Who will be saved?

FJ October

As a young adult, I used to hang out with Christians from different denominations. Often I was the only Catholic, which made me a source of intrigue, interest and sometimes ridicule. At these gatherings, a question often directed to me was: “Are you saved?” This baffled me at first. Did they mean was I going to heaven when I died? Wasn’t this God’s decision, not mine?

I’ve often thought about that experience when I hear the Gospel reading where someone asks Jesus, “Will there be only a few saved?” (Luke 13:22-30). I’ve heard a few priests say they feel a bit nervous having to preach about this Gospel. Why? Because it throws up lots of questions. Will only a few people get into heaven as some religious groups think? What does a person have to do to get into heaven? If everyone is going to be “saved”, why bother with religious practice? What about Hitler, Stalin or Mao – will they be saved? Is hell a real place?

Religious or not, most people, at some stage during their lives, think about what happens after death. As a Catholic, I believe God has something in store for us when our time on earth is finished; that something is usually referred to as heaven. My aim, and my hope, is that we will all get to heaven, but how? Jesus provides a somewhat cryptic answer. He says we must “enter by the narrow gate”.

What does this mean? Pope Francis offers us some wisdom on who might get through this narrow gate or door. He says to think of those who suffer because of their faith, but who continue to pray and love; those who respond to evil with good and who find the strength to forgive; and those who serve others without concern for their own interests and put up with discomfort or misunderstanding.

Pope Francis says these people are examples of those “who do not choose the wide door of their own convenience, but the narrow door of Jesus, of a life spent in loving”. The Pope challenges us further by asking, “Do we prefer the easy way of thinking only about ourselves, or do we choose the narrow door of the Gospel that puts our selfishness into crisis, but which makes us able to welcome the true life that comes from God and makes us happy?”

If you find yourself reflecting on who is to be saved, and who isn’t, I encourage you to ponder both this Gospel and the full homily given by Pope Francis. In the meantime, let us be people of hope, knowing that the narrow door is open to all of us if we so choose.



Pope Francis, Angelus address, St Peter’s Square, Sunday, 21 August, 2022.

Bishop Robert Barron, The Narrow Gate, 17 August, 2016 (audio – 14 minutes).


Image: Lightstock  

Words: Sharon Brewer

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