Saturday before the Nativity of Christ; The Ten Holy Martyrs of Crete (249-51)
Nativity Fast. Day of fast.
Galatians 3:8-12; Luke 13:18-29
Glory be to Jesus Christ!
Who can be saved? This question has been at the centre of the Christian faith from the beginning. From the earliest days of the Church in Jerusalem it has been a question that has led to its fair share of controversy. The early Church grappled with the question of whether those who were not Jews could be members of the Church and gain salvation in Jesus Christ, i.e. the Greeks and proselytes mentioned in the Book of Acts and whom the Holy Apostle Paul and others among the apostles led to Christ. Later the question arose in the context of those Christians who had apostatized and rejected the faith in the face of Roman persecution, could they return to the Church and be saved? During the Protestant reformations of the 16th century Martin Luther, John Calvin, Menno Simons, and other protestant leaders broke with the Roman Catholic Church and entered into heresy over this question of salvation and other issues such as the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. In our modern day when we seek to engage with other religions in a spirit of dialogue some have posed this question: can people who profess other faiths be saved? Many theologians have explored this issue, including Pope Benedict XVI in his helpful book Truth and Tolerance: Christian Belief and World Religions.
As Catholics, we confess with our fellow Christians that salvation comes through Jesus Christ, One in the Holy Trinity, and through Him alone. Furthermore, as Catholics we confess that it is only fully through the Church as the baptized that we encounter Christ and his plan of salvation, especially in the Word of Holy Scripture, through Holy Tradition, and in a particular way through the Holy Mysteries which themselves are salvific. Since we confess that truth is not a what, the product of some abstract philosophy, but is rather a who, the Incarnate Son of God, Jesus Christ, we are able to discern the meaning of today’s Gospel passage. The Holy Apostle and Evangelist Luke records Our Lord’s admonition that we must “strive to enter through the narrow door” and that those saved will be few. For us, we have confidence and hope in our faith that our striving through prayer, through regular reception of the Holy Eucharist and participation in the Holy Mystery of Repentance, through active participation in the life of the Church, and through manifesting our care and love for others through our acts of charity may lead us through that narrow door. Our Lord is the key. Yet, we stumble and fall into sin and at times fear for our salvation. Let us at these times strive anew, as Our Lord directs us, and persevere in the spiritual life and in our active lives earnestly desiring our salvation so that we too might “recline at table in the Kingdom of God.”