heavenly hopes, not hellish presumptions
"You keep saying, 'I am so rich and secure that I want for nothing.' Little do you realize how wretched you are, how pitiable and poor, how blind and naked!" —Revelation 3:17
In the seven letters to the churches, the Lord found five of the seven churches partially or completely inadequate. Although some of these churches had good reputations (see Rv 3:1) and thought they were doing well (Rv 3:17), most of them were on the road to self-destruction. This may be surprising and sobering to many contemporary Christians who have accepted the unfounded presumption that almost everyone goes to heaven. Yet Jesus says: "Enter through the narrow gate. The gate that leads to damnation is wide, the road is clear, and many choose to travel it. But how narrow is the gate that leads to life, how rough the road, and how few there are who find it!" (Mt 7:13-14)
Nevertheless, we have reason to be hopeful about our eternal salvation. Jesus wants all to be saved (1 Tm 2:4) — so much so that He died on the cross to free us from our sins. Look at Zacchaeus (see Lk 19:1ff), the good thief, Saul (Paul), and so many other mortal sinners who have been saved by God's mercy. Those who have totally given their lives to Jesus have hope that they are saved and will be faithful to the Lord until death. But no one should presume that he cannot sin seriously, break his covenant with the Lord, and be damned forever. "So, my dearly beloved...work out your salvation in fear and trembling" (Phil 2:12, our transl). "Be solicitous to make your call and election permanent, brothers; surely those who do so will never be lost" (2 Pt 1:10).
Prayer: Father, fill me with hope and challenge my presumption.
Promise: "Today salvation has come to this house." —Lk 19:9
Praise: Frequent confession keeps Joan aware that her hope depends on Him — not her.
Reference: (For information or to register for our Discipleship Retreat, Small Christian Communities to Change the World, Dec. 6-8, call 937-587-5464 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org)
Nihil Obstat: Reverend Richard L. Klug, April 10, 2002
Imprimatur: †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, April 18, 2002