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The baggage that won’t fit through the narrow gate


Eugene Buchko - Shutterstock

Fr. Luigi Maria Epicoco - published on 10/26/22

Jesus' answer to a very concrete question saves us from two dangers.

Today’s readings can be found here. Read Fr. Epicoco’s brief reflections on the daily Mass readings, Monday through Saturday, here. For Sunday Mass reading commentary from Fr. Rytel-Andrianik, see here.

“Lord, will only a few people be saved?”

Today’s Gospel begins with this very concrete question. Indeed, we would fall into a double trap: either thinking that no one can ever be saved, because the radical nature of the Gospel is inapplicable to real life, or thinking that salvation is a gift that requires no free action on our part because it acts like magic on everyone’s life.

Jesus uses an image that saves us from these two dangers:

“Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter, but will not be strong enough.”

In speaking of a gate, Jesus makes it clear to us that salvation is not a wall we crash up against, but a possibility that opens concretely before us. Jesus does not come to us to propose an impossible salvation, but a salvation that is given to us precisely as a possibility.

However, it’s not without a cost. He immediately specifies that this door is narrow, so in order to pass through it we must abandon all the excess baggage that prevents our passing through. This baggage consists of appearances, of feeling safe just because we live ensconced in a place that seems to tell us that we are surely on the right side.

It will do us no good to present our worldly credentials when we should be giving an account of our lives:

“‘Lord, open the door for us.’ He will say to you in reply, ‘I do not know where you are from.’ And you will say, ‘We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets.’ Then he will say to you, ‘I do not know where you are from. Depart from me, all you evildoers!’”

We won’t be saved by the records of our ties to the church and of our social affiliations, but only by the righteousness of how we will have actually lived.


Father Luigi Maria Epicoco is a priest of the Aquila Diocese and teaches Philosophy at the Pontifical Lateran University and at the ISSR ‘Fides et ratio,’ Aquila. He dedicates himself to preaching, especially for the formation of laity and religious, giving conferences, retreats and days of recollection. He has authored numerous books and articles. Since 2021, he has served as the Ecclesiastical Assistant in the Vatican Dicastery for Communication and columnist for the Vatican’s daily newspaper L’Osservatore Romano.

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