Lord, will only a few people be saved? The answer to this question hits all of us directly, not so much because of the number, but as individuals. Jesus replied: “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter, but will not be strong enough.” Then He added, “… many will come from the east and the west, the north and the south and will recline at table in the kingdom….”(Luke 13:22-30) Although Jesus was speaking to his Jewish audience over 2,000 years ago, we need to heed and ponder these words carefully as they are as relevant for us today as they were for the people of that time.
I do not know about you, but I get a little bit nervous about how strong I need to be, and how narrow the gate to salvation is. I know for sure that I yearn to be one day rejoicing together in heaven with all those who were strong enough to enter through the “narrow gate,” but the real question is, will I be strong enough?
Some of us gaze daily at the answer to that question. It is inscribed behind every altar in our Pauline chapels and churches throughout the world: “Do not be afraid, I Am with you.” Isaiah heard those words when the Lord promised him that He would “strengthen” and help him to carry out his difficult mission for the people of Israel. Blessed Alberione received strength from the same words to carry out his mission for the people of his time, in the spirit of Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles. He knew that he had to be strong enough to become small, fragile and totally dependent on God, like Isaiah and St. Paul, in order to transmit the true message of salvation to new generations.
When the strong, highly educated Saul of Tarsus asked the Lord three times to remove “the thorn in the flesh” that was given to him, the Lord responded: “My grace is enough, for power is made perfect in weakness.” Paul rejoiced in weakness, insult, hardship, persecution, and difficulty because, he said, “When I am weak, it is then that I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10) We need to be strong enough to be weak, meek and humble so we can turn the other cheek with peace, forgive our transgressors, walk the extra mile, give and love generously, and fulfill our mission regardless of any hardship.
“Unless you become like little children, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven,” Jesus tells us. (Matthew 18:4) Children, like the little shepherds of Fatima and our little Christina, can teach us courage. If we don’t become sufficiently small and frail to be carried in God’s loving arms, we will never enter through the narrow gate. It is the strength of innocence, simplicity and trust that prevails.
I do not know about you, but I continue to learn a lot from Christina’s trust in Jesus. It made hearts expand in generosity to make possible her dream to help build the faith here and in different countries. Because of that, many will continue to come from the east and the west, the north and the south, and recline at table in the Kingdom of God. We pray that we too will one day sit at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, with Isaiah, Paul and Blessed James Alberione, with the little shepherds, Christina and all those from many nations who understood the paradoxes of the Kingdom and lived by them. May Jesus’ love be the sole source of our confidence.
Jesus, you are my light and my salvation, I place all my Trust in You.
Sister Marta was born and raised in Managua, Nicaragua. Early in life she experienced an earthquake which claimed thousands of lives and destroyed her hometown. Later, political unrest, Communism, and persecution, especially of young people, caused her to migrate alone to the USA where she met new challenges. After a family tragedy and deeply affected by these adversities, Sister Marta began an inner search for answers to the mystery of life, suffering, truth, and the deepest yearnings of the human heart. She found the answer in Christ. By Divine Providence she met (and joined) the Secular Franciscans in Fresno, California, in 1994, and later, the Sister Disciples of the Divine Master where she discovered, with joy, an undeserved call to the consecrated life. Although a late vocation, she was admitted to the Congregation in 2000. Today, Sister Marta serves the Lord and His Church through her ministry at the Archdiocese of Boston.