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Way, Truth, and Life - Jesus Only

Dr. Marcellino D'AmbrosioThe Way, The Truth, and The Life - Jesus Only

Marcellino D'Ambrosio, Ph.D.

 

 

Gods Children

Jesus said "I am the way, the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father but through me."  But isn't this narrow?  Are there not many paths that all lead to the top of the mountain?


It’s not politically incorrect to believe in God. Just so long as you acknowledge that all are God’s children, and that there are many, equally honorable paths to the Most High. After all, that’s only fair. How conceited it would be to claim that your way is the only way.

 

There is nothing really new about this attitude. In the days of the Roman Emperors, no one had any problems with people worshiping some carpenter from Galilee who they believed to be God’s son. As long as they’d be broad-minded enough to worship the emperor and Jupiter, and the rest of the Pantheon as well. But instead, they believed what Peter proclaimed in this Sunday’s first reading: that there is no other name given under heaven by which we can be saved (Acts 4). Not Caesar, or Jupiter, or Mohammed, or Buddha. For such arrogant closed-mindedness they were thrown to the lions.

 

Seeds of Truth

Does this mean that other creeds have nothing to offer but damnable lies? Not in the least. St. Justin Martyr (d. 165) said that there were “seeds of truth” scattered about in the teaching of the great philosophers. St. Paul honored the Athenians for their pious worship of the “unknown” God (Acts 17).

 

But we are not talking here about bits and pieces of truth, but about eternal salvation. Redemption required more than some good lectures or inspiring quotes–namely, a perfect sacrifice of a perfect life, a life of infinite value. Buddha did not lay down his life for his followers. Neither did Mohammed. And even if they had, they weren’t “savior” qualified in terms of possessing a sinless life of infinite (read divine) value.

 

4th Sunday of Easter- Our shephard and his sheep

Only the Word made flesh was qualified, and only he dared do it. He is, as Sunday’s gospel teaches us, the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep. But he is not exclusivist–his sheep include anyone wants to be one of his sheep, even those who formerly drove the nails into his sacred hands. One sacrifice for all people, for all time.

 

Does this mean that if people haven’t heard of Him and continue to follow Mohammed or Buddha that they are certainly hell bound? Not exactly. For we are told that there are “other sheep” who do not yet travel with the flock but who do belong to the Shepherd. Responding to the hidden grace of the Holy Spirit, they’ve opened their heart to the truth, wherever it may be found, and seek to do what their conscience tells them is their duty. They may be devotees of Mohammed or Buddha because their hearts have recognized some sparks of truth and goodness in the teaching of those men, and they are hungry for truth and righteousness. If they die good Muslims or Buddhists and are saved, they are saved not by Mohammed or Buddha, but by the only savior, the one who died for them, the unknown God that they secretly sought as they eagerly read the Koran or contemplated the bliss of nirvana.

 

Abundant Life in rich pastures

So we should just leave them alone since they’ll be saved anyway, right? That’s not what the gospel says. The fact that it is possible they’ll be saved doesn’t mean it’s a sure thing. The Shepherd wants to feed his sheep with rich fare, with nourishment adequate for the long and arduous journey home. And he wants to protect them from the thieves and robbers waiting to ambush the sheep as they make their way down the road. He can only do this if he can gather them into one flock that he can lead to the green pastures of the Scriptures, the Sacraments, and the rich Tradition of the Catholic Church, the nourishment that makes for not just survival, but an abundant life (John 10:10). So it’s our duty to do what we can to introduce them to the Shepherd and let them know where the best food is to be found.

 

This article originally appeared in the Our Sunday Visitor as a reflection on Acts 4:8-12; Psalm 118; I John 3:1-2; & John 10:11-18, the Mass readings for the 4th Sunday of Easter, year B. It is reproduced here by permission of the author.

 

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I Believe - The Heart of Catholic Faith

First given as a Lenten retreat, this is an awesome 4 session program to revitalize your faith and prepare you for the joy of Easter. Great for individuals or families or small groups. The workbook is a treasure of discussion questions, devotions and spiritual exercises that can serve as an easy-to-follow roadmap through the Lent or Holy Week that will break you out of stale patterns and enrich both your prayer and your understanding of the central truths of the Catholic faith, empowering you to share that faith with others.


 

God's Seven Gifts: The Seven Sacraments of the Catholic Church - 6 CD Set
 God's 7 Gifts |The Seven Sacraments of the Catholic Church | 6 CD set on liturgy and sacraments The Catholic Church has always emphasized how important the seven sacraments are for our lives. Yet many take these 7 sacraments for granted. With little understanding of the sacraments, many are simply going through the motions. This CD will give you new insight into the meaning of these seven unique embraces of divine love that will unlock the power of the sacraments in your life!


 

Don't Drink the Holy Water
 Don't Drink the Holy Water Young children can be both mystified and confused by what they witness while attending Mass with their families—even when they can see over the adults sitting in front of them!
Don’t Drink the Holy Water! explains the Mass with creative, full-color illustrations and simple descriptions that resonate with kids. A special section at the back of the book helps adults answer kids’ questions about the Mass.
Featuring a 50-minute DVD—broken into 20 small segments, perfect for engaging kids and offering opportunities for questions and reflection—parents, grandparents, godparents, and teachers alike will appreciate this lively, versatile teaching tool.


 

Simple Graces
Simple GracesPoetry is a way of expressing extraordinary thought in a simple fashion; these poems express intense emotions of love, thankfulness, wonder, and peace. Throughout the years, simple graces have inspired poets to write and readers to reflect on God's beauty and love that is all around us.

This collection is divided into themes and each chapter is shaped to give the reader a chance to hear the deep stirring of their hearts put into words - lovely as individual prayer time and wonderful for a group!


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