Gospel reflection – Luke 18:9-14

“Highway to Hell”

 I’m going to let you in on a little secret.

It’s really hard to achieve eternal damnation.

This is the insight I’ve derived from  years of prayer,  of reflecting on and teaching Catholic Christian theology and, most importantly, of  life experience.   There’s just no easy way to overcome the thundering, Niagra Falls-like, grace of God.  No matter how miserable a cretin you strive to be, if you leave God any opening at all – just one kind act or one tiny prayer – you’ve likely let enough grace into your heart to prevent you from making the decision  to totally and eternally reject God and communion with the rest of us fractured but forgiven souls.   (Yes, I mean decision. Free Will allows each one of us to choose our destiny of eternal bliss or oblivion.)

If you’re the kind of thrill seeker who still wants to give the whole eternal damnation thing a try, however, Jesus shows you the way in this week’s gospel.  Consider it, to borrow a title from AC/DC, the “Highway to Hell”.

The key is in the introduction to the parable: “Jesus addressed this parable to those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despise everyone else.” 

There’s the way:

 1) Embrace hypocrisy.  People of integrity are people whose inside matches their outside – they know who they are and what they value and they allow themselves to be purified by God so that they increasingly become reflections of God’s holiness and grace. 

 Hypocrites want none of that.  Work hard at achieving a separation between who you really are and who you think you are. Convince yourself you are better than the rest of us.  .  Allow the darkness to become so dark inside of yourself that you actually begin to think it’s light.

2) Find someone or some group to truly despise.  Doesn’t matter who. Muslims. The homeless. Liberal/ Conservative Christians. Gays and lesbians. People who own guns.  Even people with bad haircuts.  Just focus exclusively on every fault-real or imagined-you can think of which that person or group might possess..  Luxiuriate, like the Pharisee does in the gospel, over the vast  moral difference between you and those you have determined to be your inferiors.  Keep going until you’ve convinced yourself that all of this hatred is not eminating from the nether regions of your soul – but from God himself.   

Now you’re cooking. (Pun intended.)

Jim Philipps (3rd millennium pilgrim)

(To read my book length reflections on the Bible, go to www.twentythirdpublications.com)

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