Thoughts on the Gospel Reading for Today

A few years ago, when I started thinking seriously about salvation, I was struck by how very Catholic my beliefs are. Like all Christians, I believe Christ’s cruxifiction makes salvation possible.

I’m not a Universalist: I don’t believe that just because Christ died for our sins that all of humanity, no matter our beliefs or behavior, will be granted eternal life. I’m not a Calvinist: I don’t believe that only a select few are predestined to be saved and that the rest of us are out of luck no matter what we believe. I’m not an Evangelical Christian: I don’t believe that once we accept Christ as our personal savior we have “perfect assurance” of our salvation.

I am Catholic because I believe Christ died for our sins and I believe we have to cooperate with His grace in order to have the possibility of eternal life.

Here is what Our Lord says about salvation in Sunday’s reading from Saint Luke:  

Jesus passed through towns and villages,
teaching as he went and making his way to Jerusalem.
Someone asked him,
“Lord, will only a few people be saved?”
He answered them,
“Strive to enter through the narrow gate,
for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter
but will not be strong enough.
After the master of the house has arisen and locked the door,
then will you stand outside knocking and saying,
‘Lord, open the door for us.’
He will say to you in reply,
‘I do not know where you are from.
And you will say,
‘We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets.’
Then he will say to you,
‘I do not know where you are from.
Depart from me, all you evildoers!’
And there will be wailing and grinding of teeth
when you see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
and all the prophets in the kingdom of God
and you yourselves cast out.
And people will come from the east and the west
and from the north and the south
and will recline at table in the kingdom of God.
For behold, some are last who will be first,
and some are first who will be last.

Mark Shea, a convert to Catholicism from Evangelical Protestantism, explains my understanding of salvation better than I can: “Salvation is, then, a living relationship with God. It is created and sustained by grace, born in faith, grows in love and bears fruit in glory. It not only forgives us, it changes us by our cooperation with grace. It makes us, in the words of St. Peter, ‘participants in the divine nature,’ not just forgiven sinners. Heady stuff, to be sure. But nobody ever said God is safe, only good.” I would not presume to say I’ve been saved. But I know Christ has redeemed me. Faith is not a one-time event; it’s a journey,

  • Ruth Ann

    Today I read else where that "salvation is union with Christ," and that meshes with what Mark Shea says about it's being "a living relationship with God." We are, indeed, on a journey, and I'm happy having companions like you, Webster, and Frank.

  • Allison

    @Ruth Ann: Awww. Thank you! It's good to hear from you and thanks for your insights. Blessings, Allison

  • Frank

    Ruth Ann, We are grateful for readers like you too! And for the companionship and camaraderie that we all share here on the good ship YIM Catholic!

  • Michael (NZ)

    Very interesting article and a very good inclusion of Mark Shea's comments. The "Salvation Issue" is one I have grappled with for a long time – especially when told that outside the (Catholic) church there is no salvation (CCC846). I was happy to find CCC 604 and especially CCC 605 where it says, and I quote "At the end of the parable of the lost sheep Jesus recalled that God's love excludes no one…The Church, following the apostles, teaches that Christ died for all men without exception…"And I agree entirely with your points, Allison, that it is the crucifixion, which makes salvation possible IF we choose to avail ourselves of His grace. For me it was and still is, a "journey in faith" – and a matter of building a "living relationship" with God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit – and I always include our Heavenly Mother Mary. A comment on something totally different: As I continue my studies of the Catholic faith, I have, over the last year or so, read many different Catholic blogs. Yours is the one I still enjoy the most. I suppose it is the wealth of information that is being presented in a very personable (?) way that gives this blog “magnetic Catholic warmth”. Pax Christi.

  • Allison

    Michael (NZ): Good to hear from you. For me when I really analyzed it, the Catholic understanding of salvation is one that is just in my bones so to speak. I was raised Catholic and it would be impossible for me to adopt a different theory of salvation. That, plus the Eucharist, keeps me Catholic.Thank you for your kind words on the blog. It's really a blessing to be able to share my thoughts. I think one of the strengths of the blogs is that Frank, Webster and I all have very different personalities, life experiences etc. And yet we share the same beliefs. It keeps things lively.