More from the “No Good Deed Goes Unpunished” Dept.
For thinking the good Abe Z. is in heaven, I’m now likened to a white supremacist. The fun never stops.
In an attempt to be ultra clear, I’m not saying Abe was a Christian. He lived and died a pious “simple Jew” in his own words. I hope (and think) that Abe is an extremely likely candidate for the beatific vision. I could be wrong. Some of my fellow Christians seem to hope that he was damned for the culpable sin of not being a Christian. I should think this would be a more troubling thought. For myself, however, I have hope that he enjoys the vision of God for all eternity with all the righteous. However (and Joe Katzman pointed this out) in the Catholic Tradition, at the end of the day, there is only one way a member of the species homo sapiens–Jew, Greek, American, or what have you–comes into that vision: through Christ, since the entire foundation of our faith is that He is none other than the God of Israel Abe worshiped.
So, as a Catholic, I have a choice. I can arrogantly presume that Abe was damned by a real, clear-sighted hatred of the God of Israel who is, for us Catholics, Christ (which I simply can’t believe is the case, given his obvious holiness) or I can hope that Abe, through his obvious love of the God of Israel (whom we Catholics believe to be Christ) arrived in heaven, rubbed his eyes in surprise, and was welcomed as the noble son of Israel he so obviously was. Joe is simply right. My faith does not permit me to see the situation in any other way. My observing this compels no Jew to renounce his or her convictions. Indeed, like Mother Teresa and C.S. Lewis it permits me to believe that those who are close to the heart of their religious tradition are always drawing close to the heart of the Lord whom I worship. It is a strange thing to be more condemned for hoping Abe is in heaven than for hoping he is in hell.