Fifth Sunday of Easter

“It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships
to enter the kingdom of God.”

A good con knows how to enlist your worst instincts. If you have a weakness for money or love or sex or ease or pleasure, that’s where the seduction begins. Americans, expecting certain privileges for no apparent reason except that we’ve been told we deserve them, are especially vulnerable to the con. Likewise if you feel especially insecure in your entitlement, your anxiety invites exploitation.
As they went from one city to another, speaking with both old and new converts, Paul and Barnabas assured all of them, “It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.”
The Christian is entitled only to share in the suffering of Christ.
“What about heaven?” someone might ask.
Be careful! Be very careful. ISIS and Boko Haram recruiters use the promise of paradise to seduce young men and women to kill themselves and hundreds of others.  
If you ask God’s forgiveness because you “dread the loss of heaven and the pains of hell” and not because your sins “offend thee my God who art all good and deserving of all my love” you may be inviting the con.
Keeping our eyes on the prize, we direct our eyes to the Cross of Christ. It’s fun once in a while to imagine the cross as an opening to bliss; and to attempt, like Alice, to peer through that narrow gate:
…she knelt down and looked along the passage into the loveliest garden you ever saw. How she longed to get out of that dark hall, and wander about among those beds of bright flowers and those cool fountains, but she could not even get her head through the doorway.

We have a hard time getting our heads through the cross, especially when those who recruited us to the Church promised a life of blessings, security and happiness. All we had to do, we were told, is “Stay in the boat. Don’t break the rules. Pay, pray and obey.”
Paul and Barnabas urged their disciples more truly, “It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.”
It is better to begin each day with the expectation of many challenges, some disappointment and little if any satisfaction. 

And a prayer:
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.