June 15, 2018
But the word of the LORD came to Elijah, “Go outside and stand on the mountain before the LORD; the LORD will be passing by.” A strong and heavy wind was rending the mountains and crushing rocks before the LORD—but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake— but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake there was fire—but the LORD was not in the fire. After the fire there was a tiny whispering sound. When he heard this, Elijah hid his face in his cloak and went and stood at the entrance of the cave. A voice said to him, “Elijah, why are you here?” 1_Kgs_19:9a,11-16
Jesus said, “If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body thrown into Gehenna.” Mt 5:27-32
If there’s one thing that’s certain about Jesus’ teaching, it’s that there are no loopholes. No – “Yeah buts.” No – “But, what ifs.” A vow is a vow. A sin is a sin. And hell is unquestionably hell, especially if we cause others to sin.
Yes! We’ve learned that God is merciful. But, the question is: What have we done to show God that we deserve His mercy? Have we cut off our hands to prove that we’ll never commit those sins again? Have we gouged out our eyes?
In today’s world the priest will tell us that between our concupiscence and Satan’s constant temptation, we can be forgiven our sins in the Sacrament of Reconciliation as many times as are necessary. But is that really obedience to this directive of Jesus? Do we really NOT want to do those sins any more?
Is hell – a strong enough driving force to change our hearts, to change our desires?
It’s really something to think about!
It’s really something to pray about!
Because, we know that God is NOT going to beat us up for those sins, here and now. We do a pretty good job of that all by ourselves. Between the natural consequences of our wrong doing, the guilt we live in when we make those mistakes, and a legal system that is just as happy punishing the unproven innocent, as it is the obviously guilty; we might think that all of that should be enough to keep us on the straight and narrow.
And yet, we don’t call the ‘path of righteousness’ narrow because it would be easy, and neither did Jesus.
Which brings us back to Elijah.
You see, Elijah had just about enough of the nasty world that he was living in. He devoted his life to following that narrow path, and it seemed to be leading nowhere. So in fear of his life, Elijah hid in a cave, praying for death.
But instead of death, the Lord gave Elijah one last directive – to restructure the kingdom and to appoint a successor for himself. And the message didn’t come by any of the typical or expected means. It came in a whisper.
It was the whisper of guilt, the whisper of prayer, the whisper of redemption. And it IS the whisper of awakening for us, brothers and sisters.
Are we hiding in a cave?
Are we trapped in an endless cycle of reconciliation and repetition of our sins?
Jesus tells us to just – “Cut it out!”
Listen for the directive that the Holy Spirit is constantly whispering in the deepest core of our souls.
Follow the narrow path.
And discover the incredible Freedom of Righteousness that makes us Fearless in the sight of treachery, Hope-filled in a hopeless world and LOVED beyond our wildest imaginations.
It certainly IS a much better prospect than Gehenna.
And Jesus will give us all the strength we’ll ever need.
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