For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost “. (Luke 19:10)
The current pandemic is a reality we are sadly having to embrace. And it has dragged on longer than any of us had expected. The struggle that comes with it is not the virus itself but the ripples that it creates. It comfortably took its place in the eye of the storm. And as we well know, it is not in the eye of the storm where we find destruction, but in the winding web of cloudy debris that surrounds it.
And praise God who uses all things for good.
We have always lived in a world that thirsts for certainty, truth, and security. But more so now that we are given so much time to think and ponder. We cry in the midst of death. We despair in the midst of suffering. We loose hope in the midst of loneliness. And we begin to fear in the midst of uncertainty.
Suddenly, the desire for “more than this world has to offer” becomes an appealing concept, no longer ringing out as a cliché but as mans search for meaning. It is during these tender and vulnerable moments in our life that God stands at the door waiting to come in and give us more than we could ever desire. But many of us never open that door.
In time, we begin to take inventory of the life we have lived and the lives of those who we love and we question with sincerity whether or not we will be able to enjoy the “more” that lies beyond the veil of this passing world. Because deep inside our soul there is a genuine desire to see God face to face. And this question becomes more and more palpable as those we love begin to pass away. As has been happening for many during this time of pandemic.
I was recently discussing the subject with a friend who was asked “will my loved one go to heaven?”. And it seems that the consensus is, we want to comfort the sorrowing and embrace their hurt. But what answer can we give while remaining faithful to the truths of our faith? Specially when the Gospels present us with verses such as: “whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned.” (Mark 16:16)
Baptism is certainly the one means by which we enter into the promise of Salvation and full relationship with God. But the message of Jesus Christ is ultimately one of Love. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) Mercy has shown us time and again, that the universality of God’s love overflows beyond our understanding. And particular judgment belongs to God alone.
This is not an excuse for the Catholic faithful but a sign of hope and mercy for those who have yet to fully embraced the faith. We have the priviledge of evangelization and the gift to share the fullness of God’s truth as we have received it, specially during this time of confusion, uncertainty, pain and loss. But the foundation of this gift must be Love. We have the grace of inviting others into communion with Jesus. And we cannot forget that in the end it is God’s work to fulfill his promise of Eternal life in every soul, it is our work to proclaim it. Never the other way around.
Ultimately, our response should first and foremost be one of love. Never one of condemnation. Because there are many hearts yearning for more these days and the “more” that we give them is enough to save lives because it is Christ himself that we offer and he alone can save.