In the gospel reading Jesus reduces all of the Jewish Law and the Prophets to a very short maxim, ‘always treat others as you would like them to treat you’.
Jesus invites us to imagine how we would like people to treat us, to ask ourselves the question, ‘what do I really want from another person?’ Most of us would answer that question along similar lines. We want from others respect, tolerance, loyalty, understanding, compassion, justice.
Having engaged in that exercise of imagining how we would like others to treat us, Jesus then declares that we should act towards others in a way that reflects those very same qualities. The following verse in the gospel reading, ‘enter by the narrow gate’, implies that following this rule of treating others as we would want them to treat us will not always be easy.
Narrow gates require an effort to get through. The narrow gate Jesus speaks about then leads to what he calls a hard road. Jesus’ teaching requires a daily dying to self, putting the good of the other before our own good. The way that he sets before us is a difficult and challenging way. Yet, Jesus declares that it is the way that leads to life.
It is a life-giving path for us in the course of our earthly life, and it will finally lead us to eternal life, a sharing in the Lord’s own risen life. Amen
Fr. John Peter