To the shepherds the angel said, "I bring you good news of glad tidings which will be for all the people." And what is the Good News? "For unto you this day, in the City of David, a Savior is born."
This is the kind of language that the Church of Nice crowd has a deep problem with — the term "Savior." They either misunderstand it or misapply it. They misunderstand it in the sense that they really don't believe humanity stands in need of a savior. Or accepting that fact on its face, they then proceed to completely misapply it in the sense that they accept, in practice, the Protestant notion that we have already been saved, and then further misapply that heresy and conclude that nearly everyone goes to Heaven, as expressed in the spiritual insanity of Hans Urs von Balthasar and propagated by Bp. Robert Barron that we have a "reasonable hope" that all men are saved. No, we don't.
This "reasonable hope" idiocy is the single most destructive, damning, dangerous line of thought floating around the Church today because it disengages a soul from spiritual warfare. Why fight if you win?
The Good News is not that we are saved; the Good News is that we can be saved, whereas prior to that night in Bethlehem and three hours on Golgotha, we could not be.
God loves unconditionally, this is true. But he does not save unconditionally.
Just as a life preserver is thrown from a ship unconditionally, it is up to the drowning person to do his part and grab it — but this second step is the one that misinformed Catholic leaders seek not to stress or even acknowledge. It shouldn't be surprising that the distortion of the Good News that is so present in the Church these days first came into the Church through the Protestant heresy.
A Protestant by the name of Karl Barth, who enjoys some acclaim as being a really smart theologian because he wrote a 13-volume series called "Church Dogmatics," put forth the idea that mankind is saved. This was picked up on by Catholic theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar, who then expanded the idea into the erroneous maxim that we have a reasonable hope that all men are saved — which is the line thrown around like candy by Bp. Barron and his uncritical-thinking followers.
While a Barth-Balthasar-Barronite could stand along a manger scene with you or me and both celebrate the fact that the Good News is a Savior has been born to us, where we would absolutely part company is in what that means. They would hold that as a result of the Good News that we have a reasonable hope that all men are saved. We would hold that as a result of the Good News, everyone has a chance to be saved, a chance they or we did not formerly have.
But sadly, we know from the words of that very same Savior that to hold out such a hope is theological foolery. We know from His Apostle that we need to work out our salvation in fear and trembling, and from His first Pope to always be on guard against the devil who roams about the world like a roaring lion for those to devour. And this is the work of the devil: to take the Good News and distort it, to turn the Good News into bad news by his distortion.
Stand at the creche in your parishes this Christmas and say a prayer, a silent, longing, pleading prayer, that the Christ Child will bring to completion in you the good work He has begun. Realize in all humility that you and I are still awaiting and cooperating with the Good News that we can be saved. Pray for the great grace of perseverance, and for the grace to reject presumption. Pray intensely and fervently. Do not fall prey to the trap that you are already saved and Heaven is a given. Believe and understand the Good News in all its completeness. You can go to Heaven. All you have to do is pick up your cross and follow.
It is altogether fitting that as a newborn, Our Blessed Lord was laid upon the manger's wood as He came into this world. He would go out of this world also being laid on wood. If we wish to follow Him and then be saved, we must do the same.
Salvation is not free; but it is available — and that is the Good News.