When Jesus is asked about the number of those who will be saved, he does not give a direct answer. What is important is not the number, but rather our striving for salvation. In Matthew, Jesus does affirm that the gate is narrow, and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.
In his book on Christian eschatology, P. O’Callaghan offers several observations on Jesus’ words. First, Jesus’ response affirms that salvation does not belong to a group of people as such, but to individuals, taken one by one. Second, Christians are meant to strive perseveringly to do the will of God in order to be saved. Third, in Matthew’s Gospel (7:13-14) “many” does not mean the majority. For Jesus, who came to seek and to save the lost, even one person condemned is already too many (see P. O’Callaghan, Christ Our Hope, CUA Press, 216-217).
We do not strive alone. In fact, Jesus tells us that many will not be strong enough. We have to realize that we are working out our salvation with the grace of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit. A close relationship with Jesus is necessary. It is not enough just to be around: to listen to Jesus from afar or have an occasional meal in his company. John tells us that Jesus wants to abide in us and that we are to abide in him.
Saint Paul is near the conclusion of his Letter to the Ephesians. He addresses four types of people. He encourages children to be obedient to their parents in the Lord, parents to raise their children with the instruction of the Lord, slaves to be obedient to their masters and to follow the will of God, and masters to treat their slaves in a considerate manner, refraining from threats and knowing that they have a Master in heaven. In all four cases, there is a reference to God.
Paul considered the Christian slaves in Ephesus as slaves of Christ. “To be a slave of God or of Christ is not a matter of shame but of honor. Scripture refers to Moses as a slave of God (1 Kings 8:53; Neh 10:30; Dan 9:11). Paul describes himself as a slave of Christ (Rom 1:1; Gal 1:10; Titus 1:1), and Revelation refers to prophets, martyrs and all Christians this way (Rev 2:20; 10:7; 19:2; 22:6). Christians can be called slaves of Christ because they were purchased by his blood (1 Cor 6:19-20; 7:22; Rev 5:9) and belong to him” (P. Williamson, Ephesians, Baker Academic, 185).
Both the Gospel and today’s first reading remind us that we will all be judged by Christ. The Gospel stresses the need to know Jesus and to strive for heaven. Paul stresses the need for obedience to God, justice towards others, and concern for others. No good deed will go unrewarded.
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