Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
St. Dominic Church, NOLA
To become a saint, you must find the strength to squeeze through the Narrow Gate. To squeeze through the Narrow Gate, you must burn away anything and everything about you that is not of Christ. And to do that, you need Christ and his Church. Those we remember this evening – all the saints in heaven – found the strength, the courage, the perseverance, and the humility to make it to the other side of the Gate. Where did they find all these necessary virtues? In Christ. Through the hard work of burning away anything and everything that is not of Christ. They became Christs for others. But they did not do this work alone. They received the graces God the Father poured out for them and used those graces to show His love at work in the world. Whatever gifts they were given – teaching, preaching, healing; tending the poor and outcast; enduring persecution; bearing witness with their holy lives – whatever gifts they were given were used to announce the abundant mercy of God and to give Him glory. The Gate to heaven is narrow not b/c God wants most of us to go to Hell. . .but b/c that Gate is Christ-shaped. If we hope to enter through it, we too must be shaped by Christ.
What does being “Christ-shaped” look like? And how do we become like him? John writes, “. . .we are God's children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him. . .” He goes on to write, “Everyone who has this hope based on him makes himself pure, as he is pure.” Those who entered through the Narrow Gate were pure. Pure in Christ. As pure as Christ. They were – while living among us – purely Christ. Nothing that was not-Christ clung to them in this life. And in death they fit perfectly through the Christ-shaped Gate to heaven. How do we accomplish this? John writes, “. . .whoever keeps his word, the love of God is truly perfected in him. This is the way we may know that we are in union with him; whoever claims to abide in him ought to live [just] as he lived.” Live just as he lived. Preaching God's mercy. Teaching His truth. Healing with His forgiveness of sin. Feeding, clothing, visiting those in need. Pouring ourselves out in sacrificial love so that nothing is left in us but the Christ who gives us the grace to pour. Only then will we be Christ-shaped, fitting perfectly through his heavenly Gate.
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