You have heard this sentence many times. It is necessary for us today to reflect how this way can conduce us, and what truth and life is talking about.
Every single way is defined by the desti- nation and for how effective it is in leading us there. The way of Jesus is a way of thinking, acting, and living that will conduce us to one place only: to heaven with the Father. It is clear in today’s Gospel that all the efforts that Jesus made to save us had one goal and that is to take us to that place he has prepared for us.
Jesus said: I am the way. Now, how we reconcile this with what some people affirmed in our days: there are many ways. He affirmed that he is “The Way” not “One of the Ways”. Moreover, he clearly says that No one comes to the Father except through me. So, how should we understand this statement? Is everyone else wrong and we are right?
Jesus came to offer salvation to all, and salvation is only possible through him, He is not one of many ways nor can he be equal to others. In the past, the Fathers of the church affirmed that it is only in Jesus and his Church where we can find salvation. Look at what some of them affirmed:
Saint Augustine (died A.D. 430): “No man can find salvation except in the Catholic Church. Outside the Catholic Church one can have everything except salvation” (Sermo ad Caesariensis Ecclesia plebem ). Also Saint Thomas Aquinas (died A.D. 1274): “There is no entering into salvation outside the Church, just as in in the time of the deluge there was none outside the ark, which denotes the Church.” (Summa Theologiae).
In the past and maybe today, this could be understood incorrectly. Those statements we just mentioned don’t mean that people who are not catholic or not Christians cannot be saved. We need to explain better the phrases of the Gospel and the interpretation of the Tradition.
All salvation is through Christ, even when people don’t know it. And all salvation is in the church, but we need to explain who belongs to the church. In the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the question: Who belongs to the Catholic Church? is answered: “All men are called to this catholic unity of the People of God…. and to it, in different ways, belong or are ordered: the Catholic faithful, others who believe in Christ, and finally all mankind, called by God’s grace to salvation.” LG 13 ( Cf. CCC # 836).
There are different ways to belong to the church, some with the fullness of participation, others with less, but every single person who with sincerity of heart looks for God and or good, still belongs to the church. 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. (LG 16).
To finish, we need to say:
No one is saved or not saved because they belong to one specific way of salvation. We are saved because of the way we live our commitment to what we believe.. As Augustine wisely remarked: “How many sheep there are without, how many wolves within!” (Homilies on John, 45, 12)
Jesus is “the” way. Not all the ways are the same, and even though many are doing good things, some different ways exist in the participation of the fullness of truth manifested in Jesus.
We profess that we believe in “One church”, not many, and it is through the participation in the truth that we profess that others belong to our church.
We need to pray that each one of us in the church may come to the fullness of participation which for us is through holiness. And pray also for every single person who seeks God with a sincere heart, that they also may come to full communion with us, with the Church and with Jesus, who is the way, that without knowing they already walk.
– Fr. Sergio