Every week, I publish a column in my parish bulletin. I have been encouraged by several friends to use my blog as a means of communicating the message to those who do not read my bulletin. Well, here goes…..
Salvation! The word we usually associate when we hear or use the name of Jesus. Jesus, by his one sacrifice on the cross, ensured salvation for those who follow him. This past Sunday, 18 August, Pope Francis spoke some rather profound words that I would like to share in light of the challenging section of the Gospel of Luke 13:22-30. Pope Francis said to the large crowd that had gathered in Saint Peter’s Square in Rome: “To live the faith is not to decorate life with a little religion, like a cake is decorated with a little frosting. No! It’s not that. Faith entails choosing God as a fundamental criterion of life, and God is neither meaningless nor neutral. God is love!” Like Jesus’ own words when questioned about who will be saved, Pope Francis offers a sobering dose of reality for us to ponder. We can’t be part-time Catholic-Christians. We can’t be kind just some of the time; we can’t forgive only when we feel it is appropriate to forgive; we can’t accept only when someone thinks like us; we can’t think it right to judge when we think that our position is the correct one. The gate is indeed narrow, my friends, and for those who are narrow-minded, it will be a great challenge to enter the gates that lead to paradise. As we feast upon the Eucharist, we should challenge ourselves each and every time that we utter the word AMEN! Yes Lord, I do want to enter through the narrow gate. Give me the perseverance to be a less-judgmental Christian. Give me the strength to forgive even when I have no desire to forgive. Give me a sense of peace when I have been wronged. Give me the wisdom to embrace my faith so that I may never be afraid to proclaim Jesus as “the way, the truth and the life.” (cf Jn 14:6) When this type of fear takes hold of us, we become luke-warm in our faith and our participation in building up the Body of Christ is non-existent. Let us bravely and boldly proclaim Jesus as our way and our truth and our life so that getting through the narrow gate might be easy for all of us.