So how’s your week going? A bit up and down? As usual, that fits today’s readings, where the Lord gives us some gentle reminders about some key essentials.
The first is that we are members of the Church because without God we’re stuffed. Someone said to him, ‘Sir, will there be only a few saved?’ He said to them, ‘Try your best to enter by the narrow door, because, I tell you, many will try to enter and will not succeed. This is a helpful wake-up call as to why we are part of the Church. We don’t go to mass because I just love father or the music’s great or because I want my child in the school or because mum and dad did or because I love the social life or because of my job.
It’s about Him, stupid
We go to mass, we pray daily, we live the commandments and we go regularly to confession because we need God, because his way is not only perfect and fulfilling but enormously fruitful – and because I have zero chance of getting it right by myself. Jesus dispels any illusions about this: I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father, except through me.
Jesus also reminds us that there is a thing called a final judgement. Unlike atheism, where its possible for people to get away with their injustices and disappear into peaceful but pointless annihilation, in Christianity there is no escape from an encounter with the author of my very being.
We will all answer, so be prepared
The moment I die my family and comforts wink out of my sight and I find myself a naked soul in the hand of Christ who had been holding me my whole life. While praising me for how I loved him, I will have to justly answer for the wickedness I have done to others. ‘Once the master of the house has got up and locked the door, you may find yourself knocking on the door, saying, “Lord, open to us” but he will answer, “I do not know where you come from.” Then you will find yourself saying, “We once ate and drank in your company; you taught in our streets” but he will reply, “I do not know where you come from. Away from me, all you wicked men!”
A third thing he says is: don’t be surprised as a Catholic that sometimes you will suffer, even feel humiliated, because of what the other idiots have done. St Paul is crystal clear about this today: Suffering is part of your training…Of course, any punishment is most painful at the time, and far from pleasant; but later, in those on whom it has been used, it bears fruit in peace and goodness.
This is especially appropriate given members of Christ’s own body savaged the little lambs Jesus personally entrusted to them. It is not surprising that there is punishment for the Church to pay already here on earth in view of God’s wrath of what happened to his innocent beloved. They are angry and understandably so.
Lose your fear, trust Him, tell the world
There is one final thing he says, and we heard it in today’s psalm: Go out to all the world and tell the Good News. What Christ teaches is good news for everyone – and the ballooning levels of despair, anxiety, wickedness, loneliness, meaninglessness and state-sanctioned harm, as well as the suffering in our own families, only underlines how much a truly Godlike lifestyle is needed.
So secure yourself in the unchanging love of God for you personally, hold your head high, and with joy and courage serve all with Christ’s love, and proclaim his Gospel to all. There is nothing to fear. Strong is his love for us; he is faithful for ever.
(Homily delivered Sunday 25 August)