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Posts Tagged ‘The Narrow Gate’


John 10:9: “I Am the Gate”

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Jesus tells us, “I am the gate. Those who come in by me will be saved; they will come in and go out and find pasture”. (GNT)

We notice that Jesus does not trap his sheep in an enclosure with strict rules. Knowing their love for others – even their enemies, he invites them to come in and go out through the safe gate of The Way.

I am the door. By me, if any man enter in, he shall be saved: and he shall go in, and go out, and shall find pastures. (DRA)

We see that Jesus does not confine his followers in tight corners. Knowing their fidelity, he gives them the freedom to come and go in his Truth.

I am the door. If a man goes in through me, he will be safe and sound; he can come in and out and find his food. (Phillips)

We watch Jesus who does not micromanage the faithful. Believing in their hope, he invites them to walk in The Light.

I am the Door; anyone who enters through Me will be saved [and will live forever], and will go in and out [freely], and find pasture (spiritual security). (AMP)

We know that Jesus understands the difficulty of our journey. Loving our persistence, he invites us to become a branch on the great vine of life. If we doubt his patience as he offers this invitation, we remind ourselves of this story’s details.

Jesus told this simple story, but they had no idea what he was talking about. So he tried again. “I’ll be explicit, then. I am the Gate for the sheep. All those others are up to no good—sheep stealers, every one of them. But the sheep didn’t listen to them. I am the Gate. Anyone who goes through me will be cared for—will freely go in and out, and find pasture. A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of. (MSG)

Today we receive a loving invitation to walk in The Way, to hope in The Light and the Life, and to live in the truth that is Christ. Let us move toward this door to authenticity. Let us enter this gate to transformation.

Tomorrow, the Narrow Gate and The Great Reversal.


When we compare varying versions of this verse, we see that despite the circumstances of our lives, we might look for the doors that Christ opens for us.

Image from: http://normansennema.com/archives/18173

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John 10:1-21The Good Shepherd

Monday, May 14, 2018

This week we explore the manner in which Jesus defines himself, helping us to better understand the importance of his presence in our lives, to better take in the enormity of God’s love for us, and to better open ourselves to the healing power of the Spirit. Today we share this reflection adapted from a Favorite written on August 6, 2007. 

This was the Gospel reading at my mother’s funeral mass – and it is one of my favorite readings.  Perhaps it is yours as well.  There are several verses I like in particular.

With today’s he reference to the gate, we might also think of Jesus as “The Narrow Gate,” the Way by which we might live this life.  Christ’s constant call to forgive and love those who injure us, to always begin again in the Spirit, is heard – sooner or later – by those he calls. Many of us hear this message later, but no matter our circumstances, Christ is always ready to guide us back into the sheepfold.

In this reading, I like the way Jesus explains his own imagery.  We can only imagine how frustrating it must have been for this man to repeat himself in so many ways and have so few truly hear him.  Here we see Jesus as patient and clear, saying that not only does he speak from God the Father’s authority, but that he IS the New Law of Love, fulfilling and superseding the Mosaic Law.

Toward the end of the citation, we see the difference between those who listen and those who truly hear.  Some said he was ‘mad.’  Others said he was not.

When we act in Jesus’ behalf here in this life, when we bloom where we are planted, when we go about the minutiae of our days, when we work at living in the Spirit, some will say we are ‘mad,’ and others will say we are not. When we shepherd as The Good Shepherd does, we will look for Christ’s guidance. And so we pray.

Gentle and Good Jesus and Lord, keep us always mindful of your love for us.  We know that we are “pearls of great price” that you put all else aside to recover from its place of exile.  we know that you are The Gate and The Way, the only True Shepherd.  Keep us mindful of your patience and your perseverance.  Continue to speak to us in that sacred place that each of us knows with you.  Protect us from those who would harm us. Help us to pray for those who injure us. Keep us ever close to you in mind and body and soul as we shepherd one another.  Amen.


Enter the words Good Shepherd into the blog search bar and explore.

Image from: http://bradylanechurch.org/series/i-am-the-good-shepherd/ 

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Hubble Space Telescope: The Pillars of Creation

Creation: And it was Good

The Sixth Day of Christmas, December 30, 2017

On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me six geese a-laying.  

Light and dark, heaven and earth, plants of many kinds, stars and heavenly bodies, creatures that live in the water and on land, humanity. With each of the six days of creation, God sees that it was good.

Arguments continue between those who believe in a literal progression and those who turn to science for a deeper understanding of our origins. No matter our perspective, the stories in the opening of Genesis bring us an opportunity for deeper intimacy with God.

And it was good. When we understand that God has created all that surrounds us, we often leap to the conclusion that this goodness must continue unchallenged and unchanging. We struggle to understand why natural and man-made catastrophes harm and even destroy the innocent. How does God allow such suffering to take place? How do we handle the stress that comes with persecution both perceived and real? The Apostle Paul writes his first letter to the people of Thessalonica as they struggle to maintain the community they established when Paul was with them.

And it was good. Paul’s letter is so brief, and so inspiring that it is easily read with commentary. Today, particularly if we struggle with the de-creation of a community we hold dear, we find a path forward through chaos with Paul’s verses. They give us an antidote for the suffering we feel when we witness the destruction of our work or the severance of ties that once sustained us. When studying Paul’s words, we remember that, despite the circumstances surrounding us, God always turns harm to good, even when it is difficult to perceive this goodness. Destruction of someone or something we have loved brings us to our knees and asks us to pass through the narrow gate of transformation when we rely on God’s promise that all things are possible. The ruination of some idea or some structure that produces goodness brings us into deeper intimacy with our creator when we realize that goodness supersedes harm always.

Charles (Charlie) Pellerin: NASA’s former director of astrophysics

And it was good. Today we ponder the loving act of creation, our willingness to believe God’s promise of love, and the belief that God will always lead us out of the darkness of de-creation.

And it was good.

Read about recovery from disaster: “What went wrong with the Hubble Space Telescope (and what managers can learn from it) NASA’s former director of astrophysics, Charlie Pellerin, has learned a thing about leadership and project failure” at https://www.cio.com.au/article/420036/what_went_wrong_hubble_space_telescope_what_managers_can_learn_from_it_/

For more information on the M16 Eagle Nebula pictured above, click on the image or visit the NASA site at: https://www.nasa.gov/content/goddard/hubble-goes-high-definition-to-revisit-iconic-pillars-of-creation

For notes and commentary on 1 Thessalonians, visit: http://biblehub.com/1_thessalonians/

To learn about connections between Paul’s letter and the stress produced by persecution, visit: https://bible.org/seriespage/3-stress-persecution-1-thessalonians-213-20

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John 12:24: The Mystery of Resurrectionempty tomb

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal.

This is perhaps the most difficult of mysteries to comprehend. Richard Rohr, OFM posts this meditation on June 7, 2015. When we reflect upon it today, we begin to discover what it is we already have forever. We begin to understand this mystery that is reckless, real and eternal.

“Jesus himself exemplified and also taught us the path of descent, which Christians have often called ‘the way of the cross.’ The path downward is much more trustworthy than any path upward, which only tends to feed the ego. Like few other Christians, it was Francis of Assisi who profoundly understood that.

“Authentic spirituality is always on some level or in some way about letting go. Jesus said, ‘the truth will set you free’ (John 8:32). Once we see truly what is trapping us and keeping us from freedom we should see the need to let it go. But in a consumer society most of us have had no training in that direction. Rather, more is supposed to be better. True liberation is letting go of our false self, letting go of our cultural biases, and letting go of our fear of loss and death. Freedom is letting go of wanting more and better things, and it is letting go of our need to control and manipulate God and others. It is even letting go of our need to know and our need to be right–which we only discover with maturity. We become free as we let go of our three primary energy centers: our need for power and control, our need for safety and security, and our need for affection and esteem.” (Rohr)

When we allow the seed of our old selves to pass away and die we find that we are reborn into a newness of peace that blossoms amidst turmoil and anxiety. When we allow ourselves to let go to fall down the well of our former self, we discover that the dreadful bottom we fear hitting is the very narrow gate of life that we so earnestly seek. This is a mystery that we will want to explore. In and with Christ, it is a mystery that we experience daily.

Compare different versions of these verses and listen for the promise of this mystery of resurrection. 

For more from Richard Rohr, visit his site at: https://cac.org/richard-rohr/daily-meditations

Adapted from Richard Rohr, The Art of Letting Go: Living the Wisdom of Saint Francis (Sounds True), CD. This simple tri-part distinction has been affirmed by many psychologists in many different ways, and is also used by Fr. Thomas Keating in his understanding of the entrapment of the human person.

Richard Rohr, OFM, posted on June 7, 2015 at: https://cac.org/richard-rohr/daily-meditations

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Rockwell

Rockwell: Do Unto Others Mosaic – presented to the United Nations in 1945

Matthew 7:12-14

Do unto others . . .

May 6, 2015

God says: You have been asked to do unto others as you would wish done to you. You have heard it said that my Way is narrow and that the way to perdition is wide. Spend time with me today as you reflect on these verses and speak to me of all that is in your heart. Share with me your cares and worries and remember the Easter miracle that I offer to you, the gift of my vulnerable yet enduring self. Then, with patience, take your first step onto my Way.

Visit the Entering the Gate Noontime post at: https://thenoontimes.com/2013/11/21/entering-the-gate/

narrow wayReflect with The Narrow Gate page at: https://thenoontimes.com/the-narrow-gate/

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Sunday, November 24, 2013

matthew7_1[1]Matthew 7

Lessons in Serenity

As Matthew closes this section of his Gospel he records Jesus as speaking plainly and simply to his followers.  There really is no mystery here.   What must we do to gain serenity?

Jesus tells us clearly.

Stop judging others and tend to your own progress.  The criticisms we level at others are a good place to begin with our own self-development.  We critique in others what we dislike most in ourselves.  Let us recall the negative comments we have made about others and let us lay them out neatly.  We will find an apt and accurate map of the journey we must take.

Matthew-7[1]You are pearls of great price so there is no need to claw your way over those you perceive to be in your path.  Once we see where our journey must take us we will want to relax into the great gift God has for us.  All of our striving and fixing and arranging may, in fact, be counter to the work we must do on ourselves.  Let us learn to bear good fruit in due season.

Ask the creator for all the desires of your heart.  Who knows us better than the hand that carved us out of nothing?  Fashioned us in God’s image, we do not have to search long or far to discover why we are here or where we are going.  Who leads us better than our human and divine brother Jesus?  He understands the dichotomy we hold in our hands, the tug from two directions, the calling of two diverging worlds.  Who abides with us more faithfully than the Spirit?  God’s wisdom and grace dwell within us to guide, protect and console.

matthew_7_13_14_by_phoenixoftheopera-d4247gw[1]Discipleship is difficult and the way to peace is narrow.  Quick fixes, easy solutions, pat answers, immediate satisfaction, and feelings of control and power must be put aside in favor of process, dialog, reflection, shared decisions, forgiveness and redemption.

Expect false leaders.  And work to be honest followers.  Integrity, honesty, courage and persistence are wells from which we must draw.  We must learn to rebuke gently, to walk humbly, to accompany without judging, to pray ceaselessly.

You have a choice to make; build on sand or rock.  We are free to choose.  Stand on solid ground where everyone is open and honest, or allow ourselves to slide into the shifting world of denial, obfuscation and illusion.

The way is clear.  The path is open.  The winding is narrow but there are signs along the way.  These are lessons in serenity.

And so we pray.

Matthew7_24sm[1]Patient and loving father and mother, help us to refrain from judging lest we lose ourselves in the trial.  Remind us that we are well loved and well protected.  Repeat to us often that we are to knock, ask and seek.  Support us as we sift through true and false teachers and leaders.  Lead us out of the boggy quicksand of a life lived with the only goal of personal comfort.  Steer us away from all that is alluring.  Lift us to stand on the rock that is both fortress and refuge.  Guide us always back to you.  We ask this in Jesus’ name, together with the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Reflect on the past week’s posts and determine what lessons for serenity you hope to learn in the coming season of Advent.

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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Norman Rockwell: The Golden Rule

Norman Rockwell: The Golden Rule

Matthew 7:12-14

Entering the Gate

Do unto others whatever you would have them do unto you.  This is the law and the prophets.  Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many.  How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life.  And those who find it are few.

These verses are quoted by so many yet truly heard by so few.  The words are often read and studied yet seldom fully heard.

God says: I speak often to each of you as I call you to the Narrow Way my son walks with you; I send these words of wisdom to you on the wing  and in the heart of my Sacred Spirit.  I long to have each of you beside me forever; I love to know that you are as aware of me as I am of you.  Trust me in this saying that you read and hear today.  Spend time with these verses until they seep into your bones.  Spend time with me until you feel the golden Word live in you. 

This Golden Rule is perhaps the most cited and the most ignored in human history.  This week as we near the season of Advent when we celebrate Christ’s coming to live among us, let us take time to consider the paradox of the Narrow Gate that always stands before us.

To consider the teachings of other world religions on the Golden Rule, go to: http://www.unification.net/ws/theme015.htm

Enter the words Narrow Gate into the blog search bar and explore, or visit The Narrow Gate page on this blog.

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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

pearl-in-clam[1]Matthew 7:6

Pearls of Great Price

Do not give what is holy to dogs or cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them underfoot, and turn and tear you to pieces.

Swine and dogs were words used by Jews to express contempt for Gentiles.  Commentary tells us that they may also be used by Christians to describe those obstinate, impenitent Christians.  In this portion of Matthew’s Gospel, the writer records the teachings of Jesus in which we are asked to pray for one another rather than judge one another.  A true disciple is one who is willing to go to his knees and pass through the narrow gate onto The Way which Jesus walks.  A true disciple is wary of false prophets, looks to build his life on a sturdy, strong foundation, and understands that he need not fight God’s fight.  A true disciple knows that if we want to tap into our divinity, we must first humble ourselves as Christ does.  A true Christian depends on God for all things . . . and witnesses this loyalty by praying for the swine and the dogs in his life.

This saying can be a harsh one.  This teaching can be difficult to take on and live out.  It calls for the courage to remain on our own with God rather than be in the company of a crowd.  It calls for perseverance in traveling a long road with many turnings that hide the future from our eyes.  But we are pearls of great price, worth more than any amount we might imagine.  And these pearls have been bought at great cost by Jesus’ redemptive suffering, death and resurrection.  These pearls will not be left alone to be snatched up by a thief.  These pearls are worn by God with great love.  They are tended with great care.

We are pearls of great price, as Paul reminds the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 6:20; 7:23), bought with sacrifice and love.  So rather than step casually into a life we have been given as gift, let us live each day with the care and devotion God gives to our creation.  Let us value the breath we have been given even as wet us pray for those who do not.  And rather than give what is holy to dogs or allow ourselves to be trampled by swine, let us celebrate with joy each new dawn that brings us the mystery and of God’s love.

Adapted from a reflection written on February 9, 2010.

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