WALKING WITH GOD
Rev. John Kha Tran
The day finally arrived. Forrest Gump dies and goes to Heaven... He is at the Pearly Gates, met by St. Peter. However, the gates are closed. St. Peter said, ‘Well, Forrest, it is certainly good to see you. I must tell you, though; we have been administering an entrance examination for everyone. The test is short, but you have to pass it before you can get into Heaven.’ Forrest responds, ‘Nobody ever told me about any entrance exam.’
St. Peter continued, “Yes, I know, Forrest, but the test is only three questions.
First: What two days of the week begin with the letter T?
Second: How many seconds are there in a year?
And third: What is God's first name?’
Forrest leaves to think the questions over. He returns the next day and sees St. Peter, who waves him up, and says, ‘Now that you have had a chance to think the questions over, tell me your answers.’
Forrest replied, ‘Well, the first one -- which two days in the week begins with the letter 'T'? Shucks, that one is easy. That would be Today and Tomorrow.’
The Saint's eyes opened wide and he exclaimed, ‘Forrest, that is not what I was thinking, but you do have a point, and I guess I did not specify, so I will give you credit for that answer. How about the next one? How many seconds in a year?’
Now that one is harder,' replied Forrest, 'but I think and think about that, and I guess the only answer can be twelve.'
Astounded, St. Peter said, 'Twelve? Forrest, how in Heaven's name could you come up with twelve seconds in a year?'
Forrest replied, 'Shucks, there's got to be twelve: January 2nd, February 2nd, March 2nd... '
“Hold it,” interrupts St. Peter. “I see where you are going with this, and I see your point, though that was not quite what I had in mind . . . but I will have to give you credit for that one, too. Let us go on with the third and final question. Can you tell me God's first name'?
'Sure,' Forrest replied, “it's Andy.”
'Andy?' St. Peter exclaimed frustrated. “Ok, I can understand how you came up with your answers to my first two questions, but just how in the world did you come up with the name Andy as the first name of God?'
“Shucks, that was the easiest one of all,” Forrest replied. 'I learnt it from the song at church, ANDY WALKS WITH ME, ANDY TALKS WITH ME, ANDY TELLS ME I AM HIS OWN.'
St. Peter opened the Pearly Gates, and said: 'Run, Forrest, run.'
Do you want to go to heaven? Yes!
Can you get to heaven? Yes!
How are you going to get there?
If we are walking with God and God is walking with us in this life, surely we are heading toward heaven! We will get there.
Jesus is the gateway to heaven. The Easter season has directed our attention to the proofs of Jesus’ resurrection. Many of his appearances are intended to strengthen our belief in his bodily resurrection. The emphasis is frequently on certain physical characteristics: He looks like a gardener. He breaks the bread in front of the two disciples. He eats food. He invites Thomas to touch him. He is telling his followers that he is the same one who walked and ate with them before. He was real. Today the Church celebrates the feast of Jesus’ Ascension. He has accomplished his mission on earth, and now being exulted and enthroned at the right hand of God in heaven. Jesus’ exultation is the promise of exultation for his followers as well. There is life after death. There is heaven where we will be with Jesus and with God in eternity. For one reason or others, many people, however, still do not believe in Jesus. Jesus’ Ascension is the end of his mission on earth and marks the turning point in the life of the Church. He entrusts to the Church his mission on earth, "Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned.”
Many of you have heard comments on the conflict involves Georgetown Catholic University's invitation to Kathleen Sebelius who has a long aggressive record as abortion advocate, and the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), to speak at a commencement event last Friday. Critics say that as a Catholic university, Georgetown should not have invited her, a noted proponent of the recent controversial rule about religious institutions and insurance coverage for contraception. Georgetown President John J. DeGioia, however, cited the University's commitment to the free exchange of ideas as a reason to honor Sebelius' invitation. “We are a university, committed to the free exchange of ideas. We are a community that draws inspiration from a religious tradition that provides us with an intellectual, moral, and spiritual foundation. By engaging these values we become the University we are meant to be.” Stating that the University is committed to ‘free of exchange of ideas means the University is no longer committed to Catholic mission. Catholic Universities are right arm and left arms of the Church to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ to the world. A true Catholic University ought to commit unequivocally to the commission of Jesus, “"Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned.”
Jesus is clear on his commission, “Go and proclaim.” It is our responsibility to go into the world not to proclaim freedom of expression, or anything else, but the gospel of Jesus Christ. The problem in the Church today, especially among many Catholic intellectuals, is having an equivocal approach to ‘multiculturalism’ and a misunderstanding of tolerance. Yes we are from different backgrounds, different races, different nationalities, different genders, different sexual orientations, different religions etc... We acknowledge these differences. And yes, we should be tolerating of others. But tolerance does not mean indulgence. Tolerance does not mean accepting and approving immoral ways of life and false beliefs. Tolerance calls to be patiently waiting for people to come to their understanding of the truth. As Christians in the world, we are commissioned to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ among these diversities. Many people are saying, “We should tolerate others and respect their differences. Therefore, we should not impose our religious beliefs on others. It is not nice to impose our moral views on others.” I am sorry; Jesus is not telling us to go into the world and being nice to everyone by telling them that it is OK to have abortions. He is not telling us to go into the world and being nice to the world by telling others that it is OK to change the meaning and the definition of marriage. He is not telling us to go into the world to be nice to people by telling them that “it is OK to have same sex marriage. And same sex marriage is equal to traditional marriage between a man and a woman. Jesus is not sending us to go into the world to be nice by promoting a mandate to provide contraceptives to anyone who wants it. Jesus is not telling us to go into the world to be nice to others by telling them, “Yes, we respect their religions; we respect their gods; we respect their personal moral views etc.” No Jesus is telling us to “go into the world and proclaim His Gospel.” He is not telling to go into the world to proclaim freedom of expression, freedom of exchange of ideas, or freedom of any kind but freedome to the absolute truth. The absolute truth is Jesus Christ and his gospel. He is sending the Church, you and me, into the world to proclaim that there is One True God. God’s son died for us on the cross. We are to proclaim that Jesus’ dead and resurrection, his ascension into heaven give us hope to be with him and with his Father in eternity. Jesus clearly defines the conditions to be saved through his commission: Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned." There is no other way.
You and I have been chosen to take part in this mission to save the world. We are living between the time of his departure and the time of his return. We can share in his exultation in heaven, if we do what he has commanded us to do. Others will be allowed to share in His exultation if we proclaim the Gospel to them. We are to go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel. There is no exception here. We are not chosen just to be “a nice guy” the way the world wants us to be. There is only One True God. So we cannot just act as if there are many other true gods. There is only one Savior, Jesus Christ; and salvation can only come from Him. There is only way to heaven that is Jesus’ way. Those who believe in Jesus Christ will be saved. Those who don’t want to believe in him will not be saved. There is no other way around. It seems nice to say, “I respect your religion. I respect your God. I respect your belief. I respect your way of life. It seems nice to say if you choose to marry the people of the same sex, I am ok with that. If you want to repeal the marriage act and redefine the marriage to include same sex marriage, I am ok with that. Gay or lesbian people are entitled to be married to their lovers like any other man and woman. It might be nice to the world to say those things, but it is untruthful and irresponsible to say that. We don’t want to risk losing any soul. We don’t want to mislead anyone from the Kingdom of God. Jesus is not telling us to go into the whole world to conform or compromise to their way of life. He is telling us to go into the whole world to proclaim the Gospel. The Gospel is the life, the death and the resurrection of Jesus. Only Jesus Christ, his teachings and his way of life will lead people to heaven.
As members of the Catholic Church, you and I are commissioned to proclaim the Good News of salvation to the world. You and I are the sacraments of God’s presence and God’s power in the world. You and I are God’s agents to present Jesus ‘gift of salvation to others in the world.