”A process of self-destruction is always reversible. But time is short.” ~ Robert Cardinal Sarah
“Do not give what is holy to dogs, or throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them underfoot, and turn and tear you to pieces.” These are Jesus‘ words to his disciples in today’s Gospel (Matthew 7:6, 12-14) in what is a continuation of His Sermon on the Mount.
Although called to evangelize, Jesus in this passage is explaining to his disciples the difference between speaking to the willing as opposed to the hard-hearted and stubborn. It would be critical for them to discern the difference. From a spiritual standpoint, “casting pearls before swine” is no act of love given to the unbeliever. It is instead, tragically enough, a mere waste of God-given resources. Much like their predecessors that once roamed the streets of Jerusalem and those still occasionally spotted in the wilderness, the metaphoric wild pigs in our midst in the year 2022, although not particularly selective with regard to the “food they eat” ~ the popularity of Reality TV, pornography and extreme sports serving as obvious examples ~ can still in fact become hostile and antagonistic when given something inedible for lack of a better term. In light of the anti-Christian sentiment that has become so prevalent in our world today, it’s clear why Jesus gave us this timeless analogy.
Robert Cardinal Sarah, Guinean prelate of the Catholic Church and prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, recently had this to say on matters pertaining to evangelism:
“Your mission is not to save a dying world. No civilization has the promises of eternal life. Your mission is to live out with fidelity and without compromise the faith you received from Christ. In that way, even without realizing it, you will save the heritage of many centuries of faith. Do not be afraid because of your small numbers! It is not a matter of winning elections or influencing opinions. It is a matter of living the Gospel. Faith is a fire. A person himself must be on fire in order to transmit it. Watch over this sacred fire!“
“Enter through the narrow gate,” Jesus goes on to say, “for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many.” When reflecting on Luke’s version of the “Narrow Gate” discourse about a year ago, I spoke of the virtue of discipline coupled with a sense of urgency, one which called for an examination of conscience in matters pertaining to forgiveness, acts of charity and bringing the Gospel Message to the workplace https://hubpages.com/religion-philosophy/Broadening-the-Narrow-Gate.
Today I’d like to focus on the toll collector ~ or should I say the soul collector ~ who stands at the wide gate, the gate that Jesus warns us to avoid, and some of the tactics he uses. I speak of course about Satan. He’s real and he’s hell-bent, quite literally, on directing you through this wide gate that leads to his eternal dwelling place, not the dwelling place that God is preparing for you (John 14:2).
In his poignant and at times frightening new book Immortal Combat, Father Dwight Longenecker encourages the reader to seek out the myriad of places where evil stalks and lurks in our world. He encourages self-sacrifice, deep spiritual contemplation and a willingness to carry our cross in order to walk the path that leads to the narrow gate of salvation. Watering down the robust teachings of our Church and denying the existence of Satan and the spiritual warfare in which he engages us will ultimately prove fatal.
The cleric abuse scandal is proof that the smoke of Satan has entered even the Catholic Church. Where there is man, there is evil. And the devil is evil incarnate. Saint John Bosco once said “When I see the devil has stopped ensnaring souls, I too will cease looking for new ways to save them from his wily deceits.” You can be sure that Saint John Bosco and the entire Celestial Court is still working tirelessly and relentlessly on our behalf. As we’ve seen over the last few months, Satan has turned to a pair of his favorite weapons ~ discord and divisiveness ~ in an effort to raise the temperature to boiling levels.
Through the cultivation of the Spiritual Gifts of wisdom, understanding, and fortitude we must lean on the Communion of Saints as we strive to become saints ourselves. On the topic of great Saints, I leave you with a quote from Saint Augustine, who once said “The Kingdom of Heaven requires no other price than yourself. The value of it is yourself. Give yourself for it, and you shall have it.”