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TRY YOUR BEST - WITH THE HELP OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

Father Francis's picture
Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time

Rom. 8:26-30 & Lk. 13:22-30

If ever we do not know how to pray, the Holy Spirit is there to help us. Whenever we have difficulty in praying it would be good to recall the words of Saint Paul from today's first reading and commit them to memory.

"The Spirit too comes to help us in our weakness. For when we cannot choose words in order to pray properly, the Spirit Himself expresses our plea in a way that could never be put into words, and God who knows everything in our hearts knows perfectly well what He means, and that the pleas of the saints expressed by the Spirit are according to the mind of God”.

With those words we need have no worries about what to say or how to express our prayers. The Spirit is there to guide us and do the work for us. The Holy Spirit is even better than the most efficient secretary or ghost writer! He knows perfectly what is in our heart. He not only expresses what we want to say to the Father but also what we should. So let's not neglect the Holy Spirit but make the best use of Him in helping us to make our prayers perfect.

Another powerful sentence to commit to memory is “We know that by turning everything to their good God co-operates with all those who love Him, with all those that He has called according to His purpose.” St Paul is not saying only difficult things, but all things wherever they come from in our life, are made to work for good by God. That means that slander, deception, hostility - all the evil that people do to us – together with illness, unemployment, bankruptcy and even betrayal can all be made to work for the good of those who believe. Sometimes we cannot see the 'big picture' of what is happening to us in our life but this verse means we can be confident that God's will is also present to make things work for our spiritual good. This is one of those sacred verses of Scripture that can keep us going through many dark moments of our life.

At first sight today's Gospel passage seems rather frightening. Jesus warns us that many people who, like the Jews, have taken it for granted that they will one day enter the kingdom of Heaven will in fact be disappointed. He describes the anguish of those who wanted to enter but were left outside. When He speaks of the “narrow door” He is in fact emphasising the difficulty involved in entering the kingdom of Heaven and urging us to keep trying our best. He is the Door, the Way, the Gate of the sheepfold, and we must enter through Him. But Christ came to save everyone, including those many people who have never known Him. How will they enter the kingdom? Christ's sacrifice has made it possible for all, even pagans, to enter Heaven, provided they live according to His commandments. They are redeemed by Him even though they may not realise it. In this way everyone has the opportunity of passing through the narrow door which is Christ.

We who are Catholics cannot be self-satisfied. We are not guaranteed a place in the kingdom unless we try our best to follow Christ’s teaching. It is sometimes hard - that’s why He refers to His Way as a narrow door. He sets us a high standard and if we aim high we have a greater chance of success. We may actually be surprised at those who do succeed! Who would ever have thought that one of the thieves who died with Jesus would be among the first to enter Heaven? And yet Christ promised him, after one appeal of love, that that very day he would be with Him in Paradise. The people we might consider to be the last could be the first!

Heavenly Father, help us through Your Holy Spirit to approach our home in Heaven through the narrow door.

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