Sunday, August 21, 2016

Looking Ahead

Father Perry D. Leiker, pastor
By Father Perry D. Leiker, pastor 

Quote of the Week: “Ingratitude is the soul’s enemy. Ingratitude is a burning wind that dries up the source of love, the dew of mercy, the streams of grace” — St. Bernard of Clairvaux.

Transformation!

Did you ever know anyone who wanted and needed to lose 30 pounds and was absolutely committed to doing it? The only catch is they didn’t want to exercise, cut back on food intake, watch the amount of calories or sugar, or consider larger meals in the earlier portion of the day. They wanted results but were not willing to put any effort whatsoever into changes that usually bring about those results.

They had a goal but refused to consider any means of reaching it. If a person wants to achieve something, isn’t it a requirement that they do what is necessary to bring about the desired results?

To develop bulging muscles, what does it require? Exercise.

To acquire knowledge, what must one do? Study. To become a dancer, musician, writer or other artist, what must one do? Practice.

To become more than an acquaintance but rather a great friend what must one do? Spend quality time and communicate.

There are no shortcuts. There is no easier way. There are no fixes. Knowing the right person won’t get us there. In the end, the proof will be there for all to see. Either there is an authentic and total transformation into that artist, athlete, or friend, or the illusion of greatness will fade quickly in time when observed by those who recognize quality and truth.

Jesus, essentially, is saying the same in today’s Gospel. “Strive to enter through the narrow gate. Many will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough”; “Many will stand outside knocking, asking the Master to enter. They will say: ‘We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets.’ And he will say: “I do not know where you are from. Depart from me.”

Jesus is not talking about joining a club. Jesus is not inviting us to do routine exercises that we can check off as “completed.” Jesus is certainly not asking to “go through the motions.”

Jesus is talking about a spiritual journey in which there is dying and rising, radical change, letting go, becoming, seeking and finding, and selling all that we have to buy the one thing that makes all the difference and embracing last only to discover we have become first.

Jesus is talking not about doing but about becoming. It is not what we will do but what God will do in us when we open to complete and total transformation.

In effect, we will not forgive, or forgive more times or more often; rather, we will become forgivers.

We will not love a little or even a lot more; rather, we will become authentic lovers — even of our enemies.

The door is narrow. The entrance is hard to enter.

Father Perry D. Leiker is pastor of St. Bernard Church. Reach him at (323) 255-6142, Ext. 112; email perry.leiker@gmail.com. Follow Father Perry on Twitter: @MrDeano76.

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