Question 98



“Not everyone who says ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father, who is in Heaven.” (Read Matthew 7:21-7.) 

This is the passage that concludes the great Sermon on the Mount, which encapsulates the preaching of Jesus. He is warning us against what today can be called the “sugar coated Gospel.” The sugar coated Gospel is one that stresses upbeat feelings, positive thinking, and looking out for yourself. There are lots of “Be nice to others, and to yourself,” and “God loves you just the way you are.” This gospel accommodates itself to the surrounding culture, and avoids being very far out of step with contemporary trends. This gospel places high value upon popularity rankings. But it does not prepare us for the real temptations that will inevitably come from the world, the flesh and the devil. It makes few demands upon us. 

A friend of mine in California described an RCIA program in his parish along these lines. The program mentioned abortion, but excluded the entire third pillar of the Catechism, which is about morality. There was nothing on the formation of conscience and the Ten Commandments. 

This kind of catechesis is something like a football coach placing more emphasis upon the new, sharp-looking, uniforms of his players than upon stressing basic drills and physical calisthenics. You can imagine what happens when his team faces some reality on the gridiron. 

Jesus assures us that “only he who does the will of my Father in heaven will enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” God has made his will known by revealing the Ten Commandments, and by explaining his plan for marriage, spousal love and family. That is what He expects of us. If people are not taught these things, then how will they be prepared to withstand the typhoons, cyclones and floods of worldly temptation? 

Young people today face some formidable odds in our society. They face a 50% divorce rate, and 80% cohabitation rate, and 85% contraception rate where 40% of Catholics of childbearing years are now sterilized. If future generations are to avoid the total collapse of their house, then they must take the words of Christ seriously. They must know what the Father wants and expects of us. This means they must first hear these things from pulpits. They must put the teaching of Jesus into practice. And they must place their full confidence in the help of the Lord. Heaven is within the grasp of everyone, but not without a real struggle with the temptations coming from a fallen world. 

We are called to continual conversion of mind and heart. That is why we cannot be content with our present condition in the sight of the Lord. The Gospel constantly challenges us to take the next step, to move closer to God and to relinquish the grip of the world upon us. This has clear implications for those who are trapped in the contraceptive culture. 

Too often the authentic Gospel is replaced with the “Sugar Coated” Gospel.

“Not everyone who says ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father, who is in Heaven.” 

Cordially your,
Fr. Matthew Habiger OSB