Sunday, April 15, 2007

The Many and The Few

"Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few," Matthew 7:13,14.

There are two disturbing words in this passage: "many" and "few". Many are those who will take the way of destruction. Few are those who will find the path to life. Why? Because the way of destruction is wide and easy. Naturally many will take that road. But the narrow way is truly the road less travelled. It is hard and narrrow. So only a few take this way.

I am disturbed as I consider that there are many who are on the road to destruction, but probably think they are on the road to life. It is fashionable to think of ourselves as better than we are. Furthermore, we are repeatedly told not to judge others. The result is that everyone is afraid to point out sin where it exists and its corresponding consequence- eternal damnation.

Now damnation is out of vogue today. We don't believe in hell anymore. It is unpopular. So we do not believe anyone goes to hell. But according to our Lord, there are people who do. In fact, "many" do.

On the other hand, our Lord clearly presents us with the road that leads to eternal life. Why is it so hard? Because it requires self-denial. It means taking up a cross. It involves suffering. These things prevent many from walking this road and they take the other instead. Oh, if only they had eyes of faith to see that while this road does indeed require the things I've listed that our Lord Christ gives Grace for the journey. In His strength we are able to endure these things. We can overcome all obstacles. And He will guide us safely to our destination.

I appeal to the many on the broad road. Turn around! This isn't everything you think it will be. Instead, the narrow way- the hard way- is the way to go. Through temporary struggles we will come forth to eternal life.

There are few who take this way. But that doesn't mean there can't be a few more. Join me on this road and let us seek out all we can to make up just a few more.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Catholic Everywhere

I reached the culmination of a long journey this past weekend as me and my family were received and confirmed in the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday. It was a time of profound joy. God is so good to have brought us so far! We have all undergone many trials. But through them all we have come to see even clearer the depths of His amazing Grace. Thanks be to God!

As the service drew to a close, my 7 year old son looked at my wife and asked if we would be Catholic even when we visited another parish that we attend when on vacation. When my wife told him that we would be, he responded by saying, "You mean we're Catholic everywhere? This is the best day of my life!" Indeed it was a great day for us all. His statement sums up the joy in all our hearts. But it also brings something else to mind.

Indeed we are Catholic everywhere. So what does that mean? It means that we are called to be disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ, taking up our cross daily, and bearing living testimony to the power of His resurrection in our lives. Sounds simple enough. But is it?

When we drive, do we drive as Catholics (Christians)? Do we do our jobs that way? Do we treat our family members with love, gentleness, and patience? Do we avoid the sinful practices of the world (in accord with our baptismal vows)? Do we spend time in prayer, meditation, and the Scripture? Do we love others and serve them? Do we minister to the sick, the poor, and the outcast? This, and so much more, is what it means to be Catholic everywhere.

What else does it mean? It means that in the privacy of our own heart and mind, we are Catholic everywhere, and always. It means that in the times when we believe that no one is looking and that nobody could possibly know what we are doing, that we are still Catholic then too.

I can't say I live up to this ideal. I'm not sure many of us do. But I know it is the calling of our Lord. So I know that there is Grace for the journey, and therefore, hope for improvement.

If you are Catholic then remember that you have been called to be Catholic everywhere. And if you are a member of another Christian tradition, then remember that you are called to be a Christian everywhere. Look back at the statement from my son and try to capture the exuberance of it. Because I am firmly convinced that's exactly how God wants us to feel about our privilege to be His and represent Him- EVERYWHERE!