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Theology for the common man

20 Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sunday, August 20, 2017

The message of salvation in Jesus Christ goes beyond the boundaries of the nation of Israel. And although the nation of Israel has the greatest access to this salvation, as Jesus was a part of that nation as well as historical and cultural preparation to accept this message, salvation itself is not guaranteed automatically. It requires grateful acceptance and cooperation as well as a welcome openness to others from outside of the Jewish cultural circles. This is the essence of each mission: joyfully sharing the Good News with others, as that which is good cannot be reserved for the few – it must be shared and cultivated. This understanding of Christ’s mission of salvation as not limited to the chosen people is present in this Sunday’s gospel. The first reading speaks of allowing foreigners to worship God, “to serve Him, to love the name of the Lord and to be His servants”. And when they come to Him with ardor and keep His commandments, “their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon [His] altar”. The psalm’s refrain calls all nations to celebrate God. St. Paul called himself the pagan’s disciple, as by calling pagans to convert, he wished to awaken healthy rivalry in faith amongst his fellow countrymen, so that they might “lead at least a few to salvation”. Jesus, while talking with a pagan Samaritan, believes in the purity of her heart and allows her to partake in the fruits of His salvation – at first by healing her daughter, and then her heart. We were all pagans long ago, but thanks to the mercy of Christ we have been mercifully allowed to share His fruits of salvation. Let us show him our gratitude by leading good lives rooted in faith.