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Monsignor Yennock on Hell - Homily from August 25, 2019

Aug 27, 2019

HELL—ENTER THROUGH THE NARROW GATE

TWENTY FIRST SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

AUGUST 25, 2019

BE CAREFUL WHEN YOU ASK JESUS A QUESTION. SOMEONE IN THE CROWD ASKED HIM: “LORD, WILL ONLY A FEW PEOPLE BE SAVED?” THE PERSON WHO ASKED THIS QUESTION SOUNDS LIKE SOMEBODY WHO WAS SERIOUS ABOUT WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO HIM AFTER HE DIES. HE COULD HAVE ASKED THE QUESTION IN ANOTHER WAY: “LORD WILL A LOT OF PEOPLE GO TO HELL?”

WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO ME AFTER I DIE? EVERY RATIONAL, PERSON IN THIS WORLD HAS ASKED THAT QUESTION SOME TIME IN HIS LIFE: WHAT WILL LIFE BE LIKE FOR ME AFTER I DIE?

HERE’S WHAT THE CATHOLIC CATECHISM SAYS ABOUT WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO ME AFTER I DIE: THE BODY GOES TO THE GRAVE—DUST TO DUST. THE SPIRIT GOES INTO AN AFTERLIFE TO FACE JUDGMENT. THE RESULT OF JUDGMENT WILL BE EITHER ETERNAL LIFE WITH GOD IN HEAVEN OR ETERNAL SEPARATION FROM HIM IN HELL. 

ARCHBISHOP FULTON SHEEN PUT IT THIS WAY: "FOR WHEN THE CURTAIN GOES DOWN ON THE LAST DAY, AND WE RESPOND TO THE CURTAIN CALL OF JUDGMENT, WE WILL NOT BE ASKED WHAT PART WE PLAYED, BUT HOW WELL WE PLAYED THE PART THAT WAS ASSIGNED TO US"

THE PEW FORUM ON RELIGION AND PUBLIC LIFE FOUND IN A 2015 SURVEY THAT 94% OF AMERICANS BELIEVE IN GOD; 74% BELIEVE IN HEAVEN AND 59% BELIEVE IN HELL.

IT IS INTERESTING THAT MOST PEOPLE BELIEVE THAT THEY WILL BE REWARDED IN HEAVEN FOR THE GOOD THAT THEY HAVE DONE.  BUT NOT AS MANY BELIEVE THAT THEY WILL BE PUNISHED IN HELL FOR THE EVIL THEY HAVE DONE. THAT’S CURIOUS BECAUSE IT SHOULD WORK BOTH WAYS.

THE BIBLE TELLS US THAT HELL IS A REALITY. EVERY HONEST PERSON HAS TO FACE THAT REALITY.

HELL IS MENTIONED 54 TIMES IN THE BIBLE

AMAZINGLY, 13 PERCENT OF JESUS SAYINGS ARE ABOUT HELL AND JUDGMENT; MORE THAN HALF OF HIS PARABLES RELATE TO THE ETERNAL JUDGMENT OF SINNERS.

ONLY A FOOL WOULD BELIEVE THAT WE CAN DELIBERATELY DISOBEY THE LORD OF THE UNIVERSE AND GET AWAY WITH IT.

BESIDES THE BIBLE, WE HAVE THE WITNESS OF HOLY MEN AND WOMEN THROUGH THE CENTURIES WHO TELL US THAT HELL IS REAL AND THAT THERE ARE SOULS IN HELL. THE CHILDREN AT FATIMA SAID THEY SAW SOULS FALLING INTO HELL LIKE SNOWFLAKES.

  1. PAUL SAYS THAT HELL IS NOT THE CHOICE OF GOD. IT IS THE CHOICE OF THE PERSON WHO WANTS TO REJECT GOD.

A CRIMINAL IN ENGLAND WAS ON HIS WAY TO EXECUTION. THE MINISTER WAS READING FROM THE BIBLE ABOUT HEAVEN AND HELL. THE CRIMINAL PAUSED AND LOOKED UP AT THE MINISTER. HE SAID: “IF I BELIEVED WHAT YOU ARE READING I WOULD CRAWL ON MY HANDS AND KNEES ACROSS ENGLAND TO SAVE ONE SOUL FROM HELL.”

SOME PEOPLE HAVE A HARD TIME BELIEVING IN HELL. THEY SAY:  HOW COULD A LOVING GOD ALLOW ANYONE TO SUFFER IN HELL FOR ALL ETERNITY.

AT FIRST GLANCE THAT SOUNDS LIKE A REASONABLE QUESTION, UNTIL WE CONSIDER THESE QUESTIONS:

HOW COULD GOD ALLOW DISEASE IN THE WORLD? HOW COULD GOD ALLOW THE TORTURE OF JAILS AND PRISONS FOR CRIMINALS? HOW COULD GOD ALLOW OVER A MILLION DEATHS AND A MILLION AND A HALF WOUNDED MEN AND WOMEN FROM OUR WARS?

HOW COULD GOD ALLOW THE DEATHS OF OVER 100,000 PEOPLE IN HIROSHIMA AND OVER 80,000 PEOPLE IN NAGASAKI FROM THE ATOM BOMB?

HOW COULD GOD ALLOW OVER FIVE MILLION SYRIAN REFUGEES TO WANDER THE FACE OF THE EARTH? WE COULD GO ON AND ON LISTING ALL OF THE HUMAN MISERY CAUSED BY NATURAL DISASTERS AND THE VIOLENCE PERPETRATED BY EVIL MEN AND WOMEN.

THE KEY TO ALL THESE QUESTIONS IS FREE WILL. ONCE THE CREATOR GAVE US THE LUXURY OF CHOISE HE HAD TO ALLOW THE POSSIBILITY OF GOOD AND EVIL. BY THE GRACE OF GOD WE ARE FREE TO CHOOSE THE GOOD, THE TRUE AND THE BEAUTIFUL. WE ARE ALSO FREE TO REJECT GOD’S GRACE AND TO CHOOSE THE EVIL, THE LIE, AND THE UGLY.

WHEN PEOPLE DENY THE EXISTENCE OF HELL THEY BEGIN TO DENY THE EXISTENCE OF SIN AND EVIL. WHEN PEOPLE DENY THE EXISTENCE OF SIN AND EVIL THEY BEGIN TO DENY THE EXISTENCE OF A LAWGIVER. ATHEISM LEADS TO DESPAIR. IT IS THE GATEWAY TO ADDICTION, DEPRESSION AND SUICIDE. WHY DID THE BILLIONAIRE JEFFREY EPSTEIN COMMIT SUICIDE?

FOR SEVERAL DECADES NOW IT HAS BECOME FASHIONABLE AMONG SOME OF OUR INTELLECTUALS TO DROP ANY REFERENCE TO SIN, GUILT, REPENTANCE, CONFESSION, HEAVEN AND HELL.

IT IS SAID THAT ALL SOCIAL ENGINEERING IS PRECEDED BY VERBAL ENGINEERING.A FEW YEARS AGO THE JUNIOR OXFORD DICTIONARY DELETED THE WORD SIN BECAUSE IT WAS NO LONGER RELEVANT.

THE WORD SIN HAS BEEN REPLACED WITH THE WORD SICKNESS. THE WORDS SINFUL BEHAVIOR HAVE BEEN REPLACED WITH THE WORDS INAPPROPRIATE BEHAVIOR. THE WORDS VIRTUE AND VICE HAVE BEEN REPLACED WITH THAT ILLUSIVE WORD THAT WE CALL VALUES. THESE CHANGES HAVE BEEN DESCRIBED AS THE NEW FREEDOM. LET US SEE HOW THE NEW FREEDOM HAS WORKED FOR US.

NOW THAT WE HAVE CALLED EVERY SIN A DISEASE PEOPLE FLOCK TO GROUPS LIKE GAMBLERS ANONYMOUS, PILL ADDICTS ANONYMOUS, SEX ADDICTS ANONYMOUS, YOUTH EMOTIONS ANONYMOUS, UNWED PARENTS ANONYMOUS, EMOTIONAL HEALTH ANONYMOUS, DEBTORS ANONYMOUS, DUAL DISORDERS ANONYMOUS, BATTERERS ANONYMOUS, VICTIMS ANONYMOUS AND SEX OFFENDERS ANONYMOUS.

THIS DOES NOT SOUND LIKE THE NEW FREEDOM WE WERE PROMISED. IT SOUNDS MORE LIKE A NEW SLAVERY.

HOBART MOWRER A PSYCHOLOGIST, PROFESSOR AT HARVARD AND YALE, AN ATHEIST AND A SKEPTIC WHO COMMITTED SUICIDE AT THE AGE OF 75 SHOCKED HIS FRIENDS AND COLLEAGUES WHEN HE MADE THIS STATEMENT:

 “FOR SEVERAL DECADES WE PSYCHOLOGISTS LOOKED UPON THE WHOLE MATTER OF SIN AND MORAL ACCOUNTABILITY AS A MYTH, AND ACCLAIMED OUR LIBERATION FROM IT AS EPOCH MAKING.

BUT AT LENGTH WE HAVE DISCOVERED THAT TO BE FREE IN THIS SENSE, THAT IS, TO HAVE THE EXCUSE OF BEING SICK RATHER THAN SINFUL, IS TO COURT THE DANGER OF ALSO BECOMING LOST…

IN BECOMING AMORAL, ETHICALLY NEUTRAL AND FREE, WE HAVE CUT THE VERY ROOTS OF OUR BEING. WE HAVE LOST OUR DEEPEST SENSE OF SELFHOOD AND IDENTITY.  WITH NEUROTICS, THEMSELVES, WE FIND OURSELVES ASKING: WHO AM I, WHAT IS MY DEEPEST DESTINY, WHAT DOES LIVING MEAN?”

MAN IS NOT ONLY LOST IN GUILT. HE IS LOST IN SIN. I CAN SAY OVER AND OVER AGAIN: I AM GUILTY, I AM GUILTY, I AM GUILTY. IT IS ONLY WHEN I SAY: I AM A SINNER THAT I WILL HAVE HOPE OF FORGIVENESS. IT IS ONLY WHEN I SAY:  I AM A SINNER WILL I ADMIT THAT I NEED A SAVIOR. IT IS ONLY WHEN I SAY: I AM A SINNER, THAT I WILL ADMIT I NEED TO BE REDEEMED. IT IS ONLY WHEN I SAY: I AM A SINNER THAT I WILL BE ABLE TO REPENT AND BE SAVED.

DID YOU KNOW THAT THE ONLY WORLD RELIGION THAT SPEAKS OF REDEMPTION IS THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION? REDEMPTION, FORGIVENESS AND HEALING ARE POSSIBLE FOR US ONLY THROUGH THE CROSS AND RESURECTION OF JESUS CHRIST. AFTER ALL HE IS THE ONE THAT WE HAVE OFFENDED. HE IS THE ONE TO FORGIVE US.

JESUS SAID: I HAVE COME THAT YOU MIGHT HAVE LIFE AND HAVE IT MORE ABUNDANTLY.ONE OF THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN JESUS CHRIST AND ETHICAL MORALISTS IS THAT JESUS DID NOT COME TO MAKE BAD MEN GOOD. HE CAME TO MAKE DEAD MEN LIVE. WHEN WE ARE IN SIN WE ARE DEAD. WHEN WE REPENT WE ARE READY TO BE FORGIVEN. FORGIVENESS LEADS TO ABUNDANT LIFE.

OUR YOUNG PEOPLE HAVE LOST THE MEANING OF LIFE. WHEN THEY DENY THE EXISTENCE OF SIN AND EVIL THEY DENY THE EXISTENCE OF AN ETERNAL LAWGIVER. WITHOUT THE ETERNAL LAWGIVER WHO WILL TAKE AWAY THEIR GUILT?

THEY CAN NO LONGER BEAR TO LIVE IN THE PRISON OF THEIR OWN GUILT. THAT IS ONE OF THE REASONS BEHIND ADDICTION AND INCREASED SUICIDE.

NOW THAT SIN AND GUILT HAVE BEEN REDEFINED AS DISEASE, GROWING NUMBERS OF OUR YOUNG PEOPLE DO NOT KNOW WHERE TO GO TO RID THEMSELVES OF THE DISEASE OF GUILT.

THE FIRST THING JESUS DID WHEN HE CAME OUT OF THE TOMB ON EASTER SUNDAY WAS TO GIVE THE APOSTLES THE POWER TO FORGIVE SINS. THE FIRST PRIORITY OF A LOVING SAVIOR WAS TO HELP US GET RID OF SIN AND GUILT BY GOING TO CONFESSION.

WHEN WE KNEEL DOWN AND OPEN OURSELVES TO THE LORD OF THE UNIVERSE THE POWER OF CONESSION TAKES AWAY GUILT AND HEALS THE SOUL. WHEN WE SAY BLESS ME FATHER FOR I HAVE SINNED WE REGAIN THE STRENGTH TO PICK OURSELVES UP FROM THE DEPTHS OF DESPAIR.

 “LORD, WILL ONLY A FEW PEOPLE BE SAVED?” HE ANSWERED THEM: “STRIVE TO ENTER THROUGH THE NARROW GATE, FOR MANY, I TELL YOU WILL ATTEMPT TO ENTER BUT WILL NOT BE STRONG ENOUGH.

“AFTER THE MASTER OF THE HOUSE HAS ARISEN AND LOCKED THE DOOR, THEN WILL YOU STAND OUTSIDE KNOCKING AND SAYING ‘LORD OPEN THE DOOR FOR US’. HE WILL SAY TO YOU IN REPLY, ‘I DO NOT KNOW WHERE YOU ARE FROM.’ AND YOU WILL SAY, ‘WE ATE AND DRANK IN YOUR COMPANY AND YOU TAUGHT IN OUR STREETS’ THEN HE WILL SAY TO YOU, ‘I DO NOT KNOW WHERE YOU ARE FROM. DEPART FROM ME, ALL YOU EVILDOERS!’

‘AND THERE WILL BE WAILING AND GRINDING OF TEETH WHEN YOU SEE ABRAHAM, ISAAC AND JACOB AND ALL THE PROPHETS IN THE KINGDOM OF GOD, AND YOU, YOURSELVES CAST OUT. AND PEOPLE WILL COME FROM THE EAST AND THE WEST AND FROM THE NORTH AND THE SOUTH AND WILL RECLINE AT TABLE IN THE KINGDOM OF GOD. FOR BEHOLD, SOME ARE LAST WHO WILL BE FIRST, AND SOME ARE FIRST WHO WILL BE LAST.

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