Homily 21st Sunday Ordinary Time
In our gospel today, a man asks Jesus “Will a few be saved?” Jesus seems to say that many will be saved – they will come from east and west, north and south. However he does make two qualifications – First, while many will be saved, this does not mean it will be easy – it a narrow path. It is difficult. He also says that many who think they will be saved will not be saved. I think this is important for us – after all we think we are saved or at least on the way. We cannot take our salvation for granted. We must work at it. We must struggle.
I would like to focus on three areas in which we need to struggle:
First, in studying our faith. Last week I met with a young university student. I asked her about her program – her answer “honestly father, I don’t remember much about what we did” It is true – our retention of information studied is not much if we don’t constantly review what we’ve studied. How much do you remember from Grade 8 history or Grade 12 calculus? For most of us not much. If the last time we studied our faith was when we graduated from Catholic school, or confirmation preparation we probably don’t know that much. Sunday Homilies are not enough, we need to take initiative. To take 10 or 15 minutes for spiritual reading each day. For those who don’t read – we have the lighthouse CDS. Many there are many helpful websites, and videos available on the internet.
A second area in which we need to struggle is prayer. Sometimes we are tempted to think of prayer as laying on the beach with God sipping martinis. Rarely it is this easy! The catechism calls prayer a “battle” We need to struggle to find time for prayer in the midst of all the other things we need to do. We need to struggle against distractions, against boredom and dryness. We need to persevere in prayer – often after a spiritual experience persons will have lots of enthusiasm for prayer and will spend lots of time in prayer for a few weeks or months and then stop all together. We must persevere in finding time for God every day.
Third we need to struggle in virtue. Sometimes we can think to ourselves. I haven’t committed adultery, I haven’t stolen, I’ve only told little lies – I’m a decent person. It’s probably true, but God does not call us to be just decent he calls us to be holy. To be more Patience with our co-workers, kind and understanding of our family members, to fight against laziness and be diligent in our family and professional obligations, to grow in charity, generosity, cheerfulness. To be more moderate in our use of food and drink, to struggle against lust and sensuality. If we examine ourselves in this manner, no matter how good we are there is always room for improvement – we must struggle
How many will be saved? Who they be? We can never be certain. Jesus warns us against overconfidence in our spiritual life. We are good people, but we cannot take our spiritual life for granted. We must struggle to grow in the graces God has given us.