✝️ REFLECTION CAPSULE – Aug 21, 2022: Sunday

“Responding to the invitation of the Lord to experience life with Him, in eternity, saying: ‘Plus Ultra – More Beyond’”

(Based on Isa 66:18-21, Heb 12:5-7, 11-13 and Lk 13:22-30 – 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C)

It is said that Hercules, the Greek mythological figure constructed two pillars near the Straits of Gibraltar…
… to mark the edge of the then known world.
>> These pillars had a warning on them: “Ne plus ultra – No More Beyond”.
This was a warning to sailors and navigators to go no farther!

Till the 1400s, this belief was so strong…
… that “Ne Plus ultra” was written on the edge of the maps
… that Spain even adopted that phrase as their national motto.

But in 1492, Christopher Columbus set sail into the unfamiliar areas of the world…
>> Unknown waters were explored
>> New lands were discovered
After his death in 1506 in Valladolid, Spain, a memorial was built in honour of Columbus.

A peculiar yet very interesting feature of this memorial is the statue of a lion, destroying one of those Latin words
>> The word being torn away by the lion is “ne”
Thus, the motto is made to read: “Plus Ultra – More Beyond!”

And this indeed is the truth of human life: There certainly is “More Beyond”
>> “More Beyond” this present materialistic life
>> “More Beyond” the transitory nature of this earthly life

Human beings, by nature, are inquisitive and curious.
>> There is a tendency to seek to know many things.

One of the prime aspects among all such seeking are the questions concerning the life after this life.
>> What will happen after I die?
>> Where will I go after my death?
>> Is there such thing called as a heaven or hell?
>> Will God really punish or will He lavish the license of heaven to all?

Such eschatological questions often disturb our minds & we become a bit perplexed over an uncertain future.

The Gospel of the Day presents such an eschatological question being posed to Jesus:
“Lord, will only a few be saved?” (Lk 13:23)

Jesus, has a very unique way of dealing with questions and doubts.

When we scan through some of such incidents, wherein Jesus has been asked a question or a doubt, we often find that He either doesn’t give a straight answer or sometimes even doesn’t give any answer…

>> A lawyer comes to Jesus and asks, “Who is my neighbour?” (Lk 10:29)
… Jesus doesn’t give a direct answer; instead responds with the Parable of the Good Samaritan.

>> Some people tell Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with the sacrifices, and expected Jesus to make some comments (Lk 13:1)
… Jesus doesn’t explicit a clear teaching; instead responds with the Parable of the Barren Fig Tree.

In today’s Gospel incident too, Jesus is asked about how many will be saved.
>> But Jesus chooses to respond with the Illustration of the Narrow Door.

Why does Jesus do so?
>> Why does He not respond directly to such questions, and instead answer in some other form?

One of the tendencies among many believers, including perhaps some of us, is that…
…we tend to miss the actual point, in the process of discussion.
…we fail to grasp the actual thing needed, in the course of many doubts.

We wonder about who all will be saved…
>> We wonder when this world will come to an end.
>> We wonder how many people will make to heaven
>> We wonder how many will get cast into hell.

These simple questions lead to complicated ones…
What about people who have never heard about God?
>> What about those souls in distant lands who never had a chance to know what is God?

These complicated questions further leads to some drastic conclusions (sadly!)…
What kind of God sends people to hell?!
>> If the God of the Bible is so cruel, then I don’t want to believe in Him!
>> I would better not believe in any God and rather live my life the way I want!

Well… this is the sad part!
>> It’s not that questionings or doubts are bad…or not that they are not encouraged…
But sometimes, such interrogations make us to miss the main point.

We get so entangled with doubts of the future, that we fail to prepare for the future.
>> We get so busy asking about eternal life, that we fail to live a life worthy of it!

But Jesus brings home to point…
What is needed utmost is an upright life…
… in faith and in repentance.

What is most needed is to live a life pleasing to God…
… and in seeking to do His Will.

This is the narrow way!
>> To live a life of faith, in the midst of challenges and crises, is hard!
>> To live in total repentance and brushing aside sin at every point of life, is hard!
>> To live a life seeking to live in tune with God’s Will, even if it is demanding, is hard!

This is the narrow way, to which the Lord invites us.

Let us not get too much webbed in the questions and doubts, and lose focus of what’s most needed…
… Faith, Repentance and Doing His Will.
>> Yes, we don’t live in a world which has a motto “Ne plus ultra – No More Beyond!”

Instead, Jesus, the Lion of Judah destroys that word “ne”…
>> And invites us to experience life with Him, in eternity, saying: “Plus Ultra – More Beyond”

God Bless! Live Jesus!

📖 Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism
>> At the heart of the Eucharistic celebration are the bread and wine that, by the words of Christ and the invocation of the Holy Spirit, become Christ’s Body and Blood.
>> Faithful to the Lord’s command the Church continues to do, in his memory and until his glorious return, what he did on the eve of his Passion:
“He took bread….” “He took the cup filled with wine….” the signs of bread and wine become, in a way surpassing understanding, the Body and Blood of Christ; they continue also to signify the goodness of creation.
>> Thus in the Offertory we give thanks to the Creator for bread and wine, fruit of the “work of human hands,” but above all as “fruit of the earth” and “of the vine” – gifts of the Creator.
>> The Church sees in the gesture of the king-priest Melchizedek, who “brought out bread and wine,” a prefiguring of her own offering. (CCC #1333)

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