Ask any teacher what is a least favorite question from students, and I am sure many will answer with this question: “Will this be on the test?” There are many reasons why this question is so annoying. Perhaps for me, the most annoying reason is that what is usally impied by the question is that if it is not going to be on the test then I do not need to pay any attention to it.
I think this is the spirit behind the question asked today in the gospel, “Lord, will only a few people be saved?” I do not think this is a casual question because the disciples are curious. No, I think they are trying to evaluate their chances in being saved. Will it be hard for them to be saved? Do they have to work hard at following Jesus? Do they have to know everything about fostering a relationship with Jesus, or can they only sort of paying attention, like skimming a book instead of reading it.
That is why I think Jesus answers the way he does. “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough.” In the spiritual life, as in other things, we should not settle for the easiest thing, but rather should strive to be what God wants us to be.
We know this to be true in other important areas of life. True friendship is not about doing the minimum just to get by, but is rather about seeking a genuine friendship. People should not enter into a marriage hoping things are just “OK”, but are willing to give themselves to the other totally and fully, knowing they will be more because of this relationship together.
We need to work hard because the life of the Kingdom of God turns everything on its head. Last will be first, first will be last. And when it comes to this way of life, we can not be half-hearted. Jesus wants our heart, because he knows that when we give our hearts to God, we receive more than we give. And in that, we discover who we really are.