Living the Gospel – August 25, 2019

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Sunday’s Gospel reading is a very sobering portion of scripture for me. I think it is one of those readings you can easily read over and let it not affect you, but when I really put myself in the place of the person getting the news from God, it is horrifying. I imagine myself looking into God’s eyes and Him telling me “Depart from me, all you evildoers.” Now, my prayers are that no one reading this would ever hear those words from God. I am also sure that whoever does hear those words from God, they would be spoken with a tear in God’s eye. We know from scripture that God desires everyone to be with him in heaven. But he gave us this thing called free will, so we get to choose whether to be with him for eternity or be separated from him for eternity. To hear “well done, good and faithful servant” or “depart from me, all you evildoers.” I know there are some people who feel that everyone is going to heaven regardless of what they do, but this is an extremely dangerous line of thinking as it can give people false hope. I also know there are people on the other end of that spectrum who make the gate so narrow that only Christ himself can get thru it (oops, you swore once, you’re going to hell.) I don’t believe God expects us to be absolutely perfect in order to get to heaven, but I also don’t believe we can do whatever we please and get to heaven either. All we can do is work to live our lives to honor God, to take the road less traveled, regardless of how bumpy that road may be. The 2nd reading gives us hope with these difficulties. When we face problems, they are not because God is mad at us or we are being punished. They are because we live in a fallen world which includes suffering along with joy. I will not disagree with you that some people get way more than their fair share of suffering and others who seemingly do not deserve it get far more than their fair share of joy. But I don’t recall reading anywhere in scripture that life is fair. The afterlife? That will be fair, and we will be rewarded for our loyalty to God when we get there. But until that day comes, we must learn to suffer well. Not for the sake of bragging about how tough we are, but because that is what God instructs us to do. Sometimes these sufferings are out of our control – cancer, tragic accidents, economic changes that cause us to lose our job, etc. But it does not mean that God is after us or has doomed us, it just means that we are in the midst of a trial of life, not on trial with God. God is always rooting for us, he desires us to win, to stay strong, to find that narrow gate. Yes, the gate is narrow, but there IS a path to it for EVERY PERSON. The Holy Spirit is leading us down that path, Jesus has cleared the way, and God is waiting at the end with open arms. How do we find it? Read the map (God’s word – the Bible,) ask for directions (prayer,) correct your course when you go astray (penance,) and keep gas in your tank (the Eucharist.) If you are willing, God WILL lead you home, all you need to do is allow him to do it. God Bless.

Pax Christi,

John Mihalko