The Young Man at the Tomb Holding Fast to Each Other Amen to What We Are The Lord, Our Justice Claiming Our True Name What We Expect The Comma Keeping the Demons Quiet The Dove in the Heavens Thankfulness and Generosity Speaking to Jesus A Promise to Simeon and Us A Sign for You The Voice in the Wilderness How Annunciations Work The Least, the Lost, and the Last Waiting for Christ’s Return Attire for the Kingdom The Cross in a Violent World Come to the Banquet Today Anointing of the Sick Finding the Eternal Change and Continuity Paying Attention The First and the Last Using Bad Consequences How to Talk to God Ready to Forgive Facing the Serpent Priority and Mutuality Three Meals a Day Searching for Pearls The Power of Service Why Walk on Water? The Day Jesus Was Wrong The Promise of the New Name The Two Feet of Love Facing the Hour Looking Backwards Touching the Leper Touching the Leper Misunderstanding God Doing It Poorly God’s Midwife A Name for the Holy Spirit The Coffin So We Do Not Have to Touch Being Better to Each Other Earthquakes and Galilee Lazarus as a Disciple Seeing More Learning from Peter Imitating God’s Holiness Weekly Bulletin 3/2/14 Imitating God’s Holiness Weekly Bulletin 3/9/14 Choosing a Master Goodness in Temptation A Pinch of Salt Teaching the Commandments The Freedom of the Baptist Christ’s Broken Body Faith Is More than Looking The Twelve Days of Christmas God’s Timing Resurrection and Transformation The Good That Is Gone Zacchaeus Moments God in the Smallest Things Trust and Community When God’s Commands Do Not Fit The Faith of Honeybees Choosing Hell Following the Dishonest Steward The Ninety-Nine The Freedom to Let Go Beyond Politics The Balance of Humility Not Fearing Fire The Beauty Remains To Welcome as a Samaritan A Moveable Peace Bring On the Women! The Two Sides of Bread Waiting for the Ticket The Groove of the Spirit Jesus Is Not Like Congress A Divine Partnership What Kind of Love Is This? Boston Bombings and God Fishing and Forgiveness A New Kind of Joy Letting Christ Out The Sign of Inversion Our Doodling God A Parable of Love and Jealousy Not Enough Time The Ordinary and the Transcendent The Battle with the Devil God Is Not Kidding The Power of Love We Are the Body of Christ The Arc of Life Waiting for the Final Gift Displacement at Christmas Incarnating God Presenting the Mess Red Cake and Lima Beans A Call to Serve Beyond Asking Jesus’ Commandment Being Ready to Take God in the Foxhole God Is Still Working Adjusting What Is Necessary Learning from the Prophet Amos About Jesus’ Brothers The Most Popular Miracle The Importance of Hunger Eternal Life Influencing Others Finding the Right Proportion Do What You Love Stopping for the Least To Love Irritating People Marriage, Divorce, and Children Asking for More Drinking the Cup Terror in Paris God Will Come Boundaries, Security, and Generosity Feeling Movements of Life A Place to Learn God Uses Small Things Signs of Life When God Says No Christian Optimism From Transition to Call The Long Struggle The Gate of Heaven Common Sense or Hope The Spoiled Son An Oasis for Everyone Jesus’ Last Meal The Curious Omission Finding a Pony Anointing of the Sick A New Commandment After the Ascension Sin and Love The Cross and Joy The Call to Follow A Call for Humility Violence in America Two Thoughts on Prayer Live Today with Thanksgiving An Examined Life The Narrow Gate Serving Ourselves Losing Sheep Using Dishonest Wealth The Door and the Chasm Faith and Duty Distance and More Not Growing Weary Making a Difference Inadequacies and Grace Finding God Facing Turmoil Jesus, Remember Me The Lion and the Lamb Wild Like John Let Go in Love A Wider Christmas The Last Six Miles God’s Big Plan The Remnant The Salt of the Earth Beyond the Ten Commandments Love Your Enemy Focusing Our Worry How Evil Works Our Transfiguration Re-membering Our Lives Our Story If Only The Time for Hope A Second Greeting of Peace The Eucharist and Welcoming Practicing Non-Violence The Work of Forgiveness Why Are You Looking Up at the Sky? The Mystery of Salvation Being Thankful How Is a Burden Light? The Problem with Sparrows Eternal Creation Patient Vigilance Buried Treasure Thinking Again Where You Do Not Want to Go The Courage to Speak Humility and Truth Do Something Good Knowing the Song Acting Against Evil God Will Come What We Can Say Senseless Violence Invitation as a Threat What Belongs to God Two Commands, Side by Side Burdens We May Not See Foolish or Wise Accepting the Consequences Serving the Least Watching for Jesus Camels and Gnats Becoming Smaller The Christmas Barber The Ring of the Kings The Freedom and Faith of John the Baptist Zebedee The Opioid Crisis Approaching, Grasping, Lifting Up What God Intends The Battle with Satan Following Elijah and Moses Standing in Truth A God of Love or Condemnation When Life Turns Not Fully Prepared The Wounds We Carry Selling Onions Son of Encouragement To Love as God Loves Engagement with the World Doubting Disciples Sabbath Avoiding the Diabolical Persistent Hope Speaking the Word Within Us “And Also With You” Capital Punishment I Will Go On Three Wise Choices Will You Also Leave? Show No Partiality Carrying the Cross for Whom? Outside the Lines The Camel and the Needle Ask First for Sight What God Sees Only God The Arc of the Universe Turmoil, Fear, and Dismay The Gift of the Desert A Punch for the Holidays Politics and Religion Jesus Always Understands One Body God’s Love The Call Blessings and Woes Imitating God’s Mercy The Blind Leading the Blind The Devil’s Agenda Looking Closer, Looking Beyond Accepting God’s Love Mob Thinking

The Mystery of Salvation

June 11, 2017 Click on the left end of the black bar to play/pause

June 11, 2017
John 3:16-18
Fr. George Smiga

Today’s gospel begins with love and ends with judgment. We are all attracted to the love: “God so loved the world that He gave his only son, that whoever believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” This is the gospel, the good news. God loved us so much that he saved us in Christ. But the judgment that takes place at the end of the passage is more difficult to swallow: “Whoever does not believe is already condemned for not believing in the name of the only Son of God.”

What this passage seems to be saying is that God loved us so much that he gave us Jesus. But if we do not accept Jesus, God does not love us anymore. In fact, this is very close to the interpretation that many Evangelical Christians make of this passage. They believe that the only way to God is through Jesus and anyone who does not accept Jesus as the Lord of his or her life cannot be saved. I think this would be troubling to many of us here today. It means that the kind Jewish couple who lives next door, who are the best of neighbors, who water our plants when we go on vacation, are going to hell. It means that the kind Moslem doctor who always takes a little bit of extra time with grandma when she comes in for her appointment and, even when she is in pain, finds a way to make her smile is excluded from God’s love.

Most of the people in the world are not Christian. Yet, they love their families, serve their communities, and many work for peace. Are we required to believe that these people who do not believe in Jesus will never find eternal life? Catholic theology says that we are not. Our Catholic tradition has always believed that people of good will, who try to do what is right, even if they do not accept Jesus, are still loved by God and are still saved by God. At the same time, Catholic theology assumes that Jesus is the way to salvation, the only way to salvation, and that we, as followers of Christ, should spread the word so that others might believe in him. Yet if people do not accept our message, we still claim that it is still possible for God to save them.

Evangelical Christians call foul. They say you cannot have it both ways. If Jesus is the only way to salvation, then Jesus is the only way to salvation. Those who do not believe in Jesus are out. Their argument is not without its logic. How, then, can we respond to it? I would suggest to you that today’s Feast of the Trinity is helpful.

At the heart of our faith, we believe in one God who is three divine persons: Father, Son, and Spirit. How can God be one and three at the same time? We do not know. We cannot explain it. We say that it is a mystery, that God is greater than us and different from us. We understand that we cannot understand the very being of God, and yet, we believe. I would suggest to you that we can move some of this mystery into our understanding of salvation. Jesus is the only way to the Father, a unique gift given to us. Yet we also know that the gift of Jesus cannot exhaust who God is or how God loves. God is greater than us and different from us. So we should never use the gift of Jesus to claim that a Jew, a Moslem, a Hindu, or an atheist is not loved by God and cannot be saved by God.

God is both one and three. How can God be both? We do not know, but we believe. Jesus is both the only way to salvation and those who do not believe in Jesus can still be saved. How can these two things be possible? We do not know. But again, it is something that we believe is true.

Change this in Theme Options
Change this in Theme Options