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The price of admission

 

The Catholic Church has traditionally seen salvation as a spiritual journey in which we strive to follow Christ’s path and rely on God’s grace to help us every step of the way to Heaven. A lot of people these days, however, seem to subscribe to a doctrine that could be called ‘user-friendly Christianity’.

They don’t see the need for an arduous personal journey where we actively practice our faith and try to become Christ-like. Since Jesus has already saved us, Heaven is a fait accompli. All we need to do is believe in him and call upon his mercy at the end of our lives. But—in our Gospel readings over the last few weekends—Jesus himself clearly expresses a dim view of the user-friendly approach. Two Sundays ago, he advised us to try entering Heaven by the narrow door because many people will be locked out. Last Sunday he urged us to imitate his example of humility. And this Sunday, he tells us very clearly that we cannot be his disciples unless we’re prepared to give up everything else—to take up our own crosses and really follow after him. Ultimately salvation is about sharing Christ’s life. That means that we have to share his work, his priorities and—above all—his love. The only path that leads to the new and everlasting life of the Resurrection is the one that Jesus himself took: the way of the cross. God will empower us to walk this path if we choose it. Other paths may seem more user-friendly for now, but the destination probably won’t be very friendly at all.

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