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Life decisions involve taking the harder path

Friday July 08, 2016 Written by Published in Church Talk
Choosing the narrow gate provides the toughest challenges, but off ers the best choice, says Bishop Paul Donoghue. 16070704 Choosing the narrow gate provides the toughest challenges, but off ers the best choice, says Bishop Paul Donoghue. 16070704

JESUS in his addresses, used many proverbs and sayings, which would have been well known in the rich and oral culture of his time.


The collective wisdom used sayings such as “not giving what is holy to dogs,” or “not throwing pearls before pigs.” (Matthew 7: 6)

These sayings would have made it easy for the people of the time of Jesus to be focused and not to waste time and energy on generalities. Being about the business of knowing who you are, what is important and what you want, is more than anything else.

An expression of this kind that recently caught my attention was, “Enter by the narrow gate, since the road that leads to perdition is wide and spacious and many take it.” (Matthew 7:13,14)

This saying is suggesting to focus your mind and heart and go for your heart’s desire. Happy are those who discover this early and then spend their lives pursuing it. A more modern expression might put it this way. If you really want the perfect rose, prune away every lesser beauty.

This text of the narrow gate is drawing us to reflect on the quality of our discipleship. Are we making decisions to travel light to find and possess the one thing necessary in life? The call to discipleship made to every Christian occurs in a face-to-face encounter with Jesus. His look of love confused some like Peter, who felt his unworthiness.

“When Simon Peter saw this he fell at the knees of Jesus saying, ‘Leave me Lord; I am a sinful man.” (Luke 5: 8) It didn’t confuse the rich man found in Mark 10:21 who Jesus looked on steadily and loved, because he knew exactly what Jesus was asking him when he said, “Follow me. But his face fell at these words and he went away sad, for he was a man of great wealth.”

Another disciple, Nathanael, when he was called, was astonished that Jesus already knew him to the core. All these disciples who had their own hopes and dreams for their lives came together and without fully knowing how or why, they knew they wanted to be with Jesus of Nazareth. The passage to life that they glimpsed in him, made every other goal small and meaningless.

The road that leads to perdition is wide and spacious. It seems so attractive. Whereas the narrow gate leads to a hard road. (Mat. 7:14)

We may ask why should we take the hard road and not the easy one? Why should we put our lives in order? Why discipline our habits, if not for the single purpose to see the face of Jesus?

Every other good comes into focus with this encounter, so you must desire it and seek it with all your heart. To know the look of love from the one who already knows you to the core is to be called from the vague, scattered “busyness” of idle musings and bored drifting through each day into the love experience you were born to experience.

One may say it as the difference between the thoughtful and the thoughtless way. Here we come to the heart of the matter. No-one would ever take the easy, the short, the undisciplined way, if he or she only thought.

Everything in this world has two aspects; how it looks at the moment, and how it will look in time to come. The easy way may look very inviting at the moment, and the hard way may look very daunting. The only way to get our values right is to see, not the beginning, but the end of the way; to see things, not in the light of time, but in the light of eternity.

How do you go about making a decision? There are many ways of going about this depending on your beliefs and values. You may be a God-fearing person or maybe not. I put before you one possibility that includes God in the process, presuming you see yourself as a Christian. Such decision making involves five steps.

1. Ask yourself, “Are the pulls I feel, for or against any of the choices, based on worldly or selfish motives or on the love of God?

2. Imagine you are a person you have never met before. You take a liking to this person and want the best for that person. Ask yourself, “What would I counsel that person to do if he or she had to make the decision I do?”

3. Imagine yourself at the moment of death. Ask yourself, “Which choice will likely give me the greatest joy at that time?”

4. Imagine yourself before the judgment seat of God after your death. Ask yourself, “Which choice is likely to give me the greatest joy at that moment.”

5. Make your decision, asking God to confirm it as being the right one.

One final observation about making decisions. Often you are not faced with a decision about your life’s calling or a change or modification within that calling. Rather (at least with adults), it’s a decision about how you are living out a choice already made, perhaps years ago.

Your task, therefore, is to evaluate how well you are living out that choice. Are you doing it in a way that is in keeping with God’s purpose in creating you? Are you doing it in a way that will bring you the greatest joy when you render an account of your life to God after your death?

A quote from the French philosopher, Jean-Paul Sartre, that I use from time to time, seems apt to conclude this article, “We are our choices,” so make them well.

(sourced from Pat Marrin - Celebrations.)

            Bishop Paul Donoghue

            Catholic Church