Christians are measured by how well they follow Jesus Christ and the Gospel, not by their own ideas and self-sufficiency, Pope Francis said on Sunday.
In his Angelus message Aug. 21, the pope reflected on Jesus’ words as recounted in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 13: “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough.”
“The Christian gate is a life whose ‘measure is Christ,’ founded and modeled on him,” Pope Francis said. “This means that the rule of measure is Jesus and his Gospel — not what we think, but what he says to us.”
In his address before the Angelus, a traditional Marian prayer, Pope Francis also pointed to Jesus’ teaching in John 10:9: “I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture.”
Jesus, the pope said, “wants to tell us that to enter into God’s life, into salvation, we need to pass through him, not through another one, through him; to welcome him and his Word.”
The pope’s weekly message was delivered from a window overlooking St. Peter’s Square, where about 12,000 people had gathered, according to the Vatican gendarmes.
The day’s Gospel describes a “narrow gate,” Pope Francis said, “not because only a few are destined to go through it, no, but because to belong to Christ means to follow him, to live one’s life in love, in service, and in giving oneself as he did, who passed through the narrow door of the cross.”
To do this requires less egoism, reducing our presumption of self-sufficiency, lowering our pride and arrogance, and overcoming laziness, he said.
This, he noted, is how Christians can “traverse the risk of love, even when it involves the cross.”
Pope Francis described some of the concrete times people may struggle to choose “daily acts of love:” such as “parents who dedicate themselves to their children, making sacrifices and renouncing time for themselves” or people who serve the elderly, the poor, and the vulnerable.
He also spotlighted the sacrifices of those who serve others without concern for their own interests, those who put up with discomfort, or even misunderstanding.
“Let’s think,” he said, “of those who suffer because of their faith, but who continue to pray and love; let’s think of those who, rather than following their own instincts, respond to evil with good, finding the strength to forgive and the courage to begin again.”
These area examples of people “who do not choose the wide door of their own convenience, but the narrow gate of Jesus, of a life spent in loving,” the pope said, as he encouraged people to consider what side they want to be on.
“Do we prefer the easy way of thinking only about ourselves, or do we choose the narrow gate of the Gospel that puts our selfishness into crisis, but which makes us able to welcome the true life that comes from God and makes us happy?” he said, posing the question for self-reflection.
Pope Francis said: “May Our Lady, who followed Jesus all the way to the cross, help us to measure our life with him so as to enter into the fullness of eternal life.”