Second Reading: Romans 11:13-15, 29-32
Through A Larger Vision
Has scandal ever changed your mind about a political or social issue? Why did it change your mind?
11 Let me talk to you Gentiles. Since Jesus sent me to serve the Gentiles, I show off my ministry to you, 14 so I might make some of my people jealous and save some of them. 14 They rejected God's message about Jesus, but everyone else is accepting it. If this is the result, what will happen when they accept the message? Won't it mean life from the dead?
29 God will not take back his call and his gifts to you. 30 You disobeyed God at one time. Now God showed you mercy because these Israelites disobeyed him. 31 Soon, he will show them mercy because he showed you mercy. 32 God lumped all the disobedient people together, so he might show them all mercy.
11 I speak to you, to the Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I glorify my service, 14 if perhaps I can make (someone of) my flesh jealous and I can save some of them. 15 For if their rejection (is) the reconciliation of the world, what (will) their acceptance be but life from the dead?
29 For the (grace-filled) gifts and call of God are irrevocable. 30 Just as you disobeyed God then, but now were shown mercy from the disobedience of these (Israelites), 31 and so these (people) now disobey so that by your mercy they might be shown mercy. 32 For God enclosed all together to disobedience, so that he might show all mercy.
11:14 "(someone of) my flesh" Here Paul referred to the Jews, his own blood (to use an English phrase).
Why did the Jews reject Jesus as the Messiah? Paul faced this question with his audience. If Jesus was God's Chosen, what would happen to his people? These were vexing issues that demanded an answer.
Paul maintained that God had not abandoned the Jews; they were the heirs to the covenants, the Law, and the divine promises (as mentioned last week). Yet, the Gentiles who joined the Church now enjoyed these same benefits. How could the benefits be the same when one group rejected the message as the other group embraced it?
The key to Paul's answer was God's mercy. On the human level, the dichotomy between Jew and Gentile did not make sense. But seen through God's eyes, the dichotomy disappeared. Everyone disobeyed God; all were sinners. God still wished intimacy, so he showed all mercy. In fact, if the Jews had not rejected the message, how could Gentiles have heard it? If they had accepted, Paul seemed to imply, the apostles would have stopped at the borders of Palestine and edges of the Jewish ghettoes that were sprinkled throughout the world. Ironically, Jewish rejection led to mercy shown to the Gentiles when they accepted the message. In other words, early failures to proselytize their countrymen caused their understanding of their mission to expand. The Messianic mission was universal. Jew and Gentile alike were called to God's mercy. If one group caused mercy to be revealed to the other, so be it.
The evil of scandal can have good results. Sometimes scandal opens our eyes to the larger issue. What we sometimes assume should be challenged, so we can grow in understanding. The rejection of the Messiah by the Jews led the apostles in a new direction. From that rejection came a larger vision, mercy for us all.
What has scandalized you lately? Present these scandals before the Lord. Allow him to sort out the important from the unimportant. Pray for great vision so you can understand and act appropriately.