There is a crucifix in my office that is around 300 years old. It is quite beautiful and distinctive in that it represents Jesus on the cross with his arms straight above his head rather than extended out to his sides. Historically, this style has been called a “Jansenist” crucifix because the Jansenists, who were at the height of their power when this particular crucifix was carved, believed that narrow was the way to salvation. Only a few, the elect would be saved, and all the others were doomed to eternal destruction.
Jesus said: Strive to enter through the narrow gate.
But, here’s the thing. A gate or a door is only as narrow as the number of people trying to get through it. In other words, a door can be physically quite narrow, but if it is only meant for a single individual or a few folks, well, it works just fine.
A gate becomes narrower and narrower the more folks trying to get through it.
Think about a line at airport security when only one x-ray machine is functional
Think about the mob scene in an auditorium or a parking garage when everyone is trying to get in or out at the same time.
Strive to enter through the narrow gate. And sometimes it is striving because we can’t get through without the others.
Is the gate narrow or is the guest list just big
Our gate to salvation is open to us, and to all and Jesus invites everyone to enter. This is an important theme in the Gospel, a Gospel struggling with the reality of who is in and who is out.
First or last, last or first, the message of Jesus is simple: get in
And who is with us?
The poor, lame hungry homeless, immigrant, foreigner, perplexed, wealthy, ragged, elderly, unborn, children, parents, teachers, students, living, dying, laughing, crying, stern, silly, yellow, brown, shades between, colorful, bland, peaceful, fighting, fat and thin and in between, cross and smiling, wimpy and athletic, smart and dim, rebellious, docile, open, closed, tired, energetic, reaching, grasping, wandering, begging, upright, slouching, everything, everything, everyone, everyone
What a crowd
This way folks
Come in everyone
Get on board
Get through the door
No need to push or shove
Cooperate, help each other out now
Plenty of time, East and west, north and south
Everyone is welcome
Everyone with fear of God and faith approach.
And once through the gate, breath a sigh of relief for there is plenty of space on the other side.