This indication can easily be attributed to Christ himself who once said: “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough.” (Lk 13,24)
These words came as a response to his disciples’ question whether only a few would be saved. The disciples must have felt overwhelmed when Christ described how the Kingdom of God is like and what would be needed to enter it. (cfr. Lk 13,18-21)
Christ was trying to be realistic about our human condition here on earth, marked as it is by our penchant for the so-called “good life,” where we like to drown ourselves in all sorts of material comfort and luxuries. Such life is definitely a matter of self-indulgence, the antithesis of love which we are supposed to live since we are the image and likeness of God whose very essence is love as shown, lived and shared with us by Christ.
This Christ-given indication is not about cultivating a dark, gloomy life here on earth, since true Christian life is always a happy and joyful life, marked by faith, hope and charity in all the situations of our life, whether good or bad humanly speaking. It is about being realistic about our human condition and about how to orient it to its proper end.
Yes, there is a great need for us to declare an unrelenting war against our self-indulgence which has become a very formidable problem we all have. This has always been a problem to us, but these days it is much more so.
With the many new wonderful things that can instantly give us convenience, comfort, pleasure and satisfaction, many of us are trapped into the very sticky web of obsessions, addictions and the many other forms of self-indulgence that feed on our weaknesses, like lust, pride, conceit, gluttony, unhinged curiosities, envy, etc., etc.
We just have to give a cursory look around to see how bad this problem is. Many people are just looking at their cellphones most of the time. There are reports saying that many young people often forget their meals and lose sleep because of what they do in the Internet. It’s clear they are terribly hooked there and it seems it’s now next to the impossible to get them out of there.
As a result, many duties and responsibilities are left unattended. Disorder and chaos are fast gaining ground as priorities are skewed. Superficiality has now become a mainstream lifestyle, reinforcing the trend toward consumerism, materialism and what Pope Francis refers to as the “throw-away culture” where ethical and moral considerations are ignored or even flouted, i.e., regarded with contempt. In short, God is thrown out of their lives.
Yes, many people are now living in their own world, detached from the realities of life. Their spiritual and social life, their relation with God and with others are now all but non-existent. At best, they give only appearances of these unavoidable aspects of life, enough to meet at least certain external expectations.
We have to react to this unfolding and disturbing reality with drastic measures. We have to do this with coordinated efforts, involving as many of us as possible. Let us recover our true bearing that in the end is rooted on the spiritual and supernatural, on our intimate relation with God that should translate into our increasingly intimate relation with everybody else.*