The Bible Tidbit below is based on a sermon by St. Leonard of Port Maurice. The sermon is long, but worth it.
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In this Bible tidbit we are asking the question – will many people be saved?
It would seem as though Jesus himself is the source of the teaching that few would be saved. I don’t mean few out of the world, I mean few Catholics.
RSV Luke 13:23 And some one said to him, "Lord, will those who are saved be few?" And he said to them, 24 "Strive to enter by the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. 25 When once the householder has risen up and shut the door, you will begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, `Lord, open to us.' He will answer you, `I do not know where you come from.' 26 Then you will begin to say, `We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.' 27 But he will say, `I tell you, I do not know where you come from; depart from me, all you workers of iniquity!'
Here is a similar verse that is more explicit.
RSV Matthew 7:13 "Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few.
Now it is not as though God wishes that more people be damned than saved. RSV 1 Timothy 2:3 … God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
Right and Jesus says the same in:
RSV Matthew 22:14 For many are called, but few are chosen."
This parable is a great example of this:
RSV Matthew 25:1 "Then the kingdom of heaven shall be compared to ten maidens who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3 For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; 4 but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. 5 As the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. 6 But at midnight there was a cry, `Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.' 7 Then all those maidens rose and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said to the wise, `Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.' 9 But the wise replied, `Perhaps there will not be enough for us and for you; go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.' 10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast; and the door was shut. 11 Afterward the other maidens came also, saying, `Lord, lord, open to us.' 12 But he replied, `Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.'
Some from this parable we could say that 50% would be saved.
Another parable that enlightens this topic is the parable of the sower and the seeds.
This is from Mark 4 where the sower – who is Jesus – throws the seed of the good news into the world. Some of the seed falls on the road that is picked up by birds, meaning the devil – They reject God word outright. Some of the word falls on stony ground that sprouts up real fast but withers because the person is persecuted by the world because of what they believe. Some of the seed falls on thorny ground and grows but is choked by the thorns which represent the cares of this world. Finally some falls on good soil which bears fruit.
So here is the breakdown: 25% will reject God’s word outright. 50% will hear God’s word, believe it and for one reason or another fall away from the faith. The remaining 25% will be faithful and bear fruit.
Why then are people having a hard time getting into heaven?
I would suggest two reasons. The first is holiness. St. Paul says this:
RSV Hebrews 12:14 Strive for peace with all men, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.
I don’t often hear conversations about getting holy or the struggles of living and growing in holiness and maybe this is part of the reason why so many perish.
Another reason might be obedience:
RSV Luke 10:16 "He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me."
To reject the apostles and those who come after them is to reject Christ. We can’t pick and choose for ourselves what is true and what is false. We can’t say, “Jesus that whole business about divorce offends me and my new lover, but I still love you and want to follow you.” We must be obedient to what the church, which is truly the body of Christ, teaches. We can’t say, “I love Jesus but can’t stand your bride.” This is offensive to God.
So Holiness and obedience are two keys to heaven. This information sounds like a lot of bad news – Why present this to you dear reader?
This is a call to get serious out your faith. We have so many blessings in the Church – The Bible – The Saints – The Sacraments – and it feels like there is an attitude, which I am guilty of as well, that to get to heaven you just have to be a nice guy.
We aren't called to be nice – we are called to holiness where Christ and the Saints are our guides and models.