Remember when Jesus declared that all foods were clean, that what is in unclean comes, not from outside a man, but from within. The same is true with the violence of our society. Guns aren't our society's problem. Neither are corrupting influences like violent video games, pornography, etc. although they can create major temptations. The real problem is the heart of man that chooses good or evil. Some people love the good. You can give them an armory of guns and they will never use them to commit evil. You can take them to a city street lined with abortion mills and they will never kill their children. Instead, they will offer life and hope to those who are choosing death . If you put them in a library full of pornographic books and videos, they will guard their eyes and pray. They don't delight in sins and when they do commit them, hasten to Confession to repent and make a firm purpose of amendment.
Then there are those who love evil. They persecute the weak for the pleasure of it. The "knockout game" is fun for them because the only life that matters is their own. They justify anything that gets them whatever it is they want: money, power, pleasure. People are to be used, not loved for themselves.
There are two paths as Scripture tells us. The narrow, difficult path that leads to life and the wide, easy path of dalliance that leads to death. On the cusp of a new year, we have the opportunity to examine the path we've followed over the past year. What do you find?
Has your path been filled with the justification of evil? Have you had an abortion or encouraged someone to abort? Do you contracept rejecting God's greatest gift, the power to create with human an unrepeatable human soul? Have you lied even about little things. Do you casually blaspheme against God and Our Lady. Do you steal, even small items, from your employer? Have you cheated on your taxes? Have you made jokes at the expense of others or bullied someone weaker than yourself? Have you engaged in emotional manipulation to get what you want? There are dozens of ways to exercise control over others. Do you know and use them? Is your life committed to selfishness? The fruit of a life of self-centered absorption is ultimately emptiness and despair.
Or have you struggled to follow the path of light? Have you done your duty giving God your first fruits by going to Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation and praying every day? Have you been responsible about training your children in the faith not just depending on CCD? Do yougive them a solid example by taking them to Confession often and praying morning, evening, and before meals.? Do you take seriously the obligations of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving and performing the spiritual and corporal works of mercy? Do you exercise control over your tongue especially toward those you find difficult? Would people who know you well describe you as a person of integrity? Do you practice the virtues of faith, hope, and charity in your daily life? Living a life for God is no easy commitment, but the fruit is true joy.
But there is a third path, the most dangerous of all. It is where the lukewarm gather. They don't want to be seriously evil, but they are too lazy and indifferent to strive for goodness. And so they choose the path of least resistance, one that guarantees their acceptance by the world while they maintain the pretense that they are people of faith. Pope Pius V condemned this group saying, "All the evil in the world is due to lukewarm Catholics." And Jesus used a disgusting metaphor for them saying, "I will vomit them out of my mouth." What a tragedy to appear on Judgment Day before God in the company of the lukewarm.
Today's Mass readings remind us of the urgency of the times. St. John tells us, "Children, it is the last hour; the antichrist was coming, so now many antichrists have appeared." We face evil that wants to destroy us and our chance for happiness with God. But John also gives hope saying, "You have the anointing that comes from the Holy One, and you all have knowledge. I write to you not because you do not know the truth but because you do, and because every lie is alien to the truth." We have our prescription for life: love for truth who is the Holy One of God, the Word who was "in the beginning" as today's second reading proclaims. What a joy we will find if we embrace the Word Made Flesh and march under his standard!
A new year is upon us. How will we use this time, perhaps our last days on earth? No one knows the day or the hour of his death. For some reading this, 2013 will encompass the final days of life. Will we live for God and life or choose the evil one and death? Don't delay in coming to Our Lord. You never know how much time you have!