Since in the last few weeks, the Church has been looking at Salvation questions in the Gospel readings at Sunday Mass, I thought I would take a look at that issue in regards to how people look at it. It seems that over the last 40 years, many people have begun to take the attitude that salvation will come to just about everyone who believes in God. The belief in Hell seems to be only for the people like Adolph Hitler. Even many Catholics, including some very orthodox spiritual people, are adopting the attitude which says; ‘Broad is the way that leads to heaven, and almost everyone is going that way, but narrow and difficult is the way that leads to hell, and almost no one is going that way. What is troubling about this attitude is that many people are looking at this view of salvation as the gospel truth, they think it is just the way it is. But actually, it seems like just the opposite view that we get from Scripture.
Is it as easy to get to heaven as many seem to profess? Well, the Bible says something different. Jesus says in the Gospel of Matthew; “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it (Matt 7:13-14).” That doesn’t seem to suggest salvation will be easy, but that it will be difficult. If we turn to the Gospel of Luke, we see the question of salvation asked directly: “Someone asked him, ‘Lord, will only a few be saved?’ He said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able. When once the owner of the house has got up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then in reply he will say to you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’ Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’ But he will say, ‘I do not know where you come from; go away from me, all you evildoers!’ (Luke 13:23-27).”
Notice that Jesus didn’t respond by saying, “don’t worry, as long as you were a pretty good person, it won’t be hard to get in.” He stressed just the opposite. He is saying that people don’t just drift into the “Kingdom of God,” but that God’s awesome love and the awesome sacrifice of Christ on the cross has to be responded to. We must live out our faith. It’s not just a one time thing, where we say the sinners prayer and claim him as our Lord and Savior and think we’ve made it. There has to be a yes to God’s mercy; there has to be a yes to God’s love, in order for that love and mercy to really become effective in our life towards salvation.
Many people believe that if someone is considered a pretty good person in life, even if they didn’t commit to Christ as we are all called to do, then they stand a good chance to make it to heaven. But, the problem with that is there is a whole list of things that exclude people from the Kingdom of God, unless they repent. St. Paul tells us in his first letter to the Corinthians: “Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, sodomites, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers—none of these will inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor 6:9-10).” We see here that even in the early Church there is a whole lot of deception going on. We see similar texts of Scripture concerning this in Ephesians 5:3-6 and Revelations 22:8-15. Paul also states in Galatians; “Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God (Gal 5:19-21).”
It seems that Sacred Scripture is not fully embraced by some, especially with regards to how narrow the gate is which leads to salvation. But if we look to what the Catholic Church teaches about Sacred Scripture, we might find the key to unlock the confusion. From Vatican Council II it says; “…Therefore, since everything asserted by the inspired authors or sacred writers must be held to be asserted by the Holy Spirit, it follows that the books of Scripture must be acknowledged as teaching solidly, faithfully and without error that truth which God wanted put into sacred writings for the sake of salvation…(DEI VERBUM ch. 3:11)” So, we are talking about the authoritative word of God that is mercifully showing us which way is the path to life and which way is the path to death. All we need to do is listen to the authoritative word of God and then continue to seek the narrow path.
Let’s you and I continue to pray not only for ourselves, but for everyone we know, that we will seek the Lord and His Truth with all our heart. And let us also remember that scripture tells us that only God can judge the heart of man. St. Paul tells us; “Think of us in this way, as servants of Christ and stewards of God’s mysteries. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. I do not even judge myself. I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive commendation from God (1Cor 4:1-6).”
Until next time, God bless.