Sunday, September 27, 2009


We’re praying this month that the Word of God be more accepted and lived. But the words that Jesus, the Word-Made-Flesh, spoke were not always easy to accept. Sometimes his word was disturbing and challenging. We see that in today’s Gospel where Jesus teaches about hell. He makes it very clear that hell is a real possibility because we humans can choose to live in a way that prepares us for life in the Kingdom of Heaven, or we can choose to live in a way that would lead us to hell. The image that Jesus used was “Gehenna” and the following excerpt from Professor Peter Kreeft’s book Heaven: The Heart’s Deepest Longing explains why this image was used.

Outside Jerusalem there was a valley called Gehenna which pagan tribes had used for human sacrifice. The Jews thought such a place fit only for burning garbage. It was later used as a biblical image of hell, the spiritual garbage dump of the cosmos. God makes no garbage, but we do; and a good cosmos must eventually purify itself of spiritual garbage like egotism, hate, greed, cowardice, or lust. Hell is the cosmic Roto-rooter service.

As Apostles of Prayer we commit ourselves to following Jesus as he leads us to heaven. We do this one day at a time, offering each day to God so that his will may be done in our lives and then reviewing our day at its end to see what exactly we have offered. In this simple way we grow in holiness.

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