Sermon Notes – August 21, 2022 – “It Depends”

“It Depends”

Father Peter Fitzgibbons

 August 20 – 21, 2022

Gospel:  Luke 13:22-30

22 Through towns and villages He went teaching, making His way to Jerusalem.  23 Someone said to Him, ‘Sir, will there be only a few saved?’ He said to them, 24 ‘Try your hardest to enter by the narrow door, because, I tell you, many will try to enter and will not succeed.  25 ‘Once the master of the house has got up and locked the door, you may find yourself standing outside knocking on the door, saying, “Lord, open to us,” but He will answer, “I do not know where you come from.”  26 Then you will start saying, “We once ate and drank in your company; you taught in our streets,” 27 but He will reply, “I do not know where you come from; away from Me, all evil doers!” 28 ‘Then there will be weeping and grinding of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the Kingdom of God, and yourselves thrown out.  29 And people from east and west, from north and south, will come and sit down at the feast in the Kingdom of God.  30 ‘Look, there are those now last who will be first, and those now first who will be last.’ 

Let me ask you a theological question.  Is it hard to enter the Kingdom of God?  The best answer is “it depends.”  And I don’t mean old people’s garments.  It depends on the condition of your soul.  The condition of your soul depends on who you love more.  Do you love God or do you love you?  There is a saying in counseling: “I’m not much but I’m all I think about.”  God will ask, “Do you love me?”  It’s a requirement to get into Heaven.  And it’s not the emotional, frothy “Oh I love you!” kind of love.  There are people in the “Nut Hut” who do that, and they aren’t quite well.  To love God is to do the works of God.  What are the works of God?  They are works of love.  Our Lord said, “If you love me keep My Commandments.”  That is His commandment.  It is also the commandment of the Church as Paul found out in the Book of Acts.  You cannot separate the two.  Some ecclesiastical jailhouse lawyers might say, “Well, I love Christ but not the Church.”  You cannot do that.  It’s contrary to scripture from the very earliest time in 34 ad.  Christ died in 33 ad. 

So, how do we see the Commandments?  Our Lord said, “If you love Me keep My Commandments.  My Commandments are not burdensome.”  It’s how much you love.  If you love, there is no act that is burdensome.   Saint Augustine said, “There is no labor involved in works of love and if so, even the labor itself is love.”   Love becomes burdensome when we focus on ourselves.  We want what we want when we want it.  Spiritually, we call that “king baby.”  “I want what I want and if I don’t get it, I won’t come to church.”  Shut up.  God help us. 

Every time our Lord asked the apostles a question, guess what happened.  They got it wrong.  How can we love?  It’s not hard.  I saw it as a soldier all the time.  If some schmuck got hurt for whatever reason, other soldiers would go over and help the injured soldier.  They didn’t expect thanks for carrying the soldier’s stuff.  They didn’t even ask…they just did.  They helped take care of business.  At Christmas time, young soldiers who got married and had three or four kids right away needed money for gifts for their kids.  We had various funds that could help, but my sergeant-major said, “No.  We take care of our own.  We don’t go to strangers.”   So, everybody donated money, and we made sure that all those children had a good Christmas.  There was this one child who had leukemia and was being treated at an Air Force base.  His father wanted to see him, but it was expensive to travel.  So, the colonel came up with a “training mission.”  They put the father on a bird and flew him out to the Air Force base.  They left to do something else, flew back, sat there for a while, and eventually picked the father up.  After that, they flew back home.  I once met a Vietnam Veteran who extended for second year in Vietnam.  I said, “Dude! Why did you extend for another year?”  He said so that his younger brother who had just been drafted wouldn’t have to go. That’s what we do.  That’s exactly what we do. Those are acts of love.  Were they all Catholic who did that?   No, and I know that for sure.  I was with them for three years and knew all of the Catholics.  Did they all go to church?  I don’t think so.  Will they get into the Kingdom of Heaven?  They’ve got a shot because they loved and thought of others before themselves.   They responded to God’s calling even when it wasn’t convenient.  I hear this from some of the Spanish: “I will come to Mass if I don’t have something else to do that day.”  Really?  We have Mass on Saturday night and twice on Sunday.  Really?  Our Lord invited you to Supper.  You want to spend eternity with Him but you can’t find the time to come to church.

It’s all in how you love. Heaven is not hard to get into, but it’s harder than you think because it requires action on your part.  And that action is to die unto self, to live for others, and to love others.  That’s the hard part.  We have to die to selfish love to be able to live a total and Christ-like life.   

Father’s Afterthoughts. . .
Something else seminary didn’t prepare me for, and one for which I’m going to kill the nurses in Hospice.  They told me that we had a new admission, and he was Catholic.  I said Okay.  I’ll give him Last Rites.  So, I went into his room.  He was a Vietnam Vet with Agent Orange poisoning and was pretty far along in his journey.  Usually when a veteran is far along in their journey, the nurses put on the Care Channel on television.  It’s nice soothing music, nature scenes, waterfalls, and things like that.  It was tough for me to give him the Last Rites.  As I was saying the prayers to absolve him, you know what they had on television?  “Animal House.”  Really!

How will you apply this message to your life?  ______________________________________

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Minute Meditation – A Journey of Decisions

In the long days and longer nights before the Dream came true, Francis wondered if the Journey he had set upon would really bring him to his destination. When he was a boy, every trip he took out beyond the walls of Assisi brought him to some place where he could say, “I’m here in this place; I have arrived.” But this Journey was different. It pointed to the very roots of Christ’s own life. Its end was somewhere in the real meaning of Jesus’ words. It was a trip backward to the literal gospel life and forward into the Kingdom and inward to the heart where dwelled the Trinity. And you could never say, “I have arrived.” It was a Journey of decisions as radical as the gospel itself. At every fork in the road, there was a narrow, difficult way and a wide, easy way to travel. And Francis was continually surprised with the paradoxical joy that the harder road would bring, time after time. Still, at every road the easier way attracted him with almost hypnotic persuasion.

—from the book Francis: The Journey and the Dream
by Murray Bodo, OFM, page

//Franciscan Media//

Minute Meditation – Great Love, Great Truth

God does not love us because we are good; God loves us because God is good. Nothing humans can do will inhibit, direct, decrease, or increase God’s eagerness to love. That is the one absolute of biblical faith, as Pope Francis says, and all else is relative to it. All other claims to some theoretical “absolute truth,” even by the Church, are all in the head, and that is not where we need truth. For us, the word has become flesh. So we need to first find truth in relationships and in ourselves, and not in theories. Only great love can handle great truth.

—from the book Eager to Love: The Alternative Way of Francis of Assisi by Richard Rohr, OFM

Minute Meditation – Joy at the Heart of the Franciscan Alleluia 

I believe the joy that is at the heart of the Franciscan alleluia proceeds from this inner realization, which descends upon us at ever deeper levels as we walk our faith journey. This deepening is the only real goal of Christian contemplation, and is the heart of the Perennial Tradition of wisdom. This is how Francis and Clare, and all contemplatives, “know” things: “The soul itself is an image of God, to which God is so present that the soul can actually grasp God, and ‘is capable of possessing God and of being a partaker in God” (Saint Bonaventure). With that we can move forward. In fact, we can move far and wide and confidently forward.

– from the book Eager to Love: The Alternative Way of Francis of Assisi by Richard Rohr, OFM

//Franciscan Media//

7 ‘Nevers’ Promised to Those Who Trust in Christ

Uncertainties confront us every day. How long will we live? Will our children grow up and prosper or suffer and die young? War, disease, poverty, famine, and social upheaval threaten us. We have no guarantee that life as we know it will continue or if our days will be filled with peace or pain. What can we depend on? We can stand on the absolutes of God’s written word, the Holy Bible. His truth will never fail. In Scripture, He gives many trustworthy promises. We don’t know what our future on earth holds, but here are seven things He assures us will never happen to believers in Christ Jesus:

60 Second Wisdom – How Your Greatest Fear is Affecting Your Relationships

“You may be afraid of flying, spiders, heights, and snakes, but there is one fear that dominates the human experience. We all have it. It’s our greatest fear. It sabotages relationships. It produces existential loneliness.

We’re afraid that if people really knew us, they wouldn’t love us. That’s our greatest fear.

The real tragedy is that by pretending to be the person we think other people want us to be, we destroy our chances at really being loved. Because when someone does come along to say, “I love you” there’s a little voice in our head that says, “No you don’t. You love the person you think I am.”

This is how people end up desperately lonely in a relationship.

Hugh Prather observed, “Some people are going to like me and some won’t. So I might as well be myself, and then at least I’ll know that the people who like me, like me.””

60 Second Wisdom – Did You Make This Mistake This Morning?

“The alarm clock goes off. It’s time to get out of bed. This is your first decision of the day. Will you get out of bed or hit the snooze button? You press the snooze button and roll over.

What just happened? No big deal, right? Wrong. You just lost the first battle of the day. Resistance just kicked your butt. Resistance has broken your will before you’ve even gotten out of bed. You will most likely be its slave for the rest of the day.

What is resistance? It’s that sluggish feeling of not wanting to do something that you know is good for you, it’s the inclination to do something that you unabashedly know is not good for you, and it’s everything in between. It’s the desire and tendency to delay something you should be doing right now.

Don’t be a slave to resistance. Start by slaying it in that first moment of each day.

And remember, don’t just be yourself, become the best version of yourself!”