Sunday, August 21, 2016

Reflecting on "the Narrow Gate"

So in the Ordinary Form of the Latin Rite, today was the 21st Sunday of Ordinary Time. The readings, especially the Gospel reading from St. Luke, was especially timely today in a world that has seemingly become enamored with universalism instead of Truth. I have an amazingly well-versed pastor, who is great at Biblical exegesis, and often quotes the Church Fathers and other prominent Catholic clergy in his homilies. Today, he gave his homily on the readings from the 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time. He tied it in to last week’s Gospel, and told us how both of these Gospel readings, especially today’s are difficult passages for many. He told us many people would rather it not be included in the Bible, and that it’s something that causes him to really examine himself.
St. Luke Painting the Virgin and Child- Maarten van Heemskerck

He went on saying that these passages fly in the face of the modern outlook on the Jesus who is “saccharine” and an aging hippy who is all about peace and love. Many people, he said, think that basically everyone is saved, one doesn’t have to do any work to get into heaven, and those that do in fact do anything, are just as well off as those who don’t even try to keep our Lord’s commnadments. He then reminded us, there is no door prize in the Heavenly Kingdom just because you died. He quoted St. Augustine, who said something along the lines of “if we only pick and choose the things we like from the Gospel, then we really aren’t living out the Gospel; it’s something else.” Would love to know which homily that comes from…

Anyways, he continued by tying today’s Gospel passage into the Parable of the Wedding Garments in Matthew 22, and went further into his exegesis by comparing it to what St. Paul said in 1 Cor. 9, i.e. striving to win the race. Father said, “even St. Paul was afraid of losing his own salvation. If he is, what about us?” He then quoted Avery Cardinal Dulles about how we’ve made Jesus Christ into a relativist, saccharine kind of Person, and went into unpacking the second reading from Hebrews a little bit.
Good Shepherd- Bernhard Plockhorst

He ended by contemplating how he hears from parents (we have a parish school and fairly big Religious Education program) how they have to get their kids up before dawn for travel baseball or basketball, and how they put so much time and effort into getting little Johnny ready for all his games and practice… yet do we put this much effort into our religion? He said if he were so much as to suggest this he’d get run out of town! But suggest he did and asked us what’s more important? What should we be preparing for more, baseball or eternal life. He answered his own question by saying “The answer is pretty obvious.”

And I thought to myself, you know what… people don’t even need to put as much effort into their eternal salvation as they do in travel leagues! They certainly should, but look at the Precepts of the Church; that’s the bare minimum right there! All we have to do to truly be a Catholic in good standing is attend Mass on all Holy Days of Obligation, go to Confession and the Eucharist at least once a year, provide for the Church’s material needs as we can, and to observe just a few days out of the year the fasting and abstinence laws. But some people can’t even do that, as I’ve seen first hand teaching my RE classes. I think Father’s words definitely hit home to the congregation today, and hopefully gives us all pause to think.

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