Jesus passed through towns and villages,
teaching as he went and making his way to Jerusalem.
Someone asked him,
“Lord, will only a few people be saved?”
He answered them,
“Strive to enter through the narrow gate,
for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter
but will not be strong enough.
After the master of the house has arisen and locked the door,
then will you stand outside knocking and saying,
‘Lord, open the door for us.’
He will say to you in reply,
‘I do not know where you are from.
And you will say,
‘We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets.’
Then he will say to you,
‘I do not know where you are from.
Depart from me, all you evildoers!’
And there will be wailing and grinding of teeth
when you see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
and all the prophets in the kingdom of God
and you yourselves cast out.
And people will come from the east and the west
and from the north and the south
and will recline at table in the kingdom of God.
For behold, some are last who will be first,
and some are first who will be last.
Hell is apparently popular today on The American Catholic
! Go here
to read Darwin Catholic’s first rate post on the topic. My Bishop, Bishop Daniel Jenky of the Peoria diocese, is a good humored bear of a man. He is also one of the most outspoken Bishops in the country, a fact I have often blogged about. Here is a homily he preached last month on Hell, a place that most people would assume does not exist if one had to rely on what was heard today from most Catholic pulpits:
Jesus taught that our temporal choices have eternal consequences. Jesus revealed there is not only an everlasting heaven but there is an everlasting hell. Today’s popular, liberal Christianity tends to beige all of that over. The God of our liberal therapeutic culture is usually presented as only a benign kind of higher force. This concept of God is almost like a tolerant psychiatrist, who for… $400 an hour will patiently listen to absolutely everything we may have to say. There is no right or wrong, no judgment and certainly no punishment for deliberate sin. All the challenging and disturbing rough edges revealed in the Holy Scriptures are simply ignored or polished away. A tame, almost domesticated God, without any real power or authority is invoked mostly for comfort and to ritualize our happy and sad occasions. It’s nice to have a God something like Santa Claus invited to our baptisms, our marriages, our anniversaries and even our funerals. But the one true God, revealed throughout the bible, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, is certainly a God both mercy and of judgment. The living God demands our obedience and insists that we love and serve Him with our whole heart, mind, strength and soul, and insists that we love our neighbor as ourselves. God’s commandments are not optional. The law of God is not a suggestion. Sin is always a sham, a lie. Sin promises so much but delivers so little. And without any recognition of our sins there can be no experience of God’s grace.
Most contemporary Catholics would sooner eat ground glass than talk about Hell. What? Be confused with fire and brimstone fundamentalists of a bygone era? People would laugh at us and all the best parties would be a thing of the past! We are too sophisticated for all that, in our ability to deploy endless arguments to transform scarlet sins into pure white without the necessity of confession, forgiveness or reformation of life. The whole concept of sin is looked upon by many as an embarrassing relic unless it can be deployed in current political battles: the sins of racism, sexism, homophobia, etc. We have shaped the Good News into Better News, more suited for our times.
The problem of course is that all of it is rubbish. Christ remains God and His words remain true. “Teaching” that departs from His words is not teaching but, another currently unpopular word, heresy. The Church is both a divine and a human institution. As a divine institution she is victorious with Christ, His spotless bride. As a human institution she is only too subject to the fads, foolishness and evils of each historical epoch, as even a cursory look at her history shows, in which she finds herself. We live in a great age of folly and it is no wonder that a fair amount of it has found its way within the Church. As always our hope is Christ and those brave and stubborn enough to preach what He preached, whether ears are willing to hear it or not.