When I was a young boy we were taught that if you were not Catholic, you could not go to heaven. I remember having a good friend who was not Catholic. When we argued and it came down to “fighting time,” he would run, and he was faster than me and my brothers. As he ran we would yell at him, “you’re not going to heaven because you’re not Catholic!” We were not very Christian to say the least! On the other hand, another childhood memory is of an uncle who was not Catholic, but was one of the kindest men I knew. How could he not be going to heaven?
In today’s gospel Jesus is telling us not to draw such lines. Rather, he encourages us to look at the results and be inclusive rather than exclusive. This makes sense to me. It is not an exclusive club to which we belong. It is the family of God. We are all children of God, created from his infinite love and called to the same love. Let’s be inclusive and assume the best in other people. Isn’t this the message Pope Francis has been teaching us this past year?
—David McNulty is the Provincial Assistant for Advancement, Chicago-Detroit Province Jesuits