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Squeezing Through the Narrow Gate

First Reading: Genesis 13:2, 5-18

Now Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold. And Lot, who went with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents, so that the land could not support both of them dwelling together; for their possessions were so great that they could not dwell together, and there was strife between the herdsmen of Abram’s cattle and the herdsmen of Lot’s cattle. At that time the Canaanites and the Per’izzites dwelt in the land. Then Abram said to Lot, “Let there be no strife between you and me, and between your herdsmen and my herdsmen; for we are kinsmen. Is not the whole land before you? Separate yourself from me. If you take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if you take the right hand, then I will go to the left.” And Lot lifted up his eyes, and saw that the Jordan valley was well watered everywhere like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, in the direction of Zo’ar; this was before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomor’rah. So Lot chose for himself all the Jordan valley, and Lot journeyed east; thus they separated from each other. Abram dwelt in the land of Canaan, while Lot dwelt among the cities of the valley and moved his tent as far as Sodom. Now the men of Sodom were wicked, great sinners against the LORD. The LORD said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, “Lift up your eyes, and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward; for all the land which you see I will give to you and to your descendants for ever. I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth; so that if one can count the dust of the earth, your descendants also can be counted. Arise, walk through the length and the breadth of the land, for I will give it to you.”So Abram moved his tent, and came and dwelt by the oaks of Mamre, which are at Hebron; and there he built an altar to the LORD.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 15:2-5

He who walks blamelessly, and does what is right, and speaks truth from his heart; who does not slander with his tongue, and does no evil to his friend, nor takes up a reproach against his neighbor; in whose eyes a reprobate is despised, but who honors those who fear the LORD; who swears to his own hurt and does not change; who does not put out his money at interest, and does not take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things shall never be moved.

Gospel: Matthew 7:6, 12-14

“Do not give dogs what is holy; and do not throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under foot and turn to attack you. So whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them; for this is the law and the prophets. “Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

ESV

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I pride myself on being able to carry a lot of stuff at once. I have twins, so I have a huge diaper bag slung over my shoulder when we take day trips—two of everything, plus a spare set of clothes for the older brother and all the baby supplies for the younger one. There’s my regular bag on my other shoulder with all the usual stuff: crayons, baby wipes, hand sanitizer, sunscreen, lotion, water bottles, hat for the baby, teether for the baby, extra pacifier, mirror, phone, keys, random Lego from the floor of the van, snacks, deck of cards (just in case), my book (again, just in case), sometimes a knitting project (oh, who am I kidding by even putting that in there?).

Then there’s the baby carrier—I need that so I can wear him and have my hands free to carry more stuff. I loop as many recycled grocery bag handles over my fingers as possible so I won’t have to make two trips. Then there’s the bag with all the library books that are probably overdue.

Add to that all the deadlines, past hurts, anxiety, anticipation and pondering that go along with daily life, and it’s a wonder I don’t fall down flat under the weight of it all.

The gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

Usually, we think of the narrow gate as being a filter for the other people. The masses can take that wide gate and the path that leads to destruction, but not us—we’re different. We are headed through the narrow gate and Heavenward.

Or are we?

What if the narrow gate isn’t the end of anything at all? What if the narrow gate is personal? What if the gate is only wide enough for each of us, the essentials of who we are, the core of who God made us to be? What if the size of the gate is designed to strip away all the baggage and damage and hurt and anger and distraction that we’ve been dragging around all our lives?

When we get to the narrow gate, we have a choice: we can set aside all the extra baggage and go through the gate toward Jesus, or we can opt for the wide gate that will accommodate all our extra stuff and forget about this whole following Jesus business. People do it every day—it’s certainly easier than having to sort through and pare down and make hard decisions.

If we are going to follow Jesus, though, those hard decisions have to be made. We need to leave some things behind. And the narrow gate that forces us to do that isn’t the end of the journey—it’s just the beginning.

Today, spend some time thinking about the “extra baggage” you might be carrying that hinders your walk with Christ. What one thing could you decide to set aside today in your quest to follow Jesus on the path that leads to life?

Abbey Dupuy is a homeschooling mama to preschooler twins, a first grader and a new baby. You can find out more about her here.

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