Browsing through the various internet news services I came across this title: ‘Faith embraced in times of trouble’(By John Stapleton, March 24, 2008, The Australian newspaper), I thought, well, that has long been the case.
Further into the article (follow the link for full details), I read the following: “In his homily during Easter Sunday mass at St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney, Cardinal George Pell emphasised the broad appeal of his faith to a standing-room only congregation.
He was applauded when he welcomed a delegation of Muslims from the group Affinity Intercultural Foundation, which he said promoted “the worthy project” of friendship between the faiths.
“Christians don’t believe that Easter is for Christians only, as Catholics don’t believe that Easter only brings salvation to Catholics,” he said.
“It brings about the possibility of eternal life for all good people. There are many rooms in the father’s house after death.”
Cardinal Pell urged everyone to be “agents for the spreading of goodness” and said that God’s grace was not limited by accidents of birth. ”
Let’s have a look at the quote Cardinal George Pell uses, regarding ‘there are many rooms in my Father’s house’. It comes from John’s Gospel, Chapter 14, now- the context is that Jesus is talking to His disciples – not a crowd of visiting religious dignitaries, so the following verses provide the back drop to this statement; plus, I’ve included the verses that follow on, which also provided the setting for Jesus’ relationship with His Father (Verses 1-10, NIV): “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God ; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you (the disciples + followers of Jesus). And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”
Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” (These key words are often passed over by many.)
Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”
Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me?”
As you can see, Jesus words are directed to a specific group of people – His words were not directed at a general crowd of diverse peoples!
Next, let us look at the words ‘the possibility of eternal life for all good people’. For this, we can go to Luke 18:18-19 (NIV): “A certain ruler asked him (Jesus), “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone.”
The sad outcome is that Jesus said that there are no good people, so for everyone who does not qualify as ‘good’ (and no one does); and, they are not subject to the mercy of God through Jesus (I use these words to cover both ‘belief in Jesus’ and ‘His sovereign will’ on whom He will have mercy on): then there is no possibility of eternal life – now that’s a bit different to what Cardinal George Pell implies – don’t you think?