“Enter through the narrow gate. Only the road that leads into the abyss is wide and comfortable. And many are they who travel along it. But narrow is the gate and full of hardship which leads to the higher life, and it is only a few who find it.” (Mat. 7:13-14)
The wide road that leads to the abyss has many names these days. All those names have in common that someone makes himself broad at the expense of others. The well-known ways to do that are: abuse of power, intimidation, money and violence, lies and libel. The list can easily be continued—there are so many ways to exercise power and put others down. It could make you depressed. And that is exactly what happens on a large scale. In bitterness and disappointment about our hardening society countless people pull back. For self-preservation they flee to their own homes, their own interests, their own truth. Fight or flight—that is usually our way to make it through difficult circumstances. Those who do not belong to the powerful feel wronged and pull back into their cocoons and say: My time may cone…
Between the extremes of power and bitterness, of fight and flight, is there a third way? How can we keep our footing in a world where we are lurched back and forth by extremes? In such a world, what do the narrow way and the narrow gate look like that Christ wanted to show us?
The tightest gate we know is the eye of the needle. Through the eye of the needle you can only go with who you are, not with what you have. The needle—it was the narrowest little gate in the city wall of Jerusalem, through which a pack animal could only go after all the baggage had been taken off. The narrow way—that is the art of making yourself so small that there is room for the other, as well as so large that there is room for yourself without baggage—no more and no less. But how do you do that—be yourself and at the same time make room for the other? When we efface ourselves and serve only the interests of others, in due course we will lose ourselves. And when our ego is king in its own realm, we only serve our own interests. It demands the highest form of vigilance and presence of mind at the same time to show yourself the way you are and take the other the way he or she is. For every encounter and every situation asks something new of us. It asks for a movement back and forth between myself and the other, between showing myself the way I am and accepting the other as he or she is. Only when I remain myself in all circumstances and, at the same time, see in every human being my sister or brother, do I walk on the narrow way, through the narrow gate, and do I find myself in God, and God in the other.
That is the objective of our little, precious, vulnerable I: to become a pillar. Not a pillar for its own sake. A pillar only has meaning and only makes sense if, together with others, it carries the roof of the temple. That is what Christ promised us when He spoke of our objective: “Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my divine Father. He will no longer leave this temple.” (Rev. 3:12)