As he made his way to Jerusalem to die for us, someone asked Jesus: “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” He answered: “Strive to enter by the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able” (Lk 13: 23-24). What does the door signify? Why is it many can’t get through? Who gets in?

The door is the passage to eternal life. No one is privileged to enter. It is not a right, it is a gift. But the Letter to James reminds us that faith without works is dead (see James 2: 17), and so we must constantly work at it. It is the goal of the hope by which we have been saved.

What must we do? Pope Benedict XVI has said, “The passage to eternal life is open to all, but it is ‘narrow’ because it is demanding: it requires commitment, self-denial and the mortification of one’s selfishness” (Angelus, Aug. 26, 2007).

As Jesus mentions in Matthew 22:14, in a parable about the kingdom of heaven: “Many are invited, but few are chosen.”

 Michael R. Heinlein is editor of Simply Catholic. Follow him on Twitter @HeinleinMichael.