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In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus is asked, “Lord, will only a few people be saved?” He responds, “Strive to enter through the narrow door, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough” (Lk 13:23-24). This passage emphasizes the necessity of earnest effort and dedication to enter the Kingdom of God.

The term “strive” is crucial here, implying continuous, strenuous effort similar to an athlete preparing for a competition. Saint Paul echoes this sentiment in his letters. In 1 Corinthians 9:25-27, he writes, “Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable one. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air; but I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” Similarly, in 1 Timothy 6:12a, Paul urges, “Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called.”

Catholic Interpretation

The Catholic Church teaches that the “narrow gate” symbolizes the challenging path to salvation, which requires more than mere belief; it demands a life of virtue, repentance, and adherence to God’s will. This interpretation is supported by the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which emphasizes the necessity of grace and the sacraments in achieving salvation.

In Matthew 7:13-14, Jesus says, “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” This passage underscores the exclusivity and difficulty of the path to eternal life, aligning with the Catholic understanding that salvation is a rigorous journey requiring constant effort and divine assistance.

Examples from the Saints

The lives of saints provide concrete examples of striving to enter through the narrow gate. Saint Paul the Apostle, after his dramatic conversion on the road to Damascus, dedicated his life to spreading the Gospel, enduring immense hardships and persecutions (Acts 9:15-16). His letters reveal a man wholly committed to Christ, willing to sacrifice everything for the sake of his faith.

Saint Augustine of Hippo is another profound example. His journey of conversion was marked by intense personal struggle and a relentless search for truth. Augustine’s “Confessions” detail his path from a life of sin to one of profound faith and devotion. Pope Benedict XVI highlighted Augustine’s continuous conversion, emphasizing that it was a lifelong process of seeking and adhering to God’s will.


The call to strive to enter through the narrow gate is a call to action for all Christians. It is a reminder that salvation is not guaranteed by mere affiliation or passive belief but requires active and persistent effort. This effort includes regular participation in the sacraments, especially the Eucharist and Reconciliation, which provide the grace necessary to persevere in the faith.

Christians are encouraged to examine their lives regularly, seeking to identify and overcome obstacles to their spiritual growth. This involves a commitment to prayer, reading Scripture, and living out the teachings of Christ in daily life. The examples of saints like Paul and Augustine serve as inspirations, showing that while the path is difficult, it is also rewarding and attainable through God’s grace.

In conclusion, Jesus’ teaching about the narrow gate challenges us to live our faith with intentionality and fervor. As we strive to enter through this gate, let us remember that our efforts are supported by God’s infinite mercy and grace. By dedicating ourselves to a life of virtue and repentance, we can hope to attain the eternal life promised by Christ.

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