you will be with me in Paradise.”
The Narrow Gate
Really Said about Dying
will hear these words today.
Some have already heard them.
ourselves may hear these words today.
give us pause — is that we may die today and NOT
hear these beautiful words spoken to us.
I know that
this is terribly incorrect in contemporary theological
circles, and that it is anathema to suggest such a thing
from the pulpit. It is ... somehow scandalous to us,
inappropriate, insensitive, and incorrect.
The Jesus we are taught is
still – some 40 years later – something of a
“Flowerchild” and the Gospels an updated redaction of “Zen
and the Art of Motorcycle Repair” – two phenomena of both
fusion and confusion, a mutilated and
unsuccessful attempt at fusing the East and the West
morally, culturally, and spiritually ... resulting in a
confusion of what is authentic to each. Today, I suppose you
would call it a “Remix” — a kind of syncopated version of
the Bible by “Jesus Christ Superstar”.
Nirvana came to Nineveh ...
and somehow it has not yet left
makes it there ... at least eventually. Today we have
re-christened it “Heaven” ... once again ... but much of
the baggage that came to Nineveh remains on the steps. “All
Dogs Go to Heaven” — and so do all men. What you do, how you
live your life, the notion of authenticity in your
relationship to Christ, and the various impedimenta to
Heaven detailed in Holy Scripture, are largely beside the
“saved” ... with your dog.
Heaven is a
given. It is a “right.” It is more than a right, it is an
eventuality, a certainty. After all, didn't Jesus Christ pay
the penalty for your sins and mine? The deal is done. Sit
back, enjoy the “good life” (which, by the way, is not
Budweiser and Broadway) and when the time comes — your
time — reap the benefits of His Passion. There is
nothing you must do. Nothing you ought not do ... at least
that will count in the end.
more, you gave a beggar a dollar once, and the Church
$5.00 last year!
wonder — and you should wonder — will we hear these
blessed words really spoken to us? Or will death come to us
in a thundering silence ... or worse.
surprise you, and will certainly make you uncomfortable, but
the fact remains that Jesus spoke much of Hell and our need
to avoid it at all costs. It is true. He refers to it 70
times. It is mentioned 162 times in the New Testament.
“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.”
(St. Matthew 7.13-14)
belabor the point. For all your efforts, you cannot
reconcile what Jesus tells you in the verse above, and what
your priest or pastor seems to assure you at the pulpit ...
concerning the terribly false certainty of Paradise
for virtually all who pass into death. It is not what
Christ said. What He said makes us nervous, and with good
reason. Not everyone goes to Heaven. In fact, Christ Himself
tells us that those who will find it are few. Not a
very satisfactory state of affairs ... is it? It could be
worse: you could go on believing that you can “do your own
thing” — and not Christ’s — and still expect to get to
Heaven — until the day you die.
being lulled into a false security .... and you know it.
What is worse, you cease to pray for your dead in your
mistaken assurance that they are already there ... if they
make it at all!
In our fear
confronting Hell, we deny it — no matter what
Jesus says, no matter what He tells us. We will
retain those who will assure us of our salvation, and the
salvation of those we love — and we will flee or effectively
fire those who will not provide that assurance as a given.
Paying Hell to Stay the Hell Away?
basket” as long as your pastor will give you the assurance
that Hell is not a place that you have to worry about ...
and if he does not give you that false assurance, take your
money to another parish where the priest will — as though
you could purchase Heaven itself! ... or pay Hell to stay
the hell away ...
your pretenses, in the dark hours of the night and in the
lonely places of the world you are far less assured of
hearing these blessed words than your priest, pastor, or
false friend can convince you. In your heart you have heard
stirrings in the night and whispers you would that you had
Thief heard these words on the very cross — and you
would hear them on the comfort of your couch?
He admonishes you! He ceaselessly encourages you, persuades
you, and implores you! — to that Paradise that He has
prepared for you — and away from that Hell on
which you are bent.
real. Jesus said so.
cost the thief his life, and a tremendous act of faith,
before he heard those words.
think that it will cost less of you?
Boston Catholic Journal
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