Sunday, June 19, 2016

Reflection for the 12th Week in Ordinary Time, Part 1

Monday – Consequences

Our choices and our actions have consequences. The Israelites found that out the hard way. They refused to keep God's law. They worshiped idols. They rejected the covenant. They decided they didn't want to be members of God's family. They struck out on their own and did what they wanted to do. And they paid the price for their disobedience.

It wasn't that they weren't warned. God sent numerous prophets to tell the Israelites that they were on the wrong path. He told them again and again what He expected of them. He let them know that His commandments were their only hope. He gave them chance after chance.

But they said a firm no. They wouldn't accept the covenant blessings God wanted to give them, so they ended up with the covenant curses instead. They made their decision, and they suffered the consequences. The king of Assyria swooped down upon the northern kingdom of Israel and swept it away. He carried the people off to his own land, where they eventually blended in with the natives. Ten tribes of Israel disappeared forever as they paid the consequences for their sins.

Tuesday – The Narrow Gate

Jesus tells us to enter through the narrow gate, but what does He really mean? Let's approach the problem by answering the six journalistic questions.

Who? Jesus' disciples are to enter through the narrow gate, and that means us! Anyone who follows Jesus, anyone who wants to be saved, anyone who wants a chance to go to Heaven must obey Jesus' command.

What? This narrow gate may seem mysterious. Jesus contrasts it to the wide gate and broad road that lead to destruction. The narrow gate, on the other hand, leads to salvation. And there is only one way to salvation: Jesus Christ Himself. Jesus is the narrow gate by which we enter into eternal life.

When? Jesus' command doesn't kick in just at the end of our lives. We must strive to enter through the narrow gate right now. We must get to know Jesus and get close to Him. When we are in a state of grace, we are already living eternal life, just not yet fully.

Where? The narrow gate isn't in any particular place. We should be with Jesus wherever we are. He is always right beside us.

Why? If we want to go to Heaven and spend eternity in the presence of the God Who loves us, then we must obey the command to enter through the narrow gate.

How? We enter through the narrow gate, i.e., we enter into and cultivate an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ, through the sacraments, the liturgy, prayer, Scripture, works of love, and the moral life. We remained focused on God and strive to grow in love, keeping our eyes fixed on the narrow gate that is the entrance to our heavenly home.

Wednesday – Delight in God's Commands

Do you take delight in God's commands? Our culture teaches us that laws and rules are, at best, a burden, things that deprive us of our freedom and keep us trapped. But this is not true of God's commands.

God's commands are specially and carefully designed to make us free. They set boundaries for us so that we stay safe and are able to become the best human beings we can possibly be. They help us on our quest for truth, beauty, and goodness by showing us the paths that simply don't lead to these goals. God knows our human nature better than we do. After all, He created us. So He knows exactly what is best for us and what is worst for us. So He commands us to seek the best and avoid the worst.

Therefore, we can delight in God's commands, for He gives them out of love to show us the road home to Heaven.

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