There’s nothing like good conversation to refocus the mind and the heart. Yesterday I had one such conversation which focussed me again on what is real.
A couple of hours after my friend and I were chatting Pope Francis on the other side of the world gave his weekly address to the crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the Sunday midday Angelus. It was as if he had been listening in on and getting ideas from our dinner conversation and he quickly got to the heart of the matter:
“We are called to know Jesus. This implies an encounter with Him, an encounter that arouses the desire to follow Him, abandoning self-referential attitudes to set out on new roads, indicated by Christ Himself and opened on vast horizons. When the desire cools down in our communities to live the relationship with Jesus, to listen to His voice and to follow Him faithfully, it’s inevitable that other ways of thinking and living will prevail, which aren’t coherent with the Gospel.”
In yesterday’s first reading from the Acts of the Apostles St. Peter put it unequivocally,
“There is no salvation through anyone else,
nor is there any other name under heaven
given to the human race by which we are to be saved.”
Bishop Robert Barron in his Word on Fire reflection for yesterday explains that while this sounds very exclusive (flying in the face of today’s emphasis on inclusivity and saying that Jesus is the only way to salvation), the experience of our faith is that Jesus, the Son of God, is the one who speaks and acts in the person of God, This is the claim of Christianity, that there is no other name by which we are saved.
The fulness of Salvation that God wants to offer to His people is available through Jesus Christ alone. Many other people and pathways might offer elements, dimensions or features of the fulness which is found in Christ. Vatican II speaks of the rays of light or dimensions of truth which are available in Judaism, Islam, Buddhism and in the lives of people who in good will follow their conscience.
This fact of faith is summarised powerfully in one of my favourite scripture passages which is the last verse of today’s gospel reading. This wonderful verse directly from the mouth of Jesus sums up what Peter was preaching, what Pope Francis was sharing, and what my friend and I were speaking about yesterday:
“I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” John 10:10