St. Teresa of Avila in her Way of Perfection explains that salvation is the greatest treasure available to everyone of us. Therefore, she teaches, it is a stupid idea to believe the road to it is not filled with thieves and dangers.
What a strange idea that one could ever expect to travel on a road infested by thieves, for the purpose of gaining some great treasure, without running into danger!
(Avila, St. Teresa, Way of Perfection, (New York; Image Books; 1964) p.73)
So salvation, which is the fullness of happiness, for all eternity is our greatest desire for ourselves and for our loved ones.
Jesus talks to us today about the bread that fails to satisfy versus the bread that satisfies. We actually studied what he was referring to in our class on happiness. We learned from St. Thomas Aquinas that we find true happiness only in union with God, for this alone indeed satisfies all desires for all eternity. That means there are other forms of happiness, but they will leave you wanting more. Only union with God the Father, through Jesus Christ, will lead us to the fullness of happiness, which is what Salvation is. This is what Jesus is inferring in today’s Gospel.
Through him we find the fullness of happiness. Outside of him, we find less than what we truly seek. The saints tell us that the worst pain of Hell is having this deep longing for God but unable to encounter Him.
Jesus explains that it is sheer joy when our happiness is complete. So Jesus gives all he can that we can be in union with the Father which is what our salvation is. So, He offers us his flesh in the Eucharist as the source of Grace that will help us to come to salvation.
Let us go back to my first statement. The Lord wants to do all he can for us to find union with the Father. But, there are other forces, the forces of evil that want to do all they can to prevent us from salvation. They try to lead us to seek a lesser happiness in pleasure that sidetracks us from the road. They are the thieves and marauders referenced by St. Teresa of Avila.
This is the battle we experience in our lives and in our world.
William McGurn wrote in the Wall Street Journal this week a major concern. We have heard of the latest scandals in the Church especially involving a now former American Cardinal. Now people are angrily asking how this happened. But the piece brought up a bigger concern. Let me explain.
Jesus came that we may have that salvation and that salvation is real. However, the writer explained, people will abandon the faith altogether for the teachings of science without faith which ignore anything beyond what you can see around you. (cf: William McGurn, When the Cardinal Sins WSJ July 31, 2018)
Jesus explains that we have a destiny greater than what we can see and what science can promise us. However, without faith in his leadership to that greater destiny of salvation, which is true happiness, we will never find it. Hebrews even proclaims this:
"Without faith it is impossible to please him for anyone who approaches God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him."
(Hebrew 11:6 NABRE)
This is always the true danger including in the current scandals. Further, those involved in scandal even if regardless of whom he is, without true and full repentance, will never see outside the gates of Hell. Sometime look at the unique final demise of Arias.
The message is important. Jesus’ promise is real and there are forces that will do all they can to get you to give up on that promise. They will do even more to ensure that you never teach others about it. The enemy of humanity wants desperately for each one of us to leave that road long before any of us find the greatest treasure.
There is something fascinating in all of this. It is what goes on behind the scenes not in the hierarchy, but in the world.
Those who know the messages of Fatima know that Mary predicted a time of great trial for the world and the Church. She even added that many souls would be lost to sins of the flesh.
There is another more fascinating prophecy and it is in your copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church which is the Church’s teaching. It is number 675 and this is what you will see:
Before Christ's second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers. The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth will unveil the "mystery of iniquity" in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. the supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh. (CCC 675)
Cardinal Burke citing this passage raised the idea that we are now in the midst of this time. In light of that by the way, there will be a nationwide rosary from August 15, the solemnity of the Assumption of Mary to October 7th the Feast of the Holy Rosary.
That aside, we are well on the way of St. Teresa’s road. All we have to do to become lost is to just become distracted by that curious item that leads us away from that treasure and our salvation.
This does not mean that we ignore what is going wrong. We recognize the damage that this has done not so much in Earthly issues but in the message of salvation that Christ calls us to bring. There is a reason why Jesus gave one of his strongest woes to those who cause scandal. But we also recognize our need to stay faithful to ensure that message gets out. It is, however, a difficult road because it leads to the greatest of all treasure. There is a lot at stake—our own souls as well as the souls of every person you meet every day.
Those who chose to live in scandal have an eternity awaiting them that without their total repentance is the most horrible place. It is so horrible it is beyond your imagination.
We can only find happiness to the fullest, good measure, pressed down and overflowing when we finish that journey and reach the treasure that Christ promises to us through his flesh and blood. But while we are on the way, we get hints of that treasure, in the joys we experience in life, in the beauty of nature, in our prayer and in our growing union with Christ through His body and blood. We seek to share that quest with others to bring them on the road to salvation—the fullness of happiness.