The readings today are about how people become persons good enough to be saved. The Pharisee in the Gospel seemed to think one became a good person by avoiding eating pork and shrimp, and by not playing softball on Saturdays.
For King David and the sinful woman in the Gospel the way to goodness was in turning heart and soul to God.
But being a good person, like loving, is a many splendored thing. I have a priest friend with many people come to him for spiritual guidance because they want to be more saintly. I’m no good at that. I prefer what St. James said about being religious. It consists in helping widows and orphans in their need, and by keeping oneself unstained by the world.
I often hear people say that Vatican II didn’t change any of our beliefs, but it seems to me that it did. Back in 1950 in our seminary theology course we did the Grace Tract, and it distinguished between being naturally good and being supernaturally good. We were taught that un-baptized people could perform naturally good acts, but those good acts couldn’t earn a supernatural reward in heaven.
I told my Dad that at Christmas time, but he said, “I don’t believe that. You and I know good generous men who haven’t been baptized, and are you saying heaven isn’t for them, it’s only for biddies mumbling away in church? I don’t believe that.”
In 1946 French Jesuit, Henri de Lubac, wrote a book on supernatural life. In it he agreed with my dad, but the Church, banned the book. However, Pope John XXIII invited Father Lubac to be a consulter at Vatican II, and in the Constitution on the Church the council came around to agreeing with him. It wrote