One thing common in all the readings today is the relationship between God’s chosen people, the Jews and the non-Jews, the gentiles. Prior to the Babylonian exile, the people of God saw themselves as a people specially chosen by God, so dear to Him. They were the ones who know God and were deserving of salvation, while the non-Jews were the outsiders destined to be damned. After the Babylonian captivity, the people of God had mixed up with the outside world. They had seen goodness in them as well. Their emphasis started shifting that the other nations also have knowledge of God.
The exile has clearly shown that God is not exclusively bound to one country or one nation and the pagans can therefore become part of God’s people, provided they are prepared to observe the moral and religious prescriptions of the Jewish law. A day will come when foreigners honoring God and observing his commandments will be escorted to the temple of the Lord and there, will offer their sacrifices and prayers. Nobody will ever feel a stranger in the house of God. The temple will be a place of prayer for all the peoples of the earth. Hence, we hear today: “ And the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord, ministering to him, loving the name of the Lord, and becoming his servants– Them I will bring to my holy mountain and make joyful in my house of prayer… For my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.”
In the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ, he required faith from both the Jews and the gentiles alike. Jesus excluded no one from benefitting from His ministry of love. In our Gospel reading today, Jesus was outside of the Jewish frontiers, in the region of Tyre and Sidon. There, a Canaanite woman came asking Jesus to heal her daughter. Jesus made her to demonstrate her faith before her request was granted. That non-Jewish woman shows strong faith in Jesus and her daughter was cured. The “true-children” are those who have faith in Jesus, whether Jew or Gentile. The mission of Jesus brings about the reconciliation between Jews and gentiles. In John 10:16, Jesus tells us: “I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock, one shepherd.”
Today, St. Paul tells us about God’s plan of salvation for all, for both Jews and Gentiles. God brings good out of evil, since the rejection of the gospel by the Jews presented an opportunity for the gentiles. The story may not be finished, since there is no reason why in due time, the Jews might not accept the gospel. The offer of salvation through the gospel of Jesus Christ is made to all. Like St. Paul and the apostles, let us dedicate ourselves to the spread of the Kingdom, reconciling all peoples in Christ. Neither should we write off anyone as undeserving of salvation, nor should we give up on anyone. In the case of St. Paul, he remains confident that there would be final salvation for Israel, even in their rejection of the gospel. This is part of the divine mystery, which refers to the plan of God that is not accessible to mere human reasoning, but which is part of his special revelation. This mystery was revealed to St. Paul, how God’s promises are dependable and irrevocable. In his mercy, God grants the second chance to all. This is what St. Paul means when he says that God has imprisoned all in disobedience that he might have mercy on all.
We, too should not look down on anyone as undeserving of mercy and salvation. For that reason, we should continue to reach out to all, and adopt the attitude of God. As God is the center of our lives, so is he the center of life for others. As we show great love, which we have for our people, we should as well, show such love to those who are not our immediate members. We should be like St. Paul, as we saw last Sunday, who as he extended the love of God to non-Jews, demonstrated how much love he had for his fellow Jews. That is why he mourned for his own people, who turned away from their great privileges, revealed in Jesus Christ (Romans 9:1-5). May God give us a universalistic outlook to see him present in the totality of creation, now and forever. Amen.