I read an article on the BBC quizzing the future of religion. This paragraph by the writer, Sumit Paul-Choudhury spoke to me in the context of Sunday’s message, “If you believe your faith has arrived at ultimate truth, you might reject the idea that it will change at all. But if history is any guide, no matter how deeply held our beliefs may be today, they are likely in time to be transformed or transferred as they pass to our descendants – or simply to fade away.”
I am one who believe that my Catholic faith has arrived at the ultimate truth. I believe that my earthly life is a journey into the existence of life-after-death which is eternal. My God want me and significantly, every other person regardless of religion, to make it through this door. I try my best to live by this simple law of life, “Love God, and love my neighbour”. My earthly journey is a consequence of this law; life can become tougher through my own actions and those of others in failing to observe this in all we do.
I believe God does not make our life tougher. He allows us complete freedom in our choices. Instead he is present always to pick up the pieces and mend us when consequences go bad. So he is not a judge of our choices nor does he interfere, but uses every opportunity to purify us (second reading). When the choices we make shut the door on him, he does not condemn but instead stands behind that door hoping that it will re-open. He is humble and unconditional in love.
“Someone said to him, ‘Sir, will there be only a few saved?’ He said to them, ‘Try your best to enter by the narrow door, because, I tell you, many will try to enter and will not succeed.’” (Sunday’s Gospel)
We may not all have a religion. We may not all even believe in God. But we all have a conscience. I believe that this conscience in its purest form is never unkind to another person. In its purity it is never self-serving.
I have taken timeout to spend a week on Ko Samui. I was first here more than 30 years ago. Last night I searched out the place I stayed then. It is still here. Then the surrounding was open land with few developments. Today it is built up with a proper street filled with entertainment joints on both sides. It jammed my mind but illuminate the progress the world has made, and with it the many available lifestyle choices we have today. The choice of faith, or religion, is like a narrow door lost somewhere among them.
There is a history we leave behind but this is also the history we come from. It is not world or civilisation history. It is our personal history. It began when we were born with a conscience that was never self-serving. Nothing in world civilisation history has changed that. This conscience is our moral compass that will help us navigate the choices we encounter along our earthly journey. And history will also never alter our final destination: death.
My faith has arrived at the ultimate truth. At the door into eternal life my personal history of my earthly life will be reviewed. I will not be judged by its results, it is not about being first, but by how I have really tried my best to be self-giving and not self-serving, to love the other. Only God knows the challenges we each face in life. He knows every opposition that is in our way. He is the only one who can tell how hard we have tried in our personal circumstance. This Sunday he says, “Try your best to enter by the narrow door”.
I cannot say by what measures I will be judged at that door. All my faith tells me is to try my best to live by that simple law. I have often enough been taken off course by my own choices but each time when I re-opened that narrow door my God was there waiting for me.
21st Sunday in Ordinary Time