Who will be saved?
GOD’S WORD TODAY - Manoling Francisco, S.J. (The Philippine Star) - August 21, 2016 - 12:00am

“Lord, will only a few people be saved?” We can begin to answer the question of salvation from an intra-church perspective. Among baptized Christians, who will be saved? What does it take to be saved? We can interpret Jesus’ words “only those who go through the narrow gate” to mean, doctrinally, that only those who profess faith in Jesus will be saved. Ethically, only those who remain faithful to the commandment of Jesus to love God and others will be saved, as proclaimed in the Last Judgment account of Matthew. “Come … inherit the kingdom… for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink….” (Mt. 25:34-35). Others stress that sacramentally, the reception of sacramental absolution for one’s sins before the moment of death is absolutely necessary for salvation. Even among Christians, we have a plurality of responses, which need not be mutually exclusive.

But we can also answer the question of salvation from a wider perspective that includes non-Christians. Again, we have a multiplicity of responses. Some Christians claim that non-Christians cannot be offered the possibility of salvation unless they profess faith in Jesus and are baptized into the Church. Other Christians maintain that while Jesus Christ is the sole savior of humanity, even non-Christians are offered the possibility of salvation in and through Jesus Christ the one source of grace who as Word is present in everyone and everywhere. This position maintains that non-Christians can be saved by following the dictates of their conscience, by witnessing to goodness and justice and charity, which manifest the presence of the Word and Spirit within them. Still others consider the possibility that Jesus Christ may be the savior of Christians, albeit for Christians alone, while the Absolute God may be saving non-Christians in and through their respective religions and ways of life.

The Roman Catholic Church rejects the first and third perspectives – the exclusivist view that only those baptized into the Church are offered the possibility of salvation and the third position that relatives the unique and universal saving role of Jesus.

Yet another approach to the question of salvation is to consider its relevance to our existence in the world today. In other words, one can consider the meaning of salvation not only as a transhistorical event, but also as an in-this-world experience. How is Jesus saving us here and now?

The Gospels proclaim a continuity of the saving work of Jesus in this life and the life to come. Here and now the blind recover their sight, the lame are able to walk, the possessed are liberated from demons, the outcast is reintegrated into one’s community, the repentant sinner is forgiven. Here and now Jesus proclaims that these wonderful reversals “are fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:21).

Thus salvation is a multi-dimensional mystery. It is personal but also social. It is a Christian concern, but concerns all humankind. It is anthropomorphic; that is, it involves the human race, but is also cosmic. It is psychological and spiritual, on one hand; it also has economic and political ramifications, on the other. It is God’s offer and action but also requires human cooperation. It is a this-world experience as well as a beyond-this-world promise.

Today we continue to combat poverty, unemployment, terrorism and the drug menace. We continue to grapple with the division of our families, inequality in society, degradation of the environment. We experience illness and death, devastation due to calamities and climate change. We ask the Lord to redeem us. This weekend it will be good to reflect on how the Lord is saving us here and now, how the Lord has intervened in our lives, redeeming us from illness and suffering, from oppression and addiction, from isolation and communal fragmentation, from hopelessness and despair, and in the end bringing us to a fuller life with others and the Lord.

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