Homily for June 21st, 2016:
AStrive to enter through the narrow gate,@ Jesus says. That Anarrow gate@ stands for every situation in which God=s demands weigh heavily on us and seem too hard to bear. We all experience such situations. It is important to know that trials and troubles are not signs not of God=s absence, but of his presence. Everything that threatens our peace of mind, or even life itself, is a challenge, and an opportunity to grow. Our trials and sufferings are the homework we are assigned in the school of life.
The idea that God is a supernatural protector who guards his own from all suffering is not a Christian idea, but a pagan one. Why is there suffering in a good world, created and upheld by a good and just God? Which of us has never asked that question? Our faith does not answer it. Faith gives us instead the strength to endure amid of suffering.
Our teacher in this school is Jesus Christ. Whatever trials and sufferings we encounter, his were heavier. The letter to the Hebrews says of Jesus: ASon though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered; and when perfected, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him ...@ (5:8f).
This is the Anarrow gate@ of which Jesus speaks in the gospel: the patient endurance of all the hard and difficult things that life sets before us. Jesus never promised that God would protect us from trials and sufferings. He promises that God will be with us in every trial and in every suffering.
We pray, then, in this Mass in a special way: “Be with us, Lord, in times of darkness, when clouds shut out the sunshine of your love. Be with us in the power of your Holy Spirit. Lead us ever onward. Give us the protection of your holy angels, to lead us to you.”