Step #1: Lectio / Read
Click the link below or open your Bible to the passage and read through the reading at least once, paying attention to what is happening in the text.
Step #2: Meditatio / Meditate
Use the following meditation to help you reflect more deeply on the Scripture (you may want to read the passage again).
In today’s gospel, someone poses a question to Jesus that I think we’ve all considered before: “Lord, will only a few people be saved?” Or in other words, “Will a lot of people go to hell?” The thought of people suffering in hell for eternity makes us really uncomfortable. It should.
And Jesus’ answer doesn’t make us feel much better.
Our Lord doesn’t tell us what the rest of the culture tells us. He doesn’t say, “Just be a good person and you’re guaranteed a spot in heaven.” Quite the opposite. He tells us that the entrance to heaven is “narrow” and many people will not be strong enough to enter.
And instead of just ending on that discouraging note, Jesus jumps on his soapbox about the challenge of gaining eternal life. He even throws a scary parable in there about people begging to enter heaven and being denied. When I read this passage, I want to say to Jesus, “Sheesh, Lord, a simple yes or no answer would have sufficed. I could’ve done without the discouraging rant.” Why is Jesus being so negative?
Because faith is simple, but not easy.
On one hand, we cannot earn our way into heaven. No matter how hard we work, we cannot save ourselves. Salvation comes from a personal relationship with Jesus, and He alone has the power to save us. That’s the simple part.
On the other hand, that doesn’t mean we can just sit back and lazily stroll into heaven. Maintaining that relationship with the Lord is the difficult part. It requires discipline, courage, sacrifice, patience, and more. Plus, sin constantly threatens to weaken and even break our relationship with Jesus. And just like any relationship, it takes hard work.
What we should really be asking ourselves is, “Does my faith -- my relationship with Jesus -- challenge me?” Do we engage in the struggle of daily prayer? Do we strive to conquer our fears of sharing our faith with others? Do we take those scary steps of faith and trust in the Lord’s plan for our lives, even if we have to give some things up? Do we try to do what’s right, even if our friends and family criticize us for it? Do we accept responsibility for our actions and admit when we’ve sinned?
Jesus wasn’t trying to discourage us, He was trying to caution us. I think the point He was trying to make was: don’t coast. If living out your faith isn’t challenging you, you might be coasting.
So what do we do if we find ourselves coasting through our faith?
While the solution may not be easy, the good news is that it’s simple: deepen your relationship with Jesus. Work a little bit harder today and everyday at making Him the Lord of every area of your life. Do that and you’ll make it through the “narrow gate” into eternal paradise with our Lord.
Step #3: Oratio / Pray
These questions are to be used to talk to God; have a conversation with the Lord about these questions and what is going on in your heart as you pray today.
Do I have a personal relationship with Jesus?
Does my relationship with Jesus challenge me?
Am I coasting through my faith? How can I deepen my relationship with Jesus? How can I engage in the struggles of faith?
Step #4: Contemplatio / Contemplate
In this step, you listen. Stop talking, let God speak to your heart. You may repeat one of these short phrases to focus your mind on the Lord.
"Strive to enter through the narrow gate."
"Jesus is Lord of every area of my life."
Step #5: Actio / Act
In light of today's reading and your time spent in prayer with the Lord, what concrete action or actions will you take to let this encounter with the Lord bear fruit in you today?
When you find yourself coasting, embrace the challenge of faith and take it to the next level. Recommit yourself to daily prayer, or face your fear of sharing your faith, or do the right thing even if you know people will criticize you for it.
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Today's prayer was prepared by Dan Wolff, husband, father and spreadsheet extraordinaire in Crystal Lake, IL.
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