August 27th Twenty-First Sunday of Ordinary Time C

Introduction

Indifference to the salvation of one’s soul is an evil prevalent in every age. Many wrap themselves up the world and little consider their larger purpose and destiny after death. The Gospel this Sunday warns us not to fall into that trap. Lets confess any ways we neglect to nourish our soul’s welfare..

Homily

“Many are called but few chosen”. When I was young we’d say: “many are cold but few are frozen”. The few who are frozen, doing little to fan the flame of God within, seem to have swelled today. Falling mass attendance, the rise of militant secularism, attacks on the church, the number of lapsed Catholics or other Christians rising. All point to a crisis among the redeemed. Hence the urgency of the question posed in our Gospel: “will there be only a few saved?”. Jesus’s answer is scant comfort for free-wheeling liberals: “strive to enter by the narrow gate”. Here He identifies a key cause of falling from grace, affluent worldliness. For the narrow gate was for the poor in Jerusalem, the wider gate was for the rich. He might well be criticizing our nation where as we get richer our moral gates seems to get wider and our faith weaker. God forbid he’ll say to our generation: “away from me you wicked men, I do not know you”. Yet the hopeful word in the Gospel is “strive”, he recognizes our weakness too.

Visiting a hospital recently I tended to agreed with a patient who thought we’d gone mad now with money, drink, cars, self. Our ancestors entered by the poor gate yet were more chosen and faithful. But there’s nothing new about the link between affluence and godlessness. Jesus had to warn the Pharisees, living in towers of arrogant wealth and power, that others less well-off would enter the kingdom before them. They risked by their behavior being cast out into the darkness after death where there would be endless “weeping and grinding of teeth”.

We dare not say rightly so, and be complacent, for the warning is also addressed to us. The despised of the world may go into heaven before us too. We may wonder why Christ was so explicit in this, but it was out of love that he gave this admonition to all. He wants all to be saved, especially those most at risk, those who through greedy hardness of heart risk exclusion from paradise: “thieves and prostitutes will make their way into heaven before you”, He warns. This warning holds good for today when many of our affluent generation, blinded by the world, think they don’t need God’s guidance anymore. But this Gospel is a warning not just to the rich but a reminder to all that we shouldn’t presume on heaven. As St.Paul says we must work out our salvation in “fear and trembling”. Christians are the chosen, but if much is given to us, much will be required of us. The great banquet of the body of Christ is laid before us every Sunday, but many are too busy to come to this miracle of grace. Third-world poor flock to the church, while many long time in chosen Europe, casually walk away from their heritage and almost flaunt the fact. But the recession is bringing many down earth. Christ’s words should bring us to our senses spiritually also. Its because he loves us that he warns us that “the last will be first and the first last”. We cannot despise God, his church, and follow the world’s corrupt ways, and yet presume on heaven. God is merciful but people now think that heaven is our choice at death; rejecting God in life we’ll also do so at death. The way to ensure against that is to be faithful throughout life, keeping the white garment of our baptism intact as we promised also at confirmation. So that when Christ comes we’ll inevitably make the right choice, go out to meet him with all the saints. Mother Theresa says success in life is in being faithful. For the godless values of this world fade to dust at last leaving us empty; but Christ is lord of love, truth, and salvation for happiness here and forever and ever. So as God’s own, staying by him despite the evil one’s wiles, let’s profess our faith.

Prayers of the faithful

For our holy Father, may he continue to remind people to enter in by the narrow gate of life, not the wide one of spiritual death..

For civil leaders that they may serve the spiritual as well as the physical and social needs of all..

For our youth that they may not be so swept away by the empty promises of the world, the flesh, and the devil so as to neglect their faith and the salvation of their immortal souls..

For ourselves, that in our homes and work places we may be lights of faith to our children and all those we meet..

For the sick, the old the lonely and the oppressed that they may remember that they are the chosen of God and through our love experience his love in their lives..

For the dead, that they may come to the salvation promised by the help of our prayers, and we pray especially for..

And we ask all these through Christ who is infinitely merciful and massively strives to brings all to the salvation his death and resurrection made possible, amen ..

Reflection

The story of Faust, or Seadhna in Irish, might well be the Gospel of today. He sold his soul to Satan for 24 years of wealth and power. But the years went quickly, and all his wealth and pleasures palled. So as the time for giving up his soul nears he realizes how poor a bargain he has made. He has sacrificed happiness for all eternity for a few years of empty nothing. All of us today, lured from God and the church by vain concerns, might take that lesson also. As scripture says “make us know the shortness of our life that we may gain wisdom of heart”. Lets pray to our heavenly mother for that wisdom..Hail Mary.

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