Heaven is an equal-opportunity destination, but to gain entry one needs a “passport” stamped with virtues such as humility, mercy and truth, says Pope Benedict XVI. The Pope said this in a reflection he gave on the “narrow gate,” before reciting Sunday’s midday Angelus with several thousand people gathered in the courtyard of the papal summer residence at Castel Gandolfo.
The Pontiff asked: “What is meant by this ‘narrow gate’? Why is it that many people do not succeed in entering through it? Is it perhaps a passage that is reserved only for a few elect?” The Holy Father said that the message of Christ is that everybody has an equal chance of entering through the narrow gate, “but it is ‘narrow’ because it is demanding, it requires commitment, self-denial and mortification of one’s own egoism.”
Christ invites all to heaven, he said, “but with one and the same condition: that of making the effort to follow him and imitate him, taking up one’s cross, as he did, and dedicating one’s life to the service of our brothers.”
“True friendship with Christ,” he added, “is expressed by one’s way of life: it is expressed by goodness of heart, with humility, meekness and mercy, love of justice and truth, sincere and honest commitment to peace and reconciliation.” The Pope adds, “This, we might say, is the ‘I.D. card’ that qualifies us as authentic ‘friends’; this is the ‘passport’ that permits us to enter into eternal life.”