Wednesday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time
John said to Jesus, “Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name, and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us.”
Teacher. Taking a wild guess, I would say there are hundreds of millions of non-Catholics that love the Lord immensely. They may not follow all the teachings of the Catholic faith, but I have no doubt they love the Lord with all their heart, with all their mind and with all their soul.
Again, guessing, I would say there must be millions of non-Christians that love Jesus as well, either as a prophet or as someone who was exceptionally wise and loving. They may not follow all the teachings of Christianity, but I have no doubt they love our God the best they know how.
Not too long ago I saw the movie “The Life of Pi”. I was curious to know why this movie received so many Oscar nominations and great reviews. So, I rented it, and to my delight, I found it quite interesting. To my surprise, I found it quite religious. The protagonist, Pi, grows up to become a Hindu, Christian and Muslim. This was not a surprise given the fact that Hinduism claims that all other religions are yogas: ways, deeds, paths. Hence, Christianity is a form of bhakti yoga (yoga for emotional types and lovers). There is also jnana yoga (yoga for intellectuals), karma yoga (yoga for workers, practical people), and various others. For Hindus, religions are human roads up the divine mountain to enlightenment. There is no one way, no objective truth just human need.
Pi embraces all faiths. What is left to our imagination is how he resolved the obvious contradictions among the three faiths? Hollywood loves Hinduism and Buddhism (Oriental religions) not because they love to worship God but because they worship “Equality”.
Now what I found most amusing about the movie was the director’s casting. Not in the least surprising was the fact that an Indian played the role of a believer while a white man, a Canadian, played the role of a religious skeptic. It is the encounter of our century: First World Man meets Third World Man! Or better yet: the “Modern” man (the man of textbooks and the virtual world), interviews the “Cultured” man, the man of human (living) experience. Did you notice how lost the Modern Man looked?
Impressive to me was how ignorant the First World man is of culture, of faith, of family and of tradition. Again, First World Man may have studied human interactions, family and religions in museums and prestigious universities, but the simple Pi lived and experienced them all. How sad for the West! But thank God for First World Man. Pi spoke to him in English.
He does not follow us. Pi is a pious Hindu. There are millions of gods in the Hindu faith because there are millions of things on earth. God is in everything and everywhere, good and bad. There is no sin and no need of a Savior. But as philosophy professor Peter Kreeft of Boston College put it: “Hindus are hard to have a dialogue with for the opposite reason Muslims are: Muslims are not very tolerant, Hindus are very tolerant. Nothing is false; everything is true in a way. Islam is like a cold iron spike; Hinduism is like a warm fog” (Fundamentals of the Faith, pg. 92).
Whoever is not against us is for us. As Christians we believe in sin and grace, heaven and hell, God and creation. We believe in one Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who died for us because He loves us and wants to save us in spite of ourselves!
Is it possible for non-Christians and non-Catholics to make it to heaven? Of course! Absolutely! But it will always be through Him. "No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6).