Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wednesday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time

(Ephesians 6:1-9; Luke 13:22-30)

Pupils in Catholic schools used to ask many questions of religion teachers to both satisfy curiosity and to waste time. A typical question was, “Sister, if you were killed walking to church for confession, would you go to hell?” The sisters, who knew how to play the game as well, often answered, “What do you think?” In the gospel today we meet Jesus responding as nimbly as the sisters to a tough question.

“Lord, will only a few people be saved?” someone in the crowd asks Jesus. Perhaps the Pharisees trained the questioner to think that most people are lazy, no-good hell-bounds. People today, aware of God’s mercy, are more inclined to ask a question to the opposite effect, “Doesn’t God save everyone?” Although we may try to practice the faith, all of us have loved ones who ignore the commandments. “God surely cannot just condemn them to hell, can He?” we wonder.

Jesus adroitly sidesteps the issue. Whom the Father will save or damn is up to Him to decide. Yet Jesus seizes the opportunity to create a proverb. “Strive to enter through the narrow gate,” he advises. He means that we must discipline ourselves to do what is right and to avoid what is wrong. There is scant place among his followers for slouches who say, “A peek at pornography or a little lie won’t hurt anyone.” Nor are we faithful disciples if we ignore those in need.