UpFront with Mary Hendricks, 08/07/2016

19th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

August 7, 2016

Luke 12:32-48

 

Jesus closes today’s reading with: “Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.”

Every month, the Lewis County Christian Alliance meets at a different church in the area. As secretary-treasurer, I represent the Catholic contingent and spend a couple of hours with pastors and associates from the Baptist, Methodist, Church of God, Episcopalian, and evangelical communities.

It’s as much a support group as a “do-gooder” organization where we believe that what we share in Jesus Christ is greater than our differences. We encourage one another, knowing that we can achieve more together than separately.

An interesting discussion came up last month when one pastor said he was concerned about salvation for people who were not baptized. He quoted Jesus in John 14:6: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” “What about the religions that don’t recognize Jesus? The people who have never heard about Jesus? What about the people who are not baptized? All of those people are condemned to hell.” Many in the group nodded in agreement.

Another pastor said his church believed that God, in his infinite mercy, would judge differently when the unbaptized stood before him. There wasn’t an argument; it was a “Let’s agree to disagree” moment. But I don’t think anyone changed his mind. I piped in: “What did you think about the Pope’s statement that even atheists may go to heaven?” Dead silence. Ooooookay! Let’s have lunch!

About a week later, a friend who had been at the meeting asked what I thought of the conversation. “Well,” I began, “We know that God is a merciful God. His mercy is way beyond our understanding because we judge subjectively. I believe he will judge each person individually, knowing things we can never know. Now, here’s what the Catholic Church teaches: Jesus died for all of us and wants everyone to be saved. There are people who don’t know about Jesus through no fault of their own. Some people have been poisoned by their culture or their families against Christianity, so they have a messed up view, and that’s not their fault, either. If they sincerely seek God, try to do his will, and live a good life, God will judge them mercifully. It’s not for us to decide who goes to heaven and who doesn’t.”

Then I threw in the kicker. “And besides, if there are people who don’t know about Jesus, it’s our fault. We’re the ones he told to ‘go, teach all nations,’ and if we’re not doing that, who’s going to get judged more harshly? We will.”

We have been given much, so more is demanded of us. When we stand in judgment before God, he will ask if we followed through with that “Go, teach all nations” thing. Will we be able to answer that we did our best? Better be.

If we didn’t, maybe it’s because we didn’t know how to carry out that important directive. Oh, you’re going to be so happy to know that the GIFT program will concentrate on discipleship this year. You are happy about that, right? I knew it!

Each month we will examine how to be a better disciple and get practical suggestions on being witnesses of the love of Jesus to others. Are you willing to join us for one of the sessions?

 

04
Aug
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