Will only a few be saved?

Is there a doctrine or teaching in the Catholic Church regarding the fewness of the saved? Did Jesus ever say that many would be called but very few would be saved? If so what does that mean and do any of us have any hope of being saved if only a few will make it to heaven?

When Jesus is asked if only a few will be saved (Luke 13:23) Jesus responds:

“Strive to enter through the narrow door, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough. After the master of the house has arisen and locked the door, then will you stand outside knocking and saying, ‘Lord, open the door for us.’ He will say to you in reply, ‘I do not know where you are from.’ And you will say, ‘We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets.’ Then he will say to you, ‘I do not know where [you] are from. Depart from me, all you evildoers!’ And there will be wailing and grinding of teeth when you see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God and you yourselves cast out. And people will come from the east and the west and from the north and the south and will recline at table in the kingdom of God. For behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”

Jesus tells a parable and gives an analogy but does not give a direct yes or no answer. Some have interpreted Jesus’ words “many will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough” to mean that only a few will be saved. But Jesus doesn’t get that specific, instead He appears to be issuing a challenge (“strive to enter through the narrow door”) rather than issuing a decree.

Elsewhere Jesus talks about the few and the many. But in the context of God’s will that all should be saved (1 Timothy 2:4) then even one person lost to perdition means too few have been saved and too many have been lost.

Jesus never directly answers the question and thus neither should we attempt to. We should instead focus on the challenge that Jesus issues and strive to enter through the narrow gate.

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