Basics of Salvation
Fourth Sunday of Easter (Easter4B), May 3, 2009
By Fr. Phil Bloom
Bottom line: We are saved by Jesus alone; that salvation involves taking up our role as members of Jesus' flock, the Church. (The Annual Catholic Appeal is a vital part of our participation in the Church.)
Today is Commitment Sunday for the Annual Catholic Appeal.
Interestingly enough, the readings describe the basics of salvation. Now, I am not going to tell you that you that your salvation depends on how much you give to the Annual Catholic Appeal. :) But it does have a place in salvation. Let me explain.
In the first reading Peter speaks about Jesus, crucified on account of our sins and raised from the dead. Then he says - and I hope this does not come as a surprise to anyone here - Peter says "there is no salvation through anyone else." Buddha, Mohamed, Confucius - they all have there place in history, but only one person can save us, Jesus. Peter makes clear that there is no other name given to the human race by which we are saved. That is pretty basic.
In the Gospel, Jesus mentions an element of this salvation: He is the Good Shepherd who knows us and guides us. Even though some sheep have strayed off on their own, Jesus wants to bring them back. He desires "one flock, one shepherd." We are saved by following Jesus - and that means we become part of his one flock: the Church.
As members of that flock, we depend on him. We also help each other. I remember when I was in the highlands of Peru, visiting some of our more remote villages. In the evening you could see sheep huddling close to each for warmth and security. At a distance you could sometimes hear the howl of some potential predator. Like those sheep, we not only need the shepherd, but we rely on each other for warmth, safety and encouragement.
That is where the Appeal comes in. It provides for the training of seminarians. They will become the priests who will shepherd in Jesus name. The Appeal also make possible a structure of religious education and youth ministry in the Archdiocese. It provides ministry for brothers and sisters in hospitals, jails and homeless.
A couple of weeks ago - on Divine Mercy Sunday - Fr. Frank Pavone spoke about receiving God's mercy and extending it to others. He described ways we reach out to women who are in crisis pregnancies, as well as healing for those who have been involved in the tragedy of abortion. The Annual Catholic Appeal, by supporting Catholic Community Services and Project Rachel, is an important part of that effort.
I could say a lot more about the Appeal. After all, it funds some 63 outreach agencies...
Before asking you to fill out your pledge envelope, let me sum up: We are saved by Jesus alone. That salvation involves taking up our role as members of Jesus' flock, the Church. The Annual Catholic Appeal is a vital part of our participation in the Church.