A preacher approached a stranger on the street: “Mister, have you been saved?” The man replied, “Gosh, I don’t know. I’m a Catholic.” Catholics have a problem with that question. We would give a three-part answer to it: “Yes, I have been saved; I am being saved; and I hope to be saved. I have been saved by the sufferings, death and resurrection of Christ. I am being saved because it’s a lifelong process, and I hope to be saved by the goodness and mercy of God and my faithful cooperation with grace.”
Being saved has a special meaning for many other Christians. For some it means an once-in-a-lifetime commitment to Jesus, accepting him as Lord and Saviour of their life. It is usually a special moment when a person steps forward at a crusade or prayer meeting and experiences an emotional sense of the Lord’s presence and saving power. But for Catholics it usually means that at the moment of death, when we stand before God in judgment, God will say, “Come on in, good and faithful servant. You have made it; Be my guest for all eternity.”
“I have been saved” - through the goodness of God the Father who loved the world so much that he sent his only Son to earth to take our sins upon himself, to suffer and die in our place, God now offers us his salvation as a free gift which we can accept or refuse. By accepting this free gift, without which it is impossible to please God, we become God’s sons and daughters together with all it implies.
“I am being saved.” I look to the Lord each day for the grace to continue believing in God and doing God’s will. I am being called to enter more deeply into God’s plan for me throughout my whole life, to accept his gift of salvation more fully. Jesus reminded us, “Not everyone who says to me Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of God.” Catholics believe that good works, reception of the sacraments and church teachings, together with faith in Jesus Christ, the one mediator between God and us, all play a part in our salvation; they are indications that we do accept God into our life. Being saved is much more than one moment in a person’s conversion or acceptance of Jesus as one’s personal Lord and Saviour.
“I hope to be saved.” Jesus warned, “Those who persevere to the end will be saved.” (Mark 13:13). So we continually pray for the grace of final perseverance. Speaking of salvation, Paul says, “I pray that I may know Jesus and the power of his resurrection. Not that I have already attained it or am perfect, but I press onward to make it my own.” (Phil. 3:11-13)
Fr. Wojtek Kuzma