Two Roads

By Michael Smith

A Reading from the Gospel of Matthew 7:13-21

13 “Enter through the narrow gate, for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. 14 For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it.

15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns or figs from thistles? 17 In the same way, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will know them by their fruits.

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; go away from me, you who behave lawlessly.’

24 “Everyone, then, who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. 25 The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall because it had been founded on rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell — and great was its fall!”

28 Now when Jesus had finished saying these words, the crowds were astounded at his teaching, 29 for he taught them as one having authority and not as their scribes.

Meditation

In today’s gospel lesson, Jesus warns about the choice before us of traveling two roads: one with a narrow gate leading to life and the other with a wide gate leading to death. Another place where these two “roads” show up is in the Psalter: “For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked is doomed” (Ps. 1:6).

In the Baptismal Covenant we say “no” to the wide gate leading to death when we renounce evil and “yes” to the narrow gate leading to life when we commit ourselves to Jesus Christ (BCP 302). Jesus is quoted in the Gospel of John as declaring: “I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved … I came that [you] may have life and have it abundantly” (10:9-10).

Choices would seem to have consequences in this life and in the age to come. Since God has given us great freedom, choose wisely, and live life to the fullest.

Michael G. Smith served as bishop of North Dakota for fifteen years and is currently the Assistant Bishop of Dallas. He works with the Navajoland Iona Collaborative and is a Benedictine Oblate and an enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation.

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Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer

Today we pray for:

The Diocese of Lomega – The Province of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan
The Diocese of Northwest Texas

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