A reading from the holy Gospel according to Luke:13:22-30
Jesus passed through towns and villages,
teaching as he went and making his way to Jerusalem.
Someone asked him,
"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.”
Hell is real.
Like many throughout history, this author attests:
Thou hast called me: Lord, I hasten to thy throne and there remain. Blazing with love to thy compassionate eyes Gaze sorrowfully into my heart:
Lord, I come. I was lost, perplexed and dejected, Destined for Hell and torment….
I am filled with sorrow at the dark power of sin, And I cannot look back. I must not lose thee, At night, terrified and oppressed, I see thee, I see thee and I cannot let thee go. Thou art so gentle, true and kind, So loving, thou dear Saviour of sinners! Appease my longing, Let my soul and my thoughts rest in thy love
And remain forever with thee.
These words appear earnest and searching, they seem to come from an anguished human soul searching for its rest.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus did not mince words. He speaks of Hell as a distinct place outside of the Kingdom of God. It is existing outside and disunited with the Blessed Trinity. Many saints and poets have shared with us their insights of Hell throughout the century, yet it is the aforementioned stanzas that struck me with certainty because the author was none other than Friedrich Nietzsche. He wrote this poem at the age of eighteen. He then went on to become an infamous and influential atheist for the ideas which he sowed into modern philosophy, politics and secular thought.
How could an intellectual, Christian-raised young man who wrote words like the above, become what he became? Only God can judge him in the end, but the legacy Nietzsche left us highlights the potential of the human person; that it can be devastatingly dangerous when something goes wrong in the internal battleground of the human soul.
At the preparation for the canonization of the two children of Fatima, St Francisco and St Jacinta, some of the organizers were hoping to find a more joyful photograph of the children for the canonization. As it were, the images chosen were of the children looking serious, and full of concern because there were no joyful images to be found. We must not forget that these holy children were given the vision of Hell by Our Lady. How would one look and how would one’s life change after such terrifying visions? St Francisco and St Jacinta lived the remainder of their short lives on earth making reparation for sins and praying for the Church, in particular, for the Holy Father.
May we be ever mindful of our own weaknesses as to always rely on the prayers of the saints, the help of the angels and ultimately, the grace of God in all the struggles we face.