Recently, I listened to a talk on Youtube from a well-known Rabbi. He explained the ancient Jewish concept that things either improve or deteriorate: They don’t remain static. This is generally true. Companies that “rest on their laurels” or make poor management decisions often go bankrupt. Eaton’s, the once very successful Canadian retailer, and BSA, the British firm that once dominated motorcycle manufacturing, are two examples. Conversely, well run, growing companies such as Tim Horton’s and Canadian Tire constantly adapt to changing market conditions and strive for excellence. How does this relate to our spiritual lives?
All of us are born with the stain of original sin and a strong inclination to evil that the Church calls concupiscence. Nevertheless, very young children are generally innocent, happy and relatively good. As they age, the majority of people discover the pleasures of sin. They lose their innocence, their hearts harden and eventually they become so spiritually corrupt that they cannot embrace God’s grace. The vast majority of these “children of hell” do not, I believe, consciously decide to become ever-more evil. They simply neglect to care for their souls as they are led astray by the flesh, the world and the devil.
Many other souls are lost in spite of becoming religious. They are baptized, attend Mass regularly, go to confession, pray, etc., but, like the Pharisees of Jesus’ time, they miss the main point of religion. They practice their faith superficially and as a matter of habit while remaining blind and deaf to its true nature and purpose. They may not use foul language, get drunk or fornicate but the devil fills their hearts with resentment, pride and self-righteousness. They, too, become ever-more evil because they neglect to properly care for their souls.
Those who are being saved do not take salvation for granted. They always consider themselves to be sinners and are never satisfied with their spiritual progress. They tend to overlook the faults of others but strictly judge themselves. They often think about death and the fact that they will be judged. They adopt, as their highest ambition, Jesus’ admonishment to, “Be perfect … as your heavenly father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48).
Years ago, someone offered to give me an old snowmobile trailer. I hauled it out of a field, parked it in my garage and inspected it. Every part of it needed to be repaired, replaced or refinished. I imagined how good it must have been when it was new. But now, because of years of neglect, it was fit only for the scrap yard. If you are improving spiritually, do not relax your efforts. If you have allowed your soul to become corrupt, repent and begin anew. Jesus has paid the price for our sins. Through faith, good works and by God’s grace you may become holy and fit for heaven.