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Pastor’s Corner 8.20.2023

Redeemer of All

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

In the First Letter to Timothy, St. Paul writes that God “desires all to be saved and come to the knowledge of truth.”  The readings from this weekend’s Mass touch on the theme of God’s universal salvific will.  He wants all to be saved, but sadly the Gospels also tell us that many will not be saved, they will reject God’s offer of salvation.

The first reading from the prophet Isaiah speaks of foreigners (read it as non-Jews) who join themselves to the Lord will be welcomed on the holy mountain, for God’s temple is a “house of prayer for all peoples.”  It expresses God’s desire to draw-in not only the Jews, but through the Jews, the entire world to worship the one, true God.

In the second reading from the Letter to the Romans, St. Paul hopes that his ministry to the gentiles will somehow make “his race,” i.e. the Jews, jealous and somehow lead to their salvation. Paul says that the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable and expresses his hope that his race will receive mercy and embrace the good news of salvation. Again, the theme is God’s desire to draw the whole world to Himself.

Lastly, in the Gospel, Jesus praises the Canaanite woman, a non-Jew, considered by many of Jesus’ contemporaries to be a woman outside of God’s saving promise, for her great faith.  Again, the focus is on God’s saving grace extending beyond the bounds of the Chosen People of Israel and inviting all to believe and come to the knowledge of truth. 

In the document, Dominus Iesus, written in 2000, the Church reasserts that Jesus Christ is the only Redeemer of all people. The Holy Spirit and his impact are inseparable from redemptive mission of Jesus Christ. There is no dual plan of salvation — one for people outside the Church and another for Christians. While God created every human being for the purpose of sharing eternal life with Him in heaven, salvation is not automatic. If people are saved, it is through the merits of Jesus Christ, whether that be in ways known to men or “in ways known to [God] himself” (Ad gentes 7). Just as the Lord used ancient Israel to draw the pagan world to the one, true God, the Lord now calls the Church to be the instrument of salvation to announce the Gospel to all the world. 

Sincerely yours in Christ Jesus, the Way, the Truth and the Life,