you will be with me in Paradise."
The Narrow Gate
and the Broader Road:
What Christ REALLY
Said about Dying
will hear these words today. Some have already heard them.
ourselves may hear these words today.
What should 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 ... well, anathema, to suggest such a thing
from the pulpit. It is ... somehow scandalous to us, inappropriate,
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
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 point.
... 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 have to do. Nothing you
ought not do ... at least that will count in the end.
What is more, you
gave a beggar a dollar once, and the Church $5.00 last year!
But I 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.
may 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 makes reference 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)
I won't 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.
You are 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?
the 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 ...
For all 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 is able to convince
you. In your heart you have heard stirrings in the night and
whispers you would that you had never heard.
The Good Thief
heard these words on the very cross — and you would hear
them on the comfort of your couch?
loves you! He admonishes you! He ceaselessly encourages
you, persuades you, implores you!
— to that Paradise He has prepared for you —
and away from that Hell on which you
Both are real.
Jesus said so.
It would cost the
thief his life, and a tremendous act of faith, before he heard
Do you think that
it will it cost less of you?
Boston Catholic Journal
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