Dear Family of Mary!
Yesterday’s homily was so precious I could not hold back from sharing it today in written form! (Thanks to Stephanie for transcribing it so quickly and so well!!)
A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Luke. (Luke 13:22-30)
The question is put to Jesus: Will only a few people be saved? And I think, we hear that question and we’d like Jesus to give a clear answer. Give us percentages. So that we might know what our chances are. If he says, well, 90% will be saved; we’ll say, oh well, I have a reasonably good chance. If he says, 10% will be saved; we’re thinking- oh, I need to up my game here.
But Jesus doesn’t give facts and figures and percentages. He gives no direct answer. But he does give some clear advice: Strive to enter through the narrow gate.
Salvation is not something automatic. It is indeed a free gift given to us by our savior. It is his desire. But it is a gift that we have to reach out and take hold of. St. Augustine said something like: God made you without your cooperation, but he will not save you without your cooperation.
During the summer I was on retreat, and one night I had a very strange dream. And in the dream, I dreamt that I was a technician for NASA. I wasn’t the astronaut. As you can see, I wouldn’t really be qualified to be the astronaut. So in my dream, I was one of the technicians. And I was in the space shuttle.
There were several astronauts there. And the main engineer was coming in with his checklist, his manifesto, making sure we were ready for take-off. And in the dream, he’s looking around the inside of the space shuttle, and he realizes that the astronauts have brought bags of stuff with them… The food they like from home. Things that remind them of home. Some little comforts here and there. Bags of stuff… Over in one corner of the shuttle.
And the engineer looks at his page and he looks at all of this stuff, and he says, “What is this doing here?” And the astronauts said to him, “Well, we just, we want to take some stuff with us.” He said, “You don’t, you can’t take these things with you. Don’t you realize that I have measured everything perfectly. Every weight of this space shuttle is measured. And all of this stuff is going to put my measurements way off track. So, if we launch with all of this stuff – at best, we’re not going to land where we intend. At worst, we’re going to crash land. We need to get rid of this stuff.”
So he instructs me. And he and I start taking these bags of things, open the shuttle door, and throw them out. And the astronauts are protesting. They’re very, very annoyed. And he keeps saying to them, “But you can’t fly with this. You cannot take off with this.”
And then I woke up. And I thought, what a strange dream. And because I was on retreat, before breakfast, off I went to do my holy hour. And in the holy hour, I’m thinking, I’m dreaming about being an astronaut? Well, not quite an astronaut. But, for NASA, what was that? And as clear as day the thought came to me: Meticulous planning of the minutest detail is needed to get to the moon. But, how few there are, who have any plan whatsoever for the journey to heaven. We know that we have to plan for so many other things. And yet, we can be sometimes very haphazard about our ultimate destination.
And I think that seeing so many have, it seems, little or no plan, Our Lady has come to give Her plan, Her project. They’re often called, Our Lady’s Five Stones, or her Five-Point Plan: (1) Praying the Rosary with the heart, (2) Holy Mass, (3) The Bible, reading scripture daily, (4) Monthly Confession, and (5) Fasting.
These five points will keep us on track. Prayer will keep our hearts’ desires fixed on that narrow gate. The Holy Mass will keep our souls, as it were, loitering at that narrow gate. Because at every Mass, whether you know it or not, you dip your toe into eternity. We are in heaven right now. The daily scripture will help our eyes focus on that gate. Fasting will stir up a hunger, a longing to enter that gate. And Confession will help keep us humble and small enough to eventually be able to enter that gate. That’s Our Mother’s plan, and it’s a good one.
Will only a few be saved Lord? We are not given the answer to that question in numbers and percentages. But the answer to that question becomes utterly irrelevant to me if I, myself am not one of those who are saved. If I’m not saved, it will not matter whether 99% are saved; or whether 9% are saved. It won’t matter. I’m not saved.
So what’s our plan? Meticulous planning of the minutest detail is needed to get to the moon. How few there are who have any plan at all for the journey to heaven. Our Lady has a plan. It’s a good one. Let’s start following it.
And then, we will be ready whenever the final call comes. Whether it be today. Whether it be in 10, 20 years’ time from now. Whenever we are called to that narrow gate. We’ll be ready. We’ll have no excess baggage. And we’ll joyfully enter into the salvation Christ Jesus won for us. It is important for us to get ahead in life. But it is more important that we enter eternal life with God forever. Let us always, daily, fix our attention on that. And we’ll not go too far astray. (English Mass Homily, October 30, 2019, Fr. Phillip Kemmy)
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