In his recent communication, ‘Rejoice and Be Glad’, Pope Francis gently touches on this important question: who will be saved? It is a thorny issue for, on the one hand, we want to acknowledge the centrality of the person of Jesus Christ, and the fact that it is only in him that salvation resides. And yet, on the other hand, the role of the Church (and each one of us in it) includes recognising and celebrating the ways in which God is clearly at work in the many people whose lives reveal they are very close to God – whether they experience themselves as ‘belonging’ or not.
It comes down to recognising the heart of the Good News that Jesus Christ lived to proclaim. If you understand him to be saying that salvation is for a select few (and there are plenty of scriptural references that can be interpreted that way) then you are in good company. Many have this understanding. But it does raise the question: what’s good news about that?
On the other hand, if you understand him to be saying that God is at work calling all people to himself (and there are plenty of scriptural references to that effect) then the Good News is that all are welcome, and God is to be found anywhere there is truth, goodness and beauty. Many people may not know of the saving life, death and resurrection of Jesus, but their lives reveal that they participate in the life of God anyway.
This raises the question: what does it mean for us to live by and proclaim the truth that we know (salvation in Jesus Christ), while also recognising the ways in which truth is manifest elsewhere and by people who don't believe the things that we do?
I am sorry for putting up a question without providing a definitive solution. However, sometimes it is important that we wrestle first with the question before jumping too quickly to what we might consider to be the answer.
Tips for your faith journey
On a related matter: does a commitment to living the life of faith mean that we are meant to be living our faith in the same way? This question lies behind numbers 10 & 11 of ‘Rejoice and Be Glad’. Referencing the teaching of the great St John of the Cross, Pope Francis reminds us that each of us has within our grasp the life of holiness, no matter the state of life into which we have been called. Holiness is not reserved for a particular group of people. The life of holiness (by which we mean union with God in every aspect of our lives) is like any other journey: you can get to where you're going from here. Just take the next step.
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This article is part of Faith Journey, a newsletter from the National Centre for Evangelisation.