October 26, 2011 - Wednesday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time

Today's Readings

Jesus was asked a direct question, “Will only a few people be saved?” The question is central to our existence. Is heaven just for the few really good people, while the mass of humanity is damned to hell, or is hell just for the few really bad people, while the mass of humanity makes it to heaven? We are inclined now to believe that the vast majority make it to heaven. Some have even been so bold as to suggest that perhaps everyone makes it to heaven.

There is really no reason for favoring the optimistic or the pessimistic view of salvation. As for Jesus, he chose not to answer the question. He simply instructs the one asking to “strive”. Perhaps, if he had answered, we would give up trying either way. If he said that nearly everyone makes it to heaven, people would not try very hard to get in. If he said that almost no one makes it, then most of us would not even bother trying.

Instead he simply tells us to strive. We should not feel that salvation is either easy or impossible. Each person should consider that getting into heaven will be difficult, but never completely out of reach. Jesus then goes on to emphasize that no matter how hard it is to get into heaven, the alternative is worse. No one in heaven will ever say, I wish I had not tried so hard, but many who do not make it will wish they had put in the extra effort.

It is not so hard, after all, to be good. It easier for us to be bad, to follow the path of least resistance, but it really is not that difficult to be good, or rather, it is impossible to be good, but it is not that difficult to try. If we try, really try, then the Holy Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness. If we try to pray, the Holy Spirit will pray within us. If we try to be good, the Holy Spirit will be good within us. If we try to love God and our neighbor, the Holy Spirit will love within us. If we try to get to heaven, the Holy Spirit will make it happen. If we do not try to get to heaven, we probably should not expect to go there.