Homily for June 24, 2014

Tuesday of the Twelfth Week of Ordinary Time

The golden rule. The ethic of reciprocity. Do to others what you want done to you. It is an idea that has been around for a very long time. There is evidence it existed in Egypt almost 2000 years before Christ. It was known in Assyria. It even appears in China in ancient Confucianism. The fact that it does not originate here in the words of Our Lord should not come as a shock. A good idea is a good idea, and the Christian faith is above all a reasonable faith. The teachings of Holy Mother Church are based on faith and reason, because we worship a very reasonable God and a very reasonable Lord and Savior.

God reveals Himself to us so that we may know Him. Even the mysteries – those parts of belief that are beyond our human minds and can be known only with the mind of God – even those, the Lord invites us to ponder. He invites us to use the intellect that He gave us to come to the deepest and most sure understanding that we can.

Christ tells us to seek to enter through the narrow gate. If we think about that in a reasonable manner, it becomes clear why He should tell us that. We know very much about what the Church calls the Four Last Things: death, judgment, heaven, and hell. We all will see three of them. We all die, and when we die we are judged. Then we proceed to heaven or hell. As a quick side note, I am not ignoring or forgetting the Church’s teaching on Purgatory. Of course I believe in the existence of Purgatory, and of course I am glad it exists. But no one goes to Purgatory for eternity, and no one who makes it to Purgatory goes to hell. Heaven and hell are the two ultimate eternal destinations.

Knowing this, and knowing that we have 70 or 80 years, give or take, here in this life, it makes perfect sense to try to enter through the narrow gate. If we aim for Purgatory and miss, there is no other safety net; the eternal result is separation from God. But if we aim for sainthood – if we aim for heaven and miss – well, there’s still purgatory.

It is not reasonable to gamble with eternal damnation. No reasonable person would do that. Only a person lacking in both faith and reason would make such a gamble. This is why Our Lord calls us to seek the narrow gate. He wants us to spend eternity with Him. He genuinely longs for that, just as we should long for it. Reason tells us that any other path than the one that leads to God is a foolish path to follow, indeed.

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