Are we all going to heaven? We read in this Sunday’s first reading, “God is coming to gather the nations of every language. God created us to be with him to come to know his love. Our destiny is to be with him forever.” We believe that with the death and resurrection of Jesus, humankind has been saved and through baptism we have been given the gift of everlasting life. Thus we all have the possibility of salvation and the church is the means of salvation. As John Paul II taught in his letter, Redemptoris missio, “it is necessary to keep these two truths together, namely, the real possibility of salvation in Christ for all mankind and the necessity of the Church for salvation.” We need to hold together the two truths. Together there is the hope of salvation for all, while renouncing the claim to know that all will be saved. The distinction between hope and knowledge is crucial. Human beings do not know the outcome of God’s judgment. We should leave judgment to God, trusting in his love.
If we believe that the Church is a means of salvation then we need to heed the warning of Jesus. We should not presume that being baptised and being part of God’s family, the Church, means you are saved. You have the hope and means of salvation. Jesus says we need to enter by the narrow door. Belonging to the family through baptism is not enough. “ Lord, open to us” but he will answer, “I do not know where you come from.” Then you will find yourself saying, “We once ate and drank in your company; you taught in our streets” but he will reply, “I do not know where you come from. Away from me, all you wicked men!” Salvation comes when we accept Jesus and start to follow him. This is the narrow door, the only door to life and it is a demanding entrance. At times, it may be painful, like the discipline mentioned in Hebrews, “but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness” (12:11). We also need to bear in mind what the Church says in the Vatican Council document Lumen Gentium 16. “Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience—those too may achieve eternal salvation. We will be amazed who we will meet in heaven.