St. Augustine of Hippo, once more reiterates, ”Let us understand that God is a physician and that suffering is a medicine for salvation, not punishment for damnation.”
Indeed, everyone desires salvation. But is salvation achieved on a silver platter? No. No pain, no gain! The fact that we are Christians does not automatically guarantee that everyone will be saved. Your salvation is in your own hands in as much as your free will is. Work at your salvation by co-operating with God through his son Jesus Christ.
Therefore, Isaiah in the first reading seeks to remove the misconceptions about salvation among the Jews, who believed that salvation was only for themselves and that no Gentile (non-Jew) would be saved. This had created confusions in the minds of the returnees from the Babylonian exile (538 B.C.). His words were to instill hope and bolster their faith especially when they saw the state of Jerusalem.
As a prophet, his consolatory message was to insist on the fact that the salvation of men is the sole prerogative of God and that salvation is universal for all men. God does not discriminate in saving men. Actually, the Divine goal is that all men must be saved. So no one can claim monopoly over salvation. No one can judge another. The Lord says, ”I am coming to gather every nation and every language. They will come to witness my glory.” (Isaiah 66:18). Are you ready?
Hence, the author of our second reading gives us the clue to gain our goal of being saved. His scenario of the father-son-discipline-training should be captured in our experience of the pains and sufferings we encounter as Christians.
Unfortunately, some people naively perceive Christianity as the easiest vocation on earth. The truth is far from this. No true and faithful Christian can claim that everything has been all rosy, comfortable, convenient and palatable. We sometimes complain, doubt, distrust, compromise, etc., just because maybe the suffering is too much for us to bear.
But for the sake of our salvation we must see them (sufferings) as part of the Divine discipline. ”For the Lord trains those he loves, and chastises every son he accepts...perseverance is part...” (Hebrews 12:6-7). Expect and be ready to face hardships and adversities if you want to be saved.
Jesus Christ, in the gospel reading, does not mince words by setting the records straight. He insists, ”try your hardest to enter by the narrow door...” (Luke 13:24). As Christians we need to exercise self-restraint and mortification by respecting and keeping his commandments. Acquaintance with Christ is not enough to be saved, but rather our deepest love and loyalty to him.
Finally, my dear family of God, know that Salvation is a choice. It is a decision. It is indispensably dependent on your faith. So collaborate with God to be saved with your constant fidelity and vigilance throughout your life. Love what the Lord commands and desire what He promises. In the midst of the uncertainties of this world, may your heart be fixed on that place where gladness is found; eternal glory-Heaven.
Hope to see you at the Lima Fall Festival. Enjoy the POPPYSEED ROLLS...it must be delicious! Have a blissful weekend. Thanks.
Fr. Emmanuel hails from Ghana and is passionate about the Gospel and bringing the love of Christ to all people. He speaks several languages, enjoys soccer and cooking, and loves St. Francis of Assisi.