Everyone who believes in him
will receive forgiveness of sins through his name.
Just yesterday, I watched something that led me to refresh my memory on the Church’s teachings on salvation. Here’s what I found:
Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and Baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through Baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it (Lumen Gentium, 14 from the documents of Vatican II).
This affirmation is not aimed at those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and his Church: “Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience – those too may achieve eternal salvation” ( Lumen Gentium, 16).
“Although in ways known to himself, God can lead those, who, through no fault of their own, are ignorant of the Gospel, to that faith without which it is impossible to please him, the Church still has the obligation and also the sacred right to evangelize all men” ( Ad Gentes, 7, another document from Vatican II).
What about our fellow Christians who are part of other denominations? I need to believe that they may be saved as well. Many protestants that I personally know have a firm, unshakeable faith in Jesus and a deep love for Him as Savior. They absolutely believe as scripture says today, “Everyone who believes in him will receive forgiveness of sins through his name.” I think of it this way. If I had been born into a Presbyterian family, I would probably be Presbyterian. I feel very blessed to be Catholic.
If you are reading this and are not Catholic, you may be thinking, Jesus did not start the Catholic Church… There is no mention of the term, “Catholic” in the bible. In the New Testament, the early Church was called simply “The Church.” The word “Catholic” (meaning “universal”) was not used until around the year 130 AD by Ignatius of Antioch in his farewell letter to Smyrna. This Church that he referred to as universal is, in fact, the one that Jesus founded. We were once all ONE.
It would be so wonderful to be united as one again!
This man God raised on the third day and granted that he be visible,
not to all the people, but to us,
the witnesses chosen by God in advance…
So… Jesus was not visible to all, but to only those chosen by God in advance. I find it fascinating that in the accounts we will read about in the days to come, we learn that again and again, people did not recognize the resurrected Jesus until He called them by name. How did He look so different? Or were the people just “blind” to the truth until Jesus spoke their names? How did the speaking of a name open their eyes? How does Jesus call our names now? Do we recognize Him when He does this? How do we respond?
Think of what is above, not of what is on earth.
For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
When Christ your life appears,
then you too will appear with him in glory.
It is surely not an easy task to keep our minds of the things of heaven when we are trekking through the muck down here. It really is the key to peace and joy, however. When we are going through our struggles here, they often seem as though they will go on forever. Time seems to come to a crawl. When we look at the big picture though – that we will live on in heaven (or hell) FOREVER, whatever we go through here will be but a blip on the radar screen. A blip. A miniscule period of time.
He went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there,
and the cloth that had covered his head,
not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place.
I find it fascinating that John, the gospel writer, takes care to note a little extra information here – that Jesus’ head covering was rolled up in a separate place from the rest of the burial clothes. I can just picture Jesus resurrecting – a flash of bright light as the life re-enters His body – the radiation from the flash of light so bright that it burns Jesus’ image on the burial cloth. Hmmm. The Shroud of Turin (thought to be the burial cloth of Christ) is in one large rectangular piece). Could this head wrapping been a separate piece that went over the Shroud – if indeed it is the burial cloth of Christ? Can you imaging Jesus coming back to life, trying to sit up, but being confined by the wrappings? Can you picture Him calmly unrolling the linen encasing his head, rolling it up and then setting it apart from the rest of the cloth? Can you see Him exiting the tomb as though just having awakened from a long slumber? I wonder if He hung out there for a while. Reading further in John’s gospel, we see Mary Magdalene talking to Jesus thinking that He was the gardener, before Jesus called Mary by name and her eyes of faith were opened.
What are the moments/experiences that open our eyes of faith? How can we more fully avail ourselves these experiences? Do we pray often for an increase of faith? Do we offer sacrifices for those who have no faith?