By Fr. Roy Cimagala
GIVEN our wounded and sinful condition here on earth, Christ suggests that we choose to enter by the narrow gate. (cfr. Lk 13,22-30) That’s simply because we are very prone to get spoiled by the good things in the world and to develop undue attachments that detach us from God who is our everything in life.
Entering by narrow gate also corrects our tendency to be presumptuous of God’s mercy without giving due consideration to divine justice and retribution. That’s why, Christ also told us that to follow him, we ought to deny ourselves and carry the cross. (cfr. Mt 16,24)
It does this even while it also helps us from avoiding falling into the opposite predicament, which is despair. In other words, it helps us develop a true, correct and delicate conscience, not a lax nor a scrupulous one.
We should make some kind of working plan for us to follow this indication of Christ. This concern should be attended to with deliberate effort. We should not take it for granted, since we know we are notorious for easily falling into an easy way of life, into a happy-go-lucky kind of lifestyle.
In short, this indication is not meant for us to be a killjoy. It certainly does not prevent us from enjoying the things of this world, as long as we know how to convert the things of this world into a pathway to God, a form of prayer, a way to engage with God in an abiding way.
Thus, we have to be wary of our tendency to be completely taken over by worldly values, like practicality, profitability and the like, which while legitimate can be inimical to us if not inspired by love for God and for others, that is, when they are pursued simply for personal interest. We have to be most wary of the new developments in technology, etc., which can easily intoxicate us and take us away from God.
We have to explain why this doctrine is necessary for us. It admittedly is not a very popular doctrine, but it should be made so. And we can take this time when we wallowing in some national crisis to make this doctrine more known, appreciated and lived.
Entering by the narrow gate is not meant simply to make our life hard, though certain hardships and self-denials are involved. Much less is it meant to go against our nature and basic needs.
We need certain practices to keep ourselves in the presence of God and motivated only for love of God and for others. Thus, we need to find time for intimate prayer with God, to have recourse to the sacraments, especially the Holy Eucharist where the living Christ is offered to us and where the merits of his redemptive work are applied to us.
More than that, we should be humble enough to acknowledge our need to be spiritually guided by someone competent enough to do so. In this regard, we should not be afraid nor ashamed to show to our spiritual directors, the real state of our soul which, while having some good aspects, also have its unavoidable baggage of negative things.
That openness and sincerity in spiritual direction and confession can already constitute as an act of entering by the narrow gate, since we would usually prefer not to complicate our life by earnestly confiding our spiritual and moral problems to someone who can guide and help us.