The Disciples asked Jesus this question that I think we all ask from time to time, Lord, will only a few people be saved? They ask Him, Lord, how many are going to be saved? Who is going to make it into eternal life? Jesus being Jesus, doesn’t answer their question; instead, he gives them another question, another example. He says to them, strive to enter through the narrow gates. Will a few people be saved or many? Jesus says, strive to enter through the narrow gates. What He is saying is that the way to eternal life and the way to heaven is narrow.
We often hear in our world or even in church sometimes, “All roads lead to heaven.” Everybody is going to be in heaven. We will all be there one day. But the road is narrow, and Jesus tells us the opposite.
I was trying to think of a way to illustrate this, and I thought of my niece’s balance beam. If you could bring the balance beam, this is my sister and her, Cher & Jeremy. This is Grace’s balance beam which my father makes. I want to get a show of hands, “How many of you do not think you could walk up the balance beam if I asked you right now? How many could not walk up the balance beam? ” This is people I have heard?
So, the road is narrow; we hear that in the second reading too. He says, Strengthens your drooping hands and your weak knees. Make straight your paths because the road is narrow.
I want to use this balance beam as an illustration. I wanted to see if anybody could walk up this balance beam. Raise your hand if you can walk up the balance beam. We have some volunteers over there. I knew the kids would want to do it. Are you going to let somebody else out show you? Both of you can come. Why don’t you come? You’ll be my volunteer. I like your shirts. I want you to go right here first. What are your names? “Declan and Gillian”
Who wants to go first? Declan, you go first. So, the road that leads to eternal life is narrow. Let’s see if Declan can do it. Wow, good job (he made it all the way. Gillian tries it and makes it all the way too.) Wow, you guys are raising gymnasts here. All right, that was easy, but you’re not done yet. Go on again but stand there for a second and close your eyes. Now try to walk up the balance beam. He’s doing it. This is fun. He’s not supposed to be able to do this. Are you closing your eyes? Do you want to try? Close your eyes. This is going to be bad. OK, we’re here just in case. That’s what I wanted to happen. Good job; you guys can go back.
If you think about it, the road to heaven is narrow. St. Paul tells us in the second reading from Hebrews that we must discipline ourselves. We must be punished to enter into eternal life.
I bet every one of us, every one of you, if you disciplined yourself enough and practiced enough, could probably do this balance beam to eternal life. But Jesus says it is narrow. If a road is narrow, that means it is not significantly easy. We could easily fall off the path.
I want you to think about your life right now. Your spiritual life, your moral life . . . are you walking that narrow road? Are you following Jesus so closely that every step you take leads you into eternal life? Sometimes we think that we can wander around, and we know the good shepherd will bring us back, but the way eternal life is narrow. So, every step we take must be on that path.
First of all, are you walking that path?
Secondly, we know that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. You hear there are many roads to heaven, but Jesus says, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life unless you come through Me, you will not have eternal life.” Do we constantly keep our eyes fixed on Jesus so He will lead us into eternal life? He promises us that if we follow Him, we will experience suffering. We will experience Satan trying to attack us and push us off the balance beam to keep us off the narrow road, but He says, “If you follow me, you will have eternal life.
Finally, the third thing is that we have spotters. You don’t have to do this on your own. That’s what I am for as a priest. So, if you get off the path, you fall off, you can come to Confession. You also have this community of believers walking with you and helping you stay on that narrow path.
Today as we celebrate this Eucharist, I’m just going to give you a few moments of silence after the homily to think about that. Am I on the right path? Am I walking the narrow way? Is there anything stupid or sinful I may be doing in my life that could take me off that path? Because we realize that if we do fall, all it takes is one misstep for Satan to get us. Are my eyes set on Jesus? Who are the people that are my community of believers, the support that will lead me on this path to everlasting life?
For the path that leads to heaven is indeed narrow.