Rev. Stanley M. Moczydlowski, M.B.A., M. Div. (Fr. Stan)

August 24/25, 2019

21st Sunday in Ordinary Time

   WHY IS THERE SO MUCH DIVERSITY AMONG CHRISTIANS? What is the purpose and goal of Christianity? The goal of Christianity is eternal life, but the acquisition of this goal does demand an intense daily effort. Jesus says, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter, but will not be strong enough.” The spiritual life is not an easy endeavor because of our wounded nature. Our weakened will and intellect can and will move us in the wrong direction.

   We need to be open to God’s grace to take control of our thoughts, desires, and actions. The battle of the spiritual life is like walking waste deep in a river against a strong current. If you don’t continually keep moving forward and try to grab onto rocks and other anchors to assist you, the current will carry you back in the opposite direction.

   The struggle in our culture is even more difficult because, in our society, nothing is denied; everything is permissible. Discipline, self-control, and virtue are viewed with distaste, while the decadence of our fallen nature is made attractive. This is why we can so easily fall into the seven deadly sins, especially the deadliest of them all: pride. Not all pride is a deadly sin, for example: When you are proud of something that you have worked hard to achieve - good craftsmanship, powerful artistic performances, the athletes in the Olympics who bring pride to their country after months and years of tireless training - the pride of recognizing the beneficial aspects of using our talents in a healthy and beneficial way.

   Pride can, however, rear its ugly head and delude us into believing we are self-sufficient and that we don’t need God’s help or anyone else’s help. For example, those who fall into addictions and refuse to recognize their need to depend on a higher power, those who face difficulties in their marriage and are too proud to use the effort it takes to make it work, those who feel that they don’t need God’s forgiveness and refuse to open themselves up to the
sacrament of reconciliation - these examples of pride can affect all relationships. Living prideful and self-centered lives brings to us a hell on earth. A prideful ego pushes God aside and causes me to dominate, manipulate, and control others. Pride is the root of all sin.

   The second reading from Hebrews encourages us to endure our trials as a discipline that may not seem to be a cause for joy but often seems to bring sacrifice and pain. Later it will bring the peaceful fruits of righteousness to those trained by it. There will be hardship along the way, but we have Jesus as our example and leader.

   Who will be present with our Lord at the heavenly banquet? The one who stays close to the one who is the narrow gate; the key to the locked door is Jesus. When we stay close to Jesus, we also stay close to one another by dying to our selfishness so that others may live life more
fully. When we sacrifice our wants to meet others needs, we begin to understand salvation from God’s perspective; we are all in this together.

   Will only a few be saved? Not if we stay together on our journey and stay focused on God.

God bless you,
Fr. Stan