There are no tricky shortcuts to salvation.

Saturday, 7/26/14

Jeremiah in the first reading spoke against one of the shortcuts people take rather than lead genuine religious lives. He said you can be saved “only if you reform your ways and your deeds.”

Specifically, Jeremiah was speaking against one religious shortcut that had become popular in his time. People, while giving up on spending prayer time in the temple, had come to trust in the value of knocking on the temple gates. The practice had them knocking three times while saying, “The temple of the Lord.  The temple of the Lord. The temple of the Lord.”

From time to time we Catholics come up with shortcuts to salvation. The first one I can think of is receiving Holy Communion on nine consecutive First Fridays. (That is a fine practice, but it does not guarantee our salvation.) I heard about a gangster who was assured he’d go to heaven if he never took off his Green Scapular. Things didn’t look good for him when he died after his surgeon took off his scapular.

Yesterday, the Feast of St. James, had thousands of people visiting his tomb in Basque country, assured that being there on the Feast of James would get them into heaven.

No, Jeremiah tells us that the trick of being saved is to reform our ways, to deal justly with our neighbors, and to be kindly toward aliens.  

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