Sometimes I post the following words, or some version of them, on my Facebook status.
Today’s Gospel was short and to the point: Mark 9: 38-40, the Gospel account of Christ’s disciples trying to stop a man from outside their group from doing good.
Pope Francis gave a good homily about it. The Vatican radio website has a report on what the Holy Father said. Here are some highlights that resonated with me.
- … “the Lord has created us in His image and likeness, and has given us this commandment in the depths of our heart: do good and do not do evil”
- … “we all have a duty to do good. And this commandment for everyone to do good … is a beautiful path towards peace.”
- … “this ‘closing off’ that imagines that those outside … cannot do good is a wall that leads to war and also to what some people throughout history have conceived of: killing in the name of God. That we can kill in the name of God. And that, simply, is blasphemy. To say that you can kill in the name of God is blasphemy.”
Our good fortune of being Catholic is not an excuse for arrogance toward others who believe differently. Let’s work together for the good.
I understood Pope Francis’ homily in the light of my understanding of the teachings of the Catholic faith. However, the Holy Father’s words from his homily were taken out of context. Some publications interpreted his words as meaning “good atheists” will go to heaven.
Catholic teaching says Christ redeemed everyone, but that does not mean that everyone will be saved. I read an excellent explanation of Church teaching on this subject by Brandon Vogt at a new website, here. This quotation summarizes Catholic teaching:
Catholics believe Jesus Christ died for every human being without exception. This redemption has nothing to do with our goodness, and everything to do with God’s overwhelming generosity. Redemption is universal, salvation is not. Redemption is a proposal we must accept and salvation is the result.