Friday, May 20, 2011

You can't there from here

Today's gospel ends with "no one comes to the Father except through me." For some, this gets interpreted as Christians get to heaven, everyone else burns in hell. The Catholic position is a bit more nuanced.

For us there was the pre-Jesus divide. Humans were human, God was God. Then in the person of Jesus, the two are brought together, and suddenly it is possible for all humans to share the divine life. In this sense, it is only through him, his life, death, and resurrection, that we can be part of the divine life.

If Jesus is God, as we rightly assert, then how can I be part of God, and not part of Jesus.

As an adopted child, I compare it to the issue of my biological parents. Even though I have never seen them, and probably never will, I must acknowledge that it is only through them that I have biological life. Even if I were to claim that I have no interest in knowing them, the fact of their being the source of my physical life would remain. For me to say, they have no part in my life would be irrational.

In the same way, in our Catholic understand it is possible for people who do not know Jesus, but strive to do God's will to participate in salvation/ the divine life, but there is no getting around the fact that Jesus is the source of that divine life, just as my biological parents whom I do not know are the source of my physical life.

Were it not for them I would not have physical life, were it not for Jesus, none of us would share the divine life. God would have remained God, and humans merely human. We do not get physical biological life on our own without parents, and were it not for God's choice to be one with us in Jesus we would not have the divine, spiritual life that we call "salvation."