Narrow gate of mercy difficult to enter with bloated pride, pope says

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The “narrow
gate” to salvation described by Jesus isn’t narrow because God is oppressive,
but because pride bloats Christians and prevents them from entering God’s
merciful embrace, Pope Francis said.

Christians “must seize
the opportunities of salvation” and not waste time on trivial things
before the gate is closed, the pope said before reciting the Angelus prayer Aug.

“If God
is good and loves us, why does he close the gate at some point?” the pope
asked visitors gathered in St. Peter’s Square. The reason, he said, is because “our
life is not a video game or a soap opera; our life is serious and the goal to achieve
is important: eternal salvation.”

In the day’s Gospel reading,
Jesus calls on his followers to “strive to
enter through the narrow gate, for many,
I tell you, will attempt to enter but
will not be strong enough.”

By using the
imagery of the narrow gate, Jesus tells his listeners that the question of how
many will be saved is not as important as knowing “which path leads to
salvation,” the pope said.

Having a
humble and faithful heart in need of God’s forgiveness, he added, allows
Christians to enter the gate that, while wide open, remains too small for those
swollen by pride and fear.

“It is
a narrow gate to restrict our pride and our fear; it is a wide open gate
because God welcomes us without distinction. And the salvation he gives us is a
never-ending stream of mercy that breaks down every barrier and opens up
surprising perspectives of light and peace,” he said.

Jesus, he
continued, offers an invitation to cross this threshold and is “waiting
for each one of us — no matter what sin we have committed — to embrace us, to
offer us his forgiveness.”

Upon passing
the gate, Christians can experience an “authentic change” that allows
them to shed “worldly behaviors, selfishness and closures.”

Pope Francis
led pilgrims in a moment of silence to reflect on those things that “we
have inside and that prevent us from passing through the gate.” He also
asked them to reflect on the “wide open door of God’s mercy” that
leads to a path of salvation for those who wish to experience his love.

“It is the
love which saves, the love that already here on earth is a source of blessing
for those who, in meekness, patience and justice, forget themselves and give of
themselves to others, especially to the weakest,” the pope said.

After reciting the Angelus prayer, Pope Francis led
the crowd in the square in praying the “Hail Mary” for the victims of
a suicide bombing in Turkey the night before. At least 50 people were killed
and dozens wounded when a suspected suicide bomber, who was reported to be
between 12 and 14 years old, detonated his explosives at a wedding party in

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