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Why wouldn’t Jesus tell a near-death survivor to become a Catholic?

Full Question

I saw on a recent Catholic program a gentleman discussing his near-death experience. He claims that when he asked Jesus what religion he should be, Jesus’ answer was “Follow your conscience.” Jesus told him to get to heaven one thing is required, and that is to love your neighbor. Why would Jesus not have told him to become a Catholic?

Answer

The story as you recount it does convey an impression of indifferentism: that it really doesn’t matter what religion one is.

One explanation, of course, is that Jesus never appeared to him–that the man subconsciously or deliberately made up the story. On the other hand, in this life God often guides us to the Church indirectly. Many converts to Catholicism, after their reception into the Church, say that when they look back over their lives they can see God laying the principles that would later lead them to embrace the faith.

Part of the reason that God does this is that we are often not prepared to accept the full truth as God wants us to have it, and so he leads us into it slowly, as we become ready to receive it. As Jesus told the apostles, “I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now” (Jn 16:12). In cases of private revelation, what the seer experiences is conditioned by his or her situation and background. (See Cardinal Ratzinger’s notes in his commentary that is part of The Message of Fatima.)

Given this, if the gentleman in question did have an encounter with Christ, it could be that he was not yet prepared to face the truth that he should be Catholic, and so he only received a principle that will later lead him into the Church. It could be that God wanted him to embark on a process by which he would struggle and grow in his faith, rather than telling him the easy answer.

However that may be, God often does not tell us the answers up front, even when he talks to us directly. Jesus told parables, and the Old Testament comments that God spoke in riddles even to the prophets.










24 comments

  1. Mairead Conroy Reply

    In the story of Lazarus and Dives God told him he couldn’t come back to warn his family about the awful place they could end up in because they had Moses and the prophets and if they didn’t believe them they wouldn’t even believe someone who rose from the dead………we have all the relevant information as it is……time to do the research

  2. Clarke Hudson Reply

    The man said Jesus told him he only had to love his neighbor to get into heaven. What about loving God? Also there is freewill. God, even in a near death experience, is not going to interfere with the gift of free will. He will, however, take us where we are at in our lives and faith and gently guide us to the truth if we are open to His truth.

    1. Peter Paul Lo Reply

      Obviously he loves God but then perhaps he overlooked in loving his neighbor. Loving God alone doesn’t guarantee salvation. The commandment is to love that God with all your heart, strength and soul and to complete that love is to love thy neighbor as thy self. The Scripture also said that to say you love God and failed to love your brethren is a lie.

  3. Alicia Hayes Reply

    I had one person want to know who answers the questions sent in, and how do we know they are fact?

  4. Human Being Reply

    “Jesus never appeared to him–that the man subconsciously or deliberately made up the story.” Extrapolate this to every religious person ever.
    “God spoke in riddles even to the prophets.” You know what normal people call people who speak in riddles? We call them assholes.

  5. Roger Reply

    Most of my younger life I was pretty ambivalent about religion. My Mother was one who never went to church but could quote the bible verse for verse. As kids, my siblings ad I were never asked or forced to go to church However, when I was 30 yrs old I had a dream one night. In the dream I found myself seated in a Catholic Church. I had never even been in a Catholic Church but I could see the stations, the altar and the tabernacle. A I looked around the church I noticed that it was packed, not a single seat to be had. Then, it started to rain on me. It was a kind of warm rain. I looked around and I was a little embarrassed because I was the only one it was raining on in inside the church. Then I heard a voice. The voice said “Look up.” When I looked up I saw that the rain was coming out of the most beautiful yellow light. This light and the warm rain were penetrating my very body. Then the voice said “Lift up your hands” I lifted my hands and that is when the dream ended. Since then I went on to join the Lutheran church and I was a member there for 25 yrs. All of this time I really never felt quite comfortable in the Lutheran religion. I felt something deep with in me was missing. I Became a member of the choir, worked on various committees, in all I was very active. When ever something about the Catholic Church would be mentioned my ears always perked up. Then,12 years ago, I became seriously ill. I went to the doctor and was diagnosed with end stage Pulmonary Fibrosis. I was told that I would basically deteriorate until the end, about 6 months. I found out that I may have a chance of getting a lung transplant but that the waiting list was so long that I would never make it that long. Just the same I inquired, took all of the tests and to make a long story short was put on the list. I was told it would take 6 to 24 months to find lungs. While all of this was going on I started watching a Catholic program at nights since it was very hard for me to sleep and I learned a lot just from watching. I started saying the rosary. After being on the list for 4 months I went to one of my regularly scheduled appointments. After the examination, the doctor said to me. “We have to find you lungs fast!” I was so weak, I should have been in a wheel chair but pride wouldn’t allow me. Shortly thereafter, one night. I was watching a Catholic program and was kind of drifting in and out of sleep. I started saying the rosary, then I started singing it, accompanied with “Jesus Heal me” in my own made up song. About a week later, Both of my sons were gone, it was Friday, August 13th. 2004. The anniversary of one of the apparitions at Fatima. It was around 3:00 PM when I got a call from the Hospital telling me to get there right away that they had found lungs for me. I went there, got the lung transplant and was back home in 4 days time. So finally, 9 years after the transplant, and much study, I decided to enroll in RCIA. When I was confirmed at Easter vigil last year, I knew I had come home. I had no discomfort whatsoever. So I guess my advice to anyone who thinks they are being called is, be bold. Don’t hold back. There is a lot more to this story, like, some things that happened right before surgery and the day I got the call. If anyone wants to hear them please let me know. God bless to all.

    1. Fabiola Yanez Reply

      I want to hear!

    2. Kelly Reply

      What an amazing story you have to share. God bless!

    3. anita cruzada depaz panisa Reply

      welcome home brother roger, God really made the way, God bless you

    4. Vicki Reply

      I like your story but don’t understand why you joined the Lutheran church after your dream was about being in the Catholic church. You probably could have saved yourself all that pain & heartache.

  6. Marvin Reply

    I know of Denominations wer they came from they were excommunicated from the Church and that’s why they are it. but ther r some whom they excommunicated due to infallible reasons. that’s why there are true christians also under it. we have to have inter religious communication

  7. Jim Reply

    I would like to hear more of the story, Roger

  8. Kevin Reply

    Well all I can say is that man really must have seen God. It doesn’t matter if you are christian at all. On the day of judgement all that will be seen by God is if you followed what you thought was right.”Anyone who knows what is right and goes against it,commits sin”. Its as simple as that. There are many people who don’t even know who Jesus is and who never got an opportunity to meet someone who knew him(consider the remote tribes in Africa). It doesn’t mean that they will go to hell right?That is not how God is.Christians are blessed people who have been selected by God himself. Its much easier to reach eternal glory for a christian compared to others..

  9. Mary Reply

    I I would like to hear more too. Very inspirational, thank you for sharing

  10. Millicent Namusonge Reply

    I would like to hear more Roger.

  11. albert gador Reply

    Its nice may the bless you we want to hear more

  12. albert gador Reply

    Its nice may God bless you we want to hear more

  13. Brandon Young Reply

    Thanks Roger.

  14. Pili Sison Reply

    To HUMAN BEING that commented “assholes”, May God have mercy on your soul..

  15. juliet obinwa Reply

    Am proud to say this, we catholic are bless wit so many things,but it hat when u see ur follow catholic joining another church all in the name of miracle. Roger thank for sharing that wonderful story,pls we want to hear more

  16. Scott Risser Reply

    Paul tells Timothy to study to show yourself approved of God. Studying is a journey. It took me over a decade of study to go from a very anti-catholic upbringing to the fullness and beauty of the faith. The journey makes you ready. If God had just said do this, you would become a C+E catholic and meet the minimums. When you embrace the faith, you live it openly with zeal and love. God guides the journey if we are open to looking for him.

  17. Daniel Best Reply

    But God also says vengeance is His and you are saved through Jesus

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