Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time, August 25
Never Taking Our Salvation for Granted, May We Implore the Holy Spirit to Open Our Hearts to God’s Truth, Living Our Faith in a Way Which Is Most Pleasing to Our Heavenly and Most Loving Father.
Today, we hear a question posed to Jesus which can weigh on the heart of every God-fearing person, “Lord, will only a few people be saved?”
And we hear our Lord’s answer which can give pause for each of us, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough.”
And His answer brings to mind words which we read in the Gospel of Matthew, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven!”
Evidently, and much to the dismay of those who have been deceived by Satan, salvation is not a foregone conclusion! It is something we have to take seriously, something we have to be sure we have taken hold of by faith each and every day of our lives!
Saint Augustine once said that God created us without our help, but He will not save us without our help. In other words, while Jesus’ Death and Resurrection have brought about our redemption, each one of us, both you and me, still have a role to play in letting that redemption penetrate our hearts and our minds.
We have been given, as a free gift, this faith which we hold so dear – a faith in a Loving and Merciful God, a God who is Love, a God who has created us out of Infinite Love, and a God who invites us to share in His Divine Nature for all eternity in His Heavenly Kingdom.
But what our Lord is teaching us today is that the crucial choice of entering through “the narrow gate” is ultimately ours, for He will not take away our free will of choosing to reject Him and all that He offers us.
And yet, as a Loving Father, if we should choose to travel a path in life which leads to spiritual darkness, He will not turn away from us and forget us. Remember the parable of the prodigal son? It is more a story of a loving and forgiving father who patiently waits, always looking out to the horizon waiting for his wayward child to return.
But we also know that a loving father must sometimes reprove his child, so that the child may understand the consequences of making bad decisions – especially if those decisions jeopardize his or her well-being.
Our Heavenly Father is no different. When we make choices which jeopardize the well-being of our souls, then would not a Most Loving and Merciful Father, who only desires the very best for us, who only desires that we spend our eternity with Him, reprove us so that we may begin to see the consequences of our actions?
For we hear from the Letter to the Hebrews today, “My son, do not disdain the discipline of the Lord or lose heart when reproved by him; for whom the Lord loves, he disciplines; he scourges every son he acknowledges.”
And then the author tells us, “Endure your trials as ‘discipline’; God treats you as sons. For what ‘son’ is there whom his father does not discipline?”
So the question which really remains is, “Do we choose to listen to what God is truly saying to us? Do we choose to say ‘yes’ to all that He asks of us?” He leaves that final choice to you and me. We can even take this question one step further. “How seriously do we take the promise of eternal life? Does it rank above or below the latest sale at the store on Sunday mornings or a couple more hours of sleep?”
“Is it more important than spending all day Sunday watching football or baseball or some other extracurricular activity which takes priority over spending at least one hour with the God who has created us and loves us beyond any measure of human understanding or description?”
Nothing is wrong with shopping or enjoying sports on the weekend. The question revolves around what our relationship with God is truly like. Do we give time to God in our lives? Do we set a good example for our children to follow through the example of how we live our faith?
Saint Paul wrote in his Letter to the Romans, “…if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
And the Creed which we recite every Sunday at Mass is our statement of faith. We can trust that salvation is ours as we confess this Creed, and as we place our faith and trust in the Truths that this Creed proclaims.
But the Gospels also teach us that we must respond to this faith in Jesus Christ, that we must live our faith and embrace His Precepts as He has taught us. And how do we do that? – by keeping our eyes focused on all that Holy Mother Church teaches us, for it is the Spirit of God’s Truth which reaches out to us through His Church.
You and I both know, however, that there are many who wish to close a blind eye and a deaf ear to all that we are taught. And some of these may even be our own family members and loved ones who have turned their backs on the only Truth which can save their immortal soul from an eternity of spiritual darkness and suffering, which God does not wish on any of His children.
Yet, Jesus reminds us in today’s Gospel that there will be those who will choose a life contrary to what God asks of us. And, theirs is a willful choice of an eternity where “there will be wailing and grinding of teeth…”
But the Scriptures also remind us that God is relentless in pursuing His children anywhere they may be found. And He reaches out to the believer and the unbeliever alike – as we hear in our First Reading today.
God is teaching us through the prophet Isaiah that the invitation is sent to all who “have never heard of my fame, or seen my glory”; and that all “shall proclaim my glory among the nations.”
And we also know only too well the image of the Good Shepherd who carries the lost lamb upon His shoulders. And the Gospel tells us, “Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep. I tell you…there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance.”
Our Lord, in His Love, invites all to the Eternal Wedding Feast which He has prepared for each of us. But He also expects us to be dressed properly for it. Even in the frailty of our weak human nature, God never ceases to invite us to be united to His Love, always calling us to share in His joy, always calling us to be clothed in the only attire which truly matters.
For as we read in Sacred Scripture, He expects us to be dressed in the wedding garment of holiness.
Never taking our salvation for granted, each and every day of our lives, may we implore the Holy Spirit to open our hearts to God’s Truth, so that we can truly live our faith in a way which is most pleasing to our Heavenly and Most Loving Father.
For it is truly in His pleasure where we shall find our eternal peace and joy!
May God bless you, God love you, and may God always keep you. †
Please Comment, Like and Share, and Suggest to your Facebook friends – to spread the message of God’s Merciful Love.
Por favor Comente, Le Gusta y Comparta, y Sugiera a tus amigos en Facebook – en difundir el mensaje del Misericordioso Amor de Dios.
Scripture for the Day
- “Someone asked [Jesus], ‘Lord, will only a few people be saved?’ He answered them, ‘Strive to enter through the narrow door, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough.’” (Luke 13:23-24)
- “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven!” (Matthew 7:21)
- “While [the younger son] was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion. He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him.” (Luke 15:20bc)
- “My son, do not disdain the discipline of the Lord or lose heart when reproved by him; for whom the Lord loves, he disciplines; he scourges every son he acknowledges.” (Hebrews 12:5b-6)
- ” (Hebrews 12:7)
- “…if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9)
- “…[They] have never heard of my fame, or seen my glory; and they shall proclaim my glory among the nations.” (Isaiah 66:19b)
- “Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep. I tell you…there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance.” (Luke 15:6b-7)
- “His mercy for us is strong; the faithfulness of the LORD is forever.” (Psalm 117:2ab)
Prayer for the Day
“Life is an opportunity, benefit from it.
Life is beauty, admire it.
Life is a dream, realize it.
“Life is a challenge, meet it.
Life is a duty, complete it…
Life is a promise, fulfill it.
“Life is sorrow, overcome it.
Life is a song, sing it.
Life is a struggle, accept it.
“Life is a tragedy, confront it…Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta
Life is too precious, do not destroy it.
Life is life, fight for it.”