Sometimes the gospel reading at Holy Mass gives us a perfectly appropriate image. “After the master of the house has arisen and locked the door, then you will stand outside knocking, and saying…Trick or treat!”
How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. (Mt. 7:14)
On the one hand, Lord Jesus submitted to His bitter Passion, and mounted the height of the cross, in order to draw all people to Himself. Christ extends His Hand to everyone. His loving Heart wills the salvation of all.
But on the other hand, the road to salvation stretches before us—long, dark, and treacherous. (And that’s just getting through the rest of today.)
On this road of Christian faith, we can encounter this situation: ‘Nice! I think I have finally settled into a nice little state of comfortable holiness!’ Then the Lord demands the renunciation of something that I didn’t even realize I cherish with a desperate familiarity.
Children don’t like having their Halloween candy taken away from them. And we don’t like it when the Lord points out that we have no real right to certain comforts that we have come to take for granted. But He’s allowed to pull the rug out from under us anytime. After all, we came naked into this world, and naked we will leave it again.
It’s not because He’s cruel. But He has a particular kind of zeal for our souls. The ‘trick’ is that His zeal can appear ruthlessly cruel to our grasping and avaricious eyes.
Almighty God has no interest whatsoever in our being “vaguely associated” with Him. As if we could get to heaven by keeping some Catholic-school sweatshirts in our dresser drawers. Or drinking our coffee from a “Blessed 24:7” mug. As if we could find salvation by thinking of God and loving Him 35-40% of the time, and watching tv or twirling the facebook feed slackjawed the rest.
No. He loves us with a ruthlessly demanding Passion. One thing He is not is “nice.” Not a “nice” God. He is the crucified God. He walked the narrow way of pure, honest, fearless love. And His Way, the Way of the Cross, is the only way to the Father.
But, oh, what a Father do we find! when we walk this narrow way. There’s not a treat in this world that can hold a candle to His love.