Gospel: Jn 5:33-36
John also bore witness to the truth when you sent messengers to him, but I do not seek such human testimony; I recall this for you, so that you may be saved.
John was a burning and shining lamp, and for a while you were willing to enjoy his light. But I have greater evidence than that of John—the works which the Father entrusted to me to carry out. The very works I do bear witness: the Father has sent me.
One feature of the Old Testament which is quite striking is the complete misunderstanding which the Israelites had of God’s plan of salvation and of their role in it. Since they were God’s Chosen People (Ex 19:5; etc.), they conclude that God had no use for other peoples, and consequently they looked down on the rest of the world. But in God’s plan, Israel was merely a kind of spiritual funnel through which “all the communities of the earth shall find blessing,” as God told Abraham (Gen 12:3). The choice of Israel was only the first step in God’s plan. The second step would come with the sending of his Son in a desperate attempt to bring back lost Israel. And the third step would be the sending of Jesus’ disciples throughout the world to “make disciples of all nations” (Mt 28:19). This universalist perspective is occasionally reflected in some prophetic texts such as the one of Second-Isaiah in today’s first reading: “My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.”
Some Catholics are a bit like Israel of old. They cannot easily imagine that God wants to save all human beings, including Buddhists and Hindus, Muslims and animists—yes, atheists and agnostics. These people, too, are God’s Chosen People.