Monday, May 12, 2014


Friends of Faith:

Like everyone else in this “speed up” and “instant gratification” world I am always on the lookout for shortcuts. Whether it is a new “speed key” on my computer keyboard, “speed dial” on my phone, a new gadget that makes cleaning the house simpler, or a new diet product that will make the pounds “wash away” shortcuts seem like they should make life easier and be “fool” proof.

But as someone who loves to bakes knows by having learned the hard way, short cuts often have unintended, unlikely, or undesired consequences, and are definitely not “fool proof.” I have tried many recipes, I have only found one that is perfect every time. I have had dough that was flat because in my haste I forgot an ingredient, kolaches that have turned out like hockey pucks because I didn’t bake them at the right temperature and bread that was heavy because I didn’t have the patience to let it sit and raise to become “holey” enough.

Likewise Jesus tells us that there are no shortcuts to a perfect eternity with him in heaven. He tells us that he is the leader and that there is one path. And we are to be wary of anyone who tries to lead us on a shortcut, over a shorter fence, to what may seem like a less costly (in terms of sacrifice and suffering) way.
“Jesus said: “Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber. But whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice, as the shepherd calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has driven out all his own, he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice.  But they will not follow a stranger; they will run away from him, because they do not recognize the voice of strangers.” Although Jesus used this figure of speech, the Pharisees did not realize what he was trying to tell them.

So Jesus said again, “Amen, amen, I say to you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy; I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.’” Jn 10: 1-10

Jesus even realized we wouldn’t get it (that it would be difficult for us to understand his ideas; that our human nature would lead us to want to take shortcuts) so he explained himself twice to his apostles.

And while I might know that I want to follow God’s recipe and I might even be following His recipe in some certain ways, as someone who is less than complete (unbaked) J I need to re-examine my life to be sure that I am not being led astray (by shortcuts that will provide me less than perfect results). Because I do have a desire to reach the perfection of what is His holiness I don’t want to fall flat, turn hard, or fail to rise because of my own failures to follow Him through His open gate.
Some of what I see as the more obvious shortcuts taken by this world in trying to reach God’s perfection: a belief that every recipe (church, small c) is equal—God created only one perfect Church (capital C) with His Son, His Spirit, Sacred Scripture and Sacraments as the baker, the recipe and the ingredients; a belief that I can make it easier, cheaper, or “my way”—by using less or lesser ingredients (margarine instead of butter)—believing in a watered down message, or failing to read or measure His Word through His Church and the Spirit; a belief that I shouldn’t or won’t be asked to sit patiently while he “raises” me through His eyes, not mine (that my prayers will be answered either my way or immediately); or a belief that I can bake at any oven temperature (that God doesn’t or won’t require us to suffer or make sacrifices)—that everything will always be “cool” and easy and there won’t be any “hot” and difficult moments of life.

Almighty God, You are the Way, the Truth and the Life. You gave us Your Spirit through the Church to guide us and teach us the recipe for living life Your way. You gave us this world with all of the right ingredients, help me to use your gifts properly. You gave us Your son, Jesus, the Bread of Life to allow us to receive Your reward. Help me to avoid the shortcuts, and have patience as You knead me into an instrument of Your faith. May I be allowed to taste the Bread of Life. Amen.
Don’t take shortcuts. Follow Him where He leads, and by your example give out His perfect recipe to others.

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