From today’s Gospel reading:
Matthew 7:13 “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. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.
I was thinking about this passage and the type of narrowness that usually comes to mind. That to enter in something we see as essential to ourselves has to be jettisoned. The thought of this shedding brings us no feeling of joy. There is an aspect of this idea that is indeed true, but it is also too constricted.
Indeed, to enter the narrow gate, you have to be broad like the saints. They entered this gate because their love is comprehensive. Vast enough to love God, neighbor, and themselves. Wise enough to know that there is no Law of the Conservation of Love. God can work with what is small like in St. Therese’s Little Way. In Therese’s smallness she embraced the world becoming a missionary from a hidden place. Entering the narrow gate is not tunnel vision, it leads to the Beatific vision.
I know I can think of the narrow gate and almost despair at the idea. I can see my ego getting in the way and blocking my attempt to transcend the gate.
I see myself so narrowly and keep forgetting that God, who has brought me thus far, can get me farther if he so desires. If I grab Jesus’ hand, he can lead me through. I wish I lived my life like these pious thoughts that come to me at times.
I also had this tangental thought of getting behind a saint and following him through the gate. A kind of spiritual drafting, like cycling where there is less resistance when following the lead cyclist riding in close. In many ways, this is what the saints can do for us. The reality that we should be doing the same to reduce the burdens of those behind us. It is terrifying in the implication of this responsibility to help others also enter through. Yet, it should horrify us to evade this and restrict our love.
The last image that came to me was the “meatball” onboard an Aircraft Carrier.
Having witnessed hundreds of landing on board a carrier, it always amazed me the precision required to drop out of the sky at a specific angle and height and then catch the wire to slow down. Once I was flown out to land on a carrier, I was even more surprised by how small the ship looked from above.
I thought about the freedom of the plane to zoom around the skies, looping in delight, yawing not yawning. Yet to make a successful landing, the pilot must focus on the meatball to get the glidepath in the terminal phase of the landing.
The freedom of the plane in turn reminded me of this part of Chesterton’s Orthodoxy:
“Catholic doctrine and discipline may be walls; but they are the walls of a playground.”
I am now thinking of the narrow gate as the meatball for my terminal phase. Plus more than that, that I want to have coattails to help others follow.Meatball to the Narrow Way