Here is a experiment, Reader-land. If you know your faith is true, what are you doing about it?
I follow a guy who has cancer, and today he announced that no treatments will help, so like me, he’s getting prepared for the rest of his life. I know this man is Christian, but that is all, and he and I share a terminal prognosis, and we both are accepting it.
While I have received confession, Anointing of the Sick, and the apostolic blessing last week, I don’t know what he’s done. And the peace I have, it’s troubled by that thought. I firmly believe, with all my heart, the tenets of the Catholic Faith. So, I have a reasonable hope that I will be saved. But what about everyone else?
This should make you uncomfortable! I profess the fullness of the Truth of Jesus Christ and God’s revelation to the world. That means that other faiths, denominations, etc, don’t have the fullness of Truth! That means we don’t know if they have a reasonable hope. Dare we hope? Yes, there is the possibility that our understanding is not God’s. However, there is a divine line that outside of is no salvation. This should be making you squirm in your seat!
Do you have friends who you think might be outside that line? Have you talked with them? Are you living like there’s more to life than this world? I can tell you that I didn’t live that way. What is a Christian to do when confronted with, “Outside of the Church there is no salvation.” I mean boom, it’s right there, we should all be freaking out!
As Augustine wisely remarked: “How many sheep there are without, how many wolves within!” (Homilies on John, 45, 12), meaning that not everyone in the church is guaranteed salvation, nor is everyone not officially in the church damned. We can’t know. So, do we throw our hands up and say “if we can’t know there is no use worrying about it!”!?
Well, no. We were given the Great Commission. God said to go out to the whole world to be his witnesses. Luke wrote it twice!
Now, I point to Vatican ii. And the haters will jump at me because all the evil in the church, ever, comes from Vatican ii, but it gave hope and a deeper understanding of the mystery of salvation. Lumen Gentium is worth a read, if the haters can stomach it. And it doesn’t let us off the hook either.
So, how am I witnessing? If someone came up to me, or you, would they be a witness to our witness to the Gospel? See, now I am back to squirming, because I know for a fact that I have not. How many were not witnesses because I failed to be faithful? I’m not talking about being preachy, I’m talking about the visible difference that was enough to kill thousands and thousands of Christians in Rome. Remember how I talked about the letter to Diognetus?
Being preachy nowadays will close everyone’s ears, so we have to live our witness instead of speaking it.
I don’t know if you notice but the early church is the equivalent time period we are in. The mass will be said in secret, and the temporal glory will be taken away. The witness we are called to make isn’t how big your church is, or how much money your diocese gets from you, but if you lived your life in a way that people who didn’t know noticed something different about you than everyone else.
I have a controversial statement. Sacrosanctum Concilium was written to reform the liturgy. I bet the Holy Spirit knew that we would need a liturgy closer to the catacombs!
This isn’t a fun topic, but think to yourself, do you want you or your friends to suffer eternal hellfire because you didn’t want to bring up a not fun topic?
Are you willing to wager salvation, theirs and ours, up for that bet?