What ‘striving’ means

I spent most of today in Northern Virginia and eventually came back into the city on Metro. I got off in Rosslyn instead of riding into Foggy Bottom, because it was a beautiful day and I wanted to walk across the Key Bridge:

Tonight I listened to Archbishop Chaput’s homily on Facebook. Today addresses the question of, “Who will be saved?” where Christ responds that we have to strive to enter through the narrow gate. I liked Chaput’s riff on Christ’s use of the word “strive:”

Jesus seems to be saying that not everybody’s going to be saved. That the way to salvation is the narrow gate and many will not be strong enough to enter into it. We know from the first reading that God desires the salvation of everyone, and [yet] here Jesus seems to be putting an obstacle in the path of everybody being saved.

It’s interesting to understand the word that Jesus uses here. He says “strive” to enter the narrow gate. The word “strive” in Greek is αγωνιστής, which means to agonize. It’s where our word agony comes from. So to strive doesn’t mean to “give it a try”. It means to—with strength and with concern and with anguish, with anxiety—to get to work, at entering the narrow gate. In other words, to take this seriously, to the point of agonizing over it.

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