Saturday, 24 August 2013
Fire Insurance Catholics -The Narrow Door
This is from Father's homily notes which, as always, I have permission to reproduce.
Today’s first reading and Gospel seem to contradict each other, the reading telling us we are called from all the nations to enter heaven; the Gospel telling us the door is narrow and there are many who have said “Lord” that will not get in; that the Lord will not know them and will send them away. Then we have the second reading telling us that although we are sons, God corrects and punishes us. What is going on? Well, all are indeed called to heaven; but not all will get there. I often wonder if we have lost our faith and replaced it with superstition: “if I pray, do good and go to Mass (like fire insurance) I’ll be OK; anyway, God loves us all and we’ll all go to heaven”.
As a result of such superstition we think if we come to Mass and do good then we won’t get ill and nothing bad will happen; when it does, we say “that’s it”, and give up the Faith. But that’s a wrong idea: God has to train, correct and even “punish” us by allowing suffering, because it keep us on the right road.
We can thank God that we are called and are children of God, but children do need correction. I know sometimes people say they think they get “told off” every week by priests, but that’s only if the topic hits home: if we hear about the necessity of praying and we aren’t praying then yes, we’ll get disturbed. I like to hear other priests preach for that reason; I can be challenged as I’m preparing the homily and when I preach it, but when another priest preaches and it’s a new voice with a new idea I get corrected and challenged -and we all need that to stay on the right road. We too often think of ‘Gentle Jesus meek and mild’ and forget His ‘brood of vipers’ type comments; we simply don’t want to hear about the narrow door or the narrow path...we want to stay with the idea that “we’ll all go to heaven”.
So yes, like the whole world, we are called to Heaven; God wants and calls all of His children to heaven and no one is excluded from that call, but yes, we have to work at it. I know it’s hard to be counter cultural and challenge the world around us –family, friends and others; but if we just come to Mass and are living no different to the non-believer, if our life is no different to the man along the street, then our Mass attendance is like superstitious fire insurance and something is wrong there: we might be the ones turned outside who said “Lord, Lord”. So do stay faithful; we all need the sacraments –Mass to strengthen us and Confession to keep us clean- we all need to pray, because by prayer we tap into the power of God and without it we’re powerless. And we all need to do what is good and avoid what is wrong. If we do these few things, hard though simple as they are, we will stay children of God in this world and in heaven.