This is what Christ recommends if we truly want to follow him. “Enter through the narrow gate,” he said. “For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” (Mt 7,13-14)
To be sure, Christ is not trying to be a killjoy here. He always wants us to be happy and to be at peace, if not always then at least most of the time. But he is just being realistic, given our wounded condition that is prone to be easily spoiled by any good thing we can have in this life.
In fact, in another instance, he spells out what is needed if we want to follow him. And that is that we deny ourselves and carry the cross. (cfr. Mt 16,24) Of course, as the pattern of our humanity and the savior of our damaged humanity, he knows perfectly well what works for us and what does not, what is truly good for us and what is not.
We have to see to it that we are always aware of this necessity and requirement in our life if we want to be truly human and Christian. There is no other way we can attain the perfection and fullness of our humanity.
If Christ himself had to live by this standard, and if all the saints, especially Our Lady and St. Joseph, had to live in that way too, who are we to question the wisdom of this Christ-given indication?
Even our common sense can readily recognize how necessary this standard is for us. We know very well that we can easily get spoiled by any good thing we can enjoy in life—be it in matters of health, intelligence, talents, power, privileges, praises people give us, etc. We do not need any prodding or special temptation to fall into this predicament. Thus, we truly need to be strongly guarded against these conditions.
Everyday, right at the beginning of the day, we should already devise some plans and strategies to be able to live by this indication. We have to be keenly aware of the good things that usually spoil us, so that we can then take the necessary precautions. We have to specify the means we need to use to be able to deny ourselves in some things and to carry the cross.
We may develop the habit of passing unnoticed, especially when we are doing something that we know can amaze others. We may also cultivate the habit of choosing the worst part or condition when we are given a variety of legitimate options in a given issue or situation.
We should be very generous in terms of fasting and abstinence, not only in food and drinks, but also in the use of the Internet, aircon, and other perks and privileges that usually come with our position in the family, work place, and society in general. We have to be especially watchful of our tongue and of our reactions especially when confronted with issues that can easily lead us to gossiping, bashing and the like.
We have to actively look for the cross every day, making it as some kind of motto that there should be no day without the cross.*