“Enter through the narrow gate;
for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction,
and those who enter through it are many.
How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life.
And those who find it are few.”
These are the tough words that Jesus gives us in today's gospel. Jesus isn't vague about the reality or the possibility of hell. I told the folks at Mass this morning that we have to take seriously the reality of hell, because Jesus takes it seriously too. I think we should always be aware of the reality of hell, but the beauty of heaven far outshines any horror that hell can offer, so the bulk of our attention should be occupied by our God in heaven. When we try to make up for our sins out of a fear of hell, the Church calls that imperfect contrition. When we make up for our sins (which we inevitably commit) out of a love of God, rather than a fear of hell, the Church calls that perfect contrition. The love of God should motivate us to do the good works of the Christian life, not the fear of hell. The roads to heaven and hell are both available, one is narrow and one is wide. We want the narrow road! Luckily, Jesus also gives us a roadmap in today's gospel for finding the narrow road:
Do to others whatever you would have them do to you.
This is the Law and the Prophets.
We love God by loving others, the people he created and sustains in love. Do this, and you will find the narrow road!