The Way to the Kingdom of God
You may like to read the two divergent views on salvation or the way to the Kingdom of God below: one from the Catholic and the other from some Protestants.
I. Current Catholic’s view on Salvation.
Current Catholic’s view on salvation as printed in:
i) the Singapore Novena Church’s, bulletin of Nov 20, 2005:
I have a question: Can every good person go to heaven after they die, even if they haven’t been a Christian? My dad is from India and he just grew up with another religion. My mom, my sister, and me are Catholic. I am afraid that we won’t see each other again after we die.
Father Joseph Nolen, C.Ss.R replied as follows:
Put your mind at ease. A person who is not a Christian can go to heaven. I imagine we will see many more people than we think in heaven. Heaven is not just for Christians, but for everyone who loves God and responds to God’s will in his or her life.
We know that God wants all people to be saved not just Christians. Jesus began a church to help people achieve salvation. What I know as a Catholic is that God called me into the Church. It is there that I will work out my salvation. I do not know why there are some people who have never heard of Jesus or who do not have the faith to join the Church. I do know that God wants them in heaven just like God wants me in heaven.
You should pray for your dad and be a faithful Catholic. Perhaps your good example will help him become a Christian. Even if he never becomes a Christian, your prayers will help him work out his salvation without the benefit of the sacraments and a believing community. If he does what is right, God will reward him.
ii) the Singapore Holy Cross Church’s, bulletin of Jan 19, 1997: A Catholic asked, “Can you help me understand what happens to non-Christians after they die? I can’t accept that those who follow another faith, who love God and try to do His will, cannot enter into heaven. That seems so heartless and unfair.”
Father Oscar J. Lukefahr, C.M. replied as follows:
“You can entrust your loved ones to the care of Jesus, the Good Shepherd who laid His life for His sheep (see Jn 10:11) and the Saviour who died in order to gather all the scattered children of God into one family (see Jn 11:52). Our Catholic Church teaches that God’s compassionate hand is extended to all people in Jesus Christ, even those who do not know Him by name.
It is true that Jesus said, “No one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit” (Jn 3:5). Some Christians think that this passage means that anyone not baptised in water is condemned to hell. But Catholics believe that Jn 3:5 must be interpreted in the light of Jesus’ word at His Ascension: “The one who believes and is baptised will be saved; but the one who does not believe will be condemned.” (Mk 16:16) This passage implies that the condemned are those who hear the Gospel and refuse to accept it. So the Catholic Church teaches that those who learn of Christ’s Gospel and culpably reject it are rejecting eternal life. But there are many who are unbaptised through no fault of their own, and the Church believes that they can be saved.
This understanding came very early because some catechumens preparing to enter the Church were martyred before they could be baptised. The Church maintains that those who shed their blood for Christ are joined to Him by “baptism of blood.” Others desire baptism but die before they can receive it; these people have an explicit “baptism of desire.” Still others sincerely try to do what is right but have no opportunity to learn about Christ. These are said to have an implicit “baptism of desire” and the Church teaches that they too can be saved.
This teaching has its basis in Scripture. The parable of the Last Judgement, in Matthew 25, implies that some will be saved because they ministered to Christ in the poor and hungry, even though they were unaware of His presence. Anyone knowing the Gospel would be aware of this. It is common sense. We cannot expect people to follow rules they could not have known. Similarly, God would not expect people to obey the command to be baptised if they had no opportunity to learn about it. People who love and do what is right can be saved. They may not know Christ by name, but they know God, who is love; “Everyone who loves is born of God and knows God” (1 Jn 4:7).
Obviously, we should do our best to bring knowledge of Jesus Christ and of His true Church to all the world. But many people have no real opportunity to know about Christ. Perhaps they live in an area where Christ has not been proclaimed. Perhaps they were raised in another creed and have been conditioned not to question that creed. If they are in good conscience and do their best to follow God’s will as they see it, they can find salvation. This is the official teaching of the Church as explained in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (#1257-1261)
If those who have never been baptised can find salvation, then certainly those who have been baptised in other Christians communities can be saved. In the past, as the Catechism notes, divisions did not occur without sin (on both sides),but those who are born into separated Christians communities today cannot be charged with sin of separation. They can find salvation, and they are our brothers and sisters in Christ (#817-818).“
II. Some Protestants’ view on Salvation.
Is Jesus really the only way to God?
By Pastor Steve Carr (http://www.covenantkeepers.org/) (NKJV)
“As you begin to answer this question you must first explain that the opinion you are about to express will not be your own, but the words of Jesus Himself. By doing this you are allowing the person to come directly into contact with the claims of Christ. When you finish sharing the following verses, remind them that if they want to argue the point, then they must argue with Jesus, not you.
The fact stated:
Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture” (John 10:7-9).
Peter said, “Let it be known to you all, … that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, … This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’ Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:10-12).
Why is Jesus the only way to the Father?
1. Jesus is the only way to the Father because He is the only one that God promised to send to redeem us from our sin—“Seventy weeks are determined For your people and for your holy city, To finish the transgression, To make an end of sins, To make reconciliation for iniquity, To bring in everlasting righteousness, To seal up vision and prophecy, And to anoint the Most Holy. Know therefore and understand, That from the going forth of the command To restore and build Jerusalem Until Messiah the Prince, There shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; The street shall be built again, and the wall, Even in troublesome times. And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself; And the people of the prince who is to come Shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of it shall be with a flood, And till the end of the war desolations are determined. Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; But in the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, Even until the consummation, which is determined, Is poured out on the desolate.” (Dan 9:24-27).
2. Jesus is the only way to the Father because He was the only one who had the right to redeem us being a sinless man—“For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” (Heb. 4:15). God required a perfect sacrifice for sin without spot or blemish—“but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” (1 Peter 1:19).
3. Jesus is the only way to the Father because He is the only one who died and rose again from the dead, never to die again. His resurrection was proof that He had paid the price of redemption for mankind—concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.“ (Rom. 1:3-4).
Don’t apologize for God having only one way for men to approach Him. Why should a person think it strange that the one true and living God should not have just one way to come into a relationship with Him? Further explain that there are a lot of things that we do every day that can only be done one way. No one seems to argue with these. We all drive one way down the street on our own side of the road and if someone argues with that they have a head-on collision. In your physical members, your heart is made to pump blood in one direction through your body and no one questions this. Mechanically, the moving parts within machines only work one way. If you took a machine apart and tried to put it back together, its working parts would only fit together one way. If you didn’t replace these parts correctly, then this machine would not work. Therefore, share boldly the fact that, in the spiritual world, God has made Jesus the Way, the Truth, and the Life, the only means of knowing and experiencing life. This is the Gospel message that must be heralded to the entire world.
What about those who have never heard about Jesus?
This question deals with the fairness and justice of God in relation to how God will judge those who have never heard the Gospel message of Christ’s atoning death. If He is the only way to the Father, how can God judge someone fairly if that person has never heard the Gospel?
First, establish the fact that God by His very nature is incredibly fair and just in every judgment He makes. How can you be sure God is fair?
1. God is fair because He could have simply left man to perish in his sin. However, He did not do that. Rather, the Father purposed to send His Son to redeem us! This proves the God is fair.
2. God can be completely fair because He has all the facts seeing every intent and motive of every human heart—“Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one’s praise will come from God.” (1 Cor. 4:5).
3. God is fair because He judges men by their own ways—“Yet the house of Israel says, ’The way of the Lord is not fair.’ ‘O house of Israel, is it not My ways which are fair, and your ways which are not fair? Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways,’ says the Lord GOD. ‘Repent, and turn from all your transgressions, so that iniquity will not be your ruin.’” (Eze. 18:29-30).
4. God is fair because He only requires men to respond based upon what they know—“For there is no partiality with God. For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law (Rom. 2:11-12). God bases His judgment on the light that has been given a man and the response that a person makes to this revelation.
a. The light of creation.
In Romans 1:19-20 “because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse”—Paul explains that men possess the light of creation because the invisible attributes of God are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made. God’s creation is a powerful revelation of our Creator. God has clearly proven His existence by what He has made. “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard” (Psalms 19:1-3).God’s proof is the physical world we live in and the biological creation of the human body. The plant and animal kingdoms also give testimony that God is powerful and wise. These truths men either acknowledge or suppress in their hearts. Therefore Paul declares that if men reject this light they are absolutely without excuse before God.
God won’t even allow the excuse, “I never heard the gospel.” Even if someone grew up in the jungles of South America, Borneo, or some remote place in the world. That man is still without excuse. Why? Because the witness of creation has already been given to prove that God exists.
However, if men respond to the light they have been given, God will give them more light, the light of the gospel. Cornelius, the Roman centurion, is the best example of this fact (Acts 10). This man believed and feared God but he didn’t know who God was or that the Messiah had come. Therefore, an angel was sent by God to tell Peter to go witness to this man. Cornelius heard the gospel and was saved. I believe this is why missionaries are out in the jungles today, because someone is seeking more light. See also the example of Philip being sent to the Ethiopian eunuch—“Then the Spirit said to Philip, ‘Go near and overtake this chariot.’” (Acts 8:29).
b. The light of conscience.
In Romans 2:11-15 “For there is no partiality with God. For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law (for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified; for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them)”—Paul explains that God will judge every man on the basis of what he knows. He explains that to the Jew who knew the Law he will be judged by the Law. But for the Gentile who didn’t have the law, God deals with him on the basis of his conscience. Since God knows the heart of man He knows if a man has obeyed his conscience or rejected it’s accusations. The conscience of man is the proof that the law of God is written on every man’s heart. The tribesman in the depth of the jungles of Borneo has a conscience. The Law of God is written upon his heart, just as it is with someone born here in the United States.
Think for a moment. Why is it that we felt bad about certain sins before we ever heard the gospel? That was the conviction of our conscience. Yet, we violated our conscience anyway and did whatever we pleased. Your conscience has been given to each of us to either accuse us for sinful actions, or excuse us when we do that which is right (vs. 15).
Therefore, God is fair in all His judgments because He sees man’s heart, He sees his conscience, and He sees man’s deeds, which enables the Father to judge righteously and according to truth.
c. The light of the Law.
To the Jews God gave the additional light of His Law. Therefore, the Jew will be judged by the light of creation, the light of conscience, and the light of God’s Law. “For there is no partiality with God. For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law (for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified” (Rom. 2:11-13)
d. The light of the Gospel.
For us, we will be judged on the basis of the light of creation, the light of our conscience, and the light of the Gospel. Paul declares that one day God will, “judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel” (Rom. 2:16).
In conclusion, God is obviously fair when He judges in this manner. He only requires men to respond based upon the light that they have. What could be more fair than that? Once you have established these truths, ask the person you are witnessing to; “since you know these things, what is keeping you from responding to Christ?” This person has heard and does know the truth. What’s hindering a response? Asking questions like this will help you determine exactly what is hindering the person from receiving Christ and what issues you need to address.”
III. God’s Judgment on the Judgement Day
1. Will we enter into the Kingdom of Heaven when we become a Christian?
Jesus warned us very clearly that: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” (Matthew 7:21-23 NKJV) In another word, not everyone who worships Him, who preaches about Him, who witnesses for Him, who heals others in His name or even casts out devils in His Name will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven! But he who does the will of My Father will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. And what is the will of His Father? Jesus has revealed His Father’s will several times or I should say on almost every page of His Gospel. He specifically said it to His disciples at the Last Supper, when He knew the hearts of His disciples were burning with a more ardent love for Him. He gave them a new commandment. He said to them with inexpressible tenderness: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35 NKJV) We are to love one another just like He, Jesus, loves him unconditionally. In order for us to be able to do that we have to pray to Jesus to change our hearts of stone to a new heart so that: “I will give them a new heart and a new mind. I will take away their stubborn heart of stone and will give them an obedient heart. Then they will keep my laws and faithfully obey all my commands.” (Ezekiel 11:19-20 TEV)
Love is the essence of the Christian faith. St Paul emphasized that he could be a martyr or even gave away everything he had but have no love, it is useless: “And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.”(1 Corinthians 13:3 NKJV)
2. How will God judge each and every one of us?
Read what the Bible says; “Do you think I enjoy seeing evil people die?” asks the Sovereign Lord. “No, I would rather see them repent and live. But if a righteous person stops doing good and starts doing all the evil, disgusting things that evil people do, will he go on living? No! None of the good he did will be remembered. He will die because of his unfaithfulness and his sins. But you say, ‘What the Lord does isn’t right.’ Listen to me, you Israelites. Do you think my ways of doing things isn’t right? It is your way that isn’t right. When a righteous person stops doing good and starts doing evil and then dies, he dies because of the evil he has done. When someone evil stops sinning and does what is right and good, he saves his life. He realises what he is doing and stops sinning, so he will certainly not die, but go on living. And you Israelites say, ‘What the Lord does isn’t right.’ You think my way isn’t right, do you? It is your way that isn’t right. Now I, the Sovereign lord, am telling you Israelites that I will judge each of you by what you have done. Turn away from all the evil you are doing, and don’t let your sin destroy you. Give up all the evil you have been doing, and get yourselves new minds and hearts. Why do you Israelites want to die? I do not want anyone to die,” says the Sovereign Lord. “Turn away from your sins and live.” (Ezekiel 18:23-32 TEV)
We know that God is forever fair and merciful. My view is that with human beings’ limited understanding of God; I would leave judgment to God Himself. After all God defers His judgment till Judgment Day so let us do likewise. As the Lord says in the Bible, “I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways.” (Ezekiel 18:30 NKJV) Since most people inherited their religions from their parents or from the environment they come from, I will leave it to God to judge each and every person in the light of his religious belief.
God does not “enjoy seeing evil people die.” He wants all of us to live and to turn away from our sins. But in order to do that, we have to change our hardened hearts to grateful hearts by being born from above. As Jesus tells Nicodemus, “I am telling you the truth: no man can see the Kingdom of God without being born from above.”(John 3:3 TEV) At the same time we have to change and become like children in trusting that God loves us unconditionally as Beloved children of God. This is the same full trust that little children have: that their loving parents will love them no matter how naughty they are. Jesus says, “I assure you that unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the Kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3 TEV) “Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.” (Mark 10:15 NKJV)
3. How will Jesus judge each and everyone on the Judgment Day?
Christ has said it very clearly how each and every one of us is going to be judged on the last day:
“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:’for I was hungry and you fed Me, thirsty and you gave Me a drink. I was a stranger and you received Me in your homes, naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you took care of Me, in prison and you visited Me.’ The righteous will then answer Him, ‘When, Lord, did we ever see You hungry and fed You, or thirsty and give You a drink? When did we ever see You a stranger and welcome You into our homes, or naked and clothe You? When did we ever see You sick or in prison, and visit You?’ The King will reply, ‘whenever you did this for one of the least important of these followers of Mine, you did it for Me!’” (Matthew 25:31-40 NKJV)
“Insofar as you did this to one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did it to Me.”(Matthew 25:40 NJB)
4. Mother Teresa’s definition of poverty.
Mother Teresa definition of poverty is broad: “Who are the poorest of the poor? They are the unwanted, the unloved, the ignored, the hungry, the naked, the homeless, the leper, and the alcoholic in our midst.” (One Heart Full of Love, p.27) She defines the “least of My brethren” as:
“the hungry and the lonely, not only for food but for the Word of God;
the thirsty and the ignorant, not only for water but also for knowledge, peace, truth, justice, and love;
the naked and the unloved, not only for clothes but also for human dignity;
the unwanted, the unborn child; the racially discriminated against; the homeless and abandoned, not only for a shelter made of bricks, but for a heart that understands, that covers, that loves;
the sick, the dying destitutes, and the captives, not only in body but also in mind and spirit:
all those who have lost all hope and faith in life, the alcoholics and drug addicts and all those who have lost God (for them God was but God is) and who have lost all hope in the power of the Spirit.” (A Simple Path, xxx)
Many of us, when we think of the poor, often think of someone who has very little money and has difficulty feeding himself. But all of us are poor in some way or other. Our poverty could be lack of loving partner, lack of emotional stability, lack of security, lack of confidence. And the sick need not necessarily be in the hospitals, it could be any of us who are troubled emotionally, mentally or spiritually. Finally, the prisoners need not be people who are in prisons but people who are trapped in their fear, people who feel persecuted or terrorized, people who are locked in their own prisons of their past or people who cannot break out of their own closed mind set. Thus the poor, the sick and the prisoners can be any one of our family members as well.
Mother Teresa said:
“If anyone wants to help me, let them begin at home. There is help needed on your doorstep, in your place of work, in your office and in your factory” (The Joy of Loving, November 30)
“Maybe in our own family we have somebody who is feeling lonely, who is feeling sick, who is feeling worried. Are we there? Let us know the poor in our own families first. We have old people: they are put in institutions and they are never visited; with less and less time even to smile at each other, with less and less time to be together. Love begins at home, if we can only make our own homes temples of love.” (The Joy of Loving, 7 December)
“Does each of you, before anything else, know the poor in your homes? Are you aware that in your own family, in your own living situation, there may be someone who is very lonely, who feels unloved or hurt? Are you aware of this? Maybe that lonely or hurt one is your own husband, your wife or your child, who is lonely at home, in the same home where you live. Are you aware of that?” (One Heart Full of Love, 4)
“Before anything else look for the poor in your homes and on the street where you live. There are lonely people around you in hospitals and psychiatric wards. There are so many people that are homeless.” (One Heart Full of Love, 11)
“In your family, if it is your vocation to have a family, love one another as husband and wife and have a family. The service you perform and the work you accomplish are your love for God put into practice.” (One Heart Full of Love, 43)
“The work that each one of you carries out in your families for those you love is an expression of your love for God. Love starts at home. For your love to be real, it cannot waver at home.” (One Heart Full of Love, 91)
“Poverty comes into our homes to give us the chance to love. Perhaps in our own families, there is someone who feels lonely, who is sick, or who is overwhelmed with worry. Are we there, open and willing to offer support and affection? Are you, mothers, available to your children?” (One Heart Full of Love, 79)
“You need to make an effort to know your poor. It is possible that your people enjoy material security, that they don’t need anything of that sort. But I think that if you look inside your own homes, you may notice how hard it is for you to smile at one another sometimes! And yet smiling is the beginning of love. Let’s be willing to smile at one another. Yes, a smile is the beginning of love. And once we begin to love one another, the desire to do something more naturally follows.” (One Heart Full of Love, 86)
“We know that poverty means, first of all, to be hungry for bread, to need clothing, and not have home. But there is a far greater kind of poverty. It means being unwanted, unloved, and neglected. It means having no one to call your own.
We may experience this kind of poverty even in our own homes. Often it is difficult for us to smile, even at our children, our husband, or our wife. Our young boys and girls then sense the lack of affection around them. Here is where love really starts. Love should start at home. We must give Jesus absolute reign in our homes. Once we have Jesus with us, then we can give Him to others.” (One Heart Full of Love, 71-72)
So, if we think in terms of loving our family members first, then, Jesus is asking us to make the connection between the loneliness and suffering in our family members and His suffering on the Cross. He is asking us to do something for our lonely, unloved and suffering family members. And do it with lots of love. And when we do it for our family members consider it done for Him and to Him. If we have this change in our mind set and heart set we will be able to be transformed like Him. It is very easy to do good to people far away but it is very difficult to be loving to the demanding, the exacting, the unreasonable, the irritable, the manipulative, the depressed, the disgusted, the hot-tempered, the nagging, the indifferent, the lout, the morose family members next to us. But, then, when it is demanding that’s when we are being challenged to do our loving at it’s best!
It is not how much we do but how much love we put into our doing that is important. If our simple acts of doing does not come from the desire to be loving and to be with the suffering individual, then it really becomes just social work. So, for instance, if we have to spend time with a lonely or suffering member in our family, we can do it mechanically or feel that it is an imposition on our enjoyment time or that we have to as it is expected. But we can, instead, give our full attention and spend time gladly and with smiles for the suffering member. We do not smile at him but smile with and for him to cheer him up. We do it with love. We do not ask why this or why that, how come he is suffering, what has happened to him, we just see the need and take care of him. This is doing it with lots of love and this is very tough if there appears to be no end to this doing. Jesus tells us to see the connection of our family member’s loneliness, unwantedness, fear and suffering as His suffering on the Cross and see with new spiritual eyes that what we are doing with much love to the family member, we are doing it to Jesus and for Jesus. Only then can we do it without any ending in sight. There are so many loving acts we can do in the family: We can care, we can console, we can be compassionate, we can be patient, we can be gentle, we can be civil, we can be kind, we can be humble, we can apologize often, we can forgive often, we can give more, we can give more smile, more laugh, more joy, dance more, enjoy more. We can concentrate on bearing “much fruit” (John 15:5).
But what are the fruits? They are:
· Our smiles
· Our laughter
· Our kisses
· Our embraces
· Our encouragement
· Our support
· Our hugs
· Our gratitude
· Our thanks
· Our care
· Our joy
· Our compassion
· Our gentleness
· Our trust in God
· Our kindness
· Our goodness
· Our patience
· Our humility
· Our hospitality
· Our presence
· Our friendship
· Our words of love
· Our acts of love
· Our every gesture of love
· Our every word of forgiveness
· Our every little bit of joy
· Our faithfulness
· Our peace
· Our hopes
· Our gifts
Indeed, we have much to do at home even before we venture out to do good works. And for our love to be real, it cannot waver at home!
Mother Teresa said:
“When Jesus came into the world, He loved it so much that He gave His life for it. He wanted to satisfy our hunger for God. And what did He do? He made Himself the Bread of Life. He became small, fragile, and defenseless for us. Bits of bread can be so small that even a baby can chew it, even a dying person can eat it. He became the Bread of Life to satisfy our hunger for God, our hunger for love.
As if that were not enough, He Himself took on our human condition. He became hungry. He became naked. He became the poor one dying in our streets, so that we could satisfy our hunger for human love by loving Him. This is not something which is imaginary. It is not something out of the ordinary. God comes to us in human love so that we can love Him with our hearts. He wants us to love Him in those who are hungry, in those who are naked, in those who are homeless. This is what you and I are called to do. We must learn to pray steadfastly for this call.
The work that each one of you carries out in your families for those you love is an expression of your love for God. Love starts at home. For your love to be real, it cannot waver at home.” (One Heart Full of Love, 91)
“I have another conviction that I want to share with you. Love begins at home, and every co-worker should try to make sure that deep family love abides in his or her home. Only when love abides at home can we share it with our next-door neighbour. Then it will show forth and you will be able to say to them, ‘Yes, love is here.’ And then you will be able to share it with everyone around you.” (One Heart Full of Love, 56-57)
I am sure there will be no end to disagreements when we concentrate on Christianity being the ‘only way’ to salvation or the way to the Kingdom of God. As Jean Vanier (the founder of L’Arche, a world wide community that looks after the mentally handicapped) says, “Christianity is not first of all a theology, a catechism or moral laws, but a relationship with a person, the PERSON OF JESUS.” (The Catholic News, March 3-10,2002) So, if we ignore the doctrines and focus on the pragmatic side of what Mother Teresa said, then it really boils down to having a heart of love. As the Bible says, “God is love, and those who live in love live in union with God and God lives in union with them“(1 John 4:16 TEV). “Those who do not love Me do not obey My teaching. And the teaching you have heard is not Mine, but comes from the Father, who sent Me.”(John 14:24) “Whoever loves is a child of God and knows God.”(1 John 4:7) “Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love“(1 John 4:8). As Mother Teresa said, “People who love each other fully and truly are the happiest people in the world. They may have little, they may have nothing but they are happy people. Everything depends on how we love one another.” (The Joy in Loving, May 1) Isn’t this, then, salvation and living in the Kingdom of God? For on the Judgement Day, we will be judged not only by what we have done but also by what we have failed to do. We will be judged by our sins of omission, by our failure to love God, to love others and to love our enemies. The question that will be asked is not:
How have I believed? But
How have I loved?