The Responsorial Psalm promises the Messiah: “I will give you all nations for an inheritance” (Psalm 2).
The truth of Christ can enlighten and shine through every culture on earth. Christ’s love can transform and bring to perfection every human endeavor. All of creation has been redeemed by Jesus, and all of creation can be the medium through which his glory shines. Jesus and the Church say with the Roman poet: Nihil humanum mihi alienum puto: “I see nothing human as foreign to me.”
1 John 3: 22 to 4:6 warns us against thinking that what can be already is. We look for the good in everything human, but we still have to “test the spirits to see whether they belong to God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” If we reject nothing, then when we accept anything it means nothing. We have to distinguish between truth and falsehood, good and evil, right thinking and wrong thinking. How can we know the difference?
The first thing to look for is love. “Those who keep his commandments remain in him, and he in them.” God’s commandment is that we should “love one another.” But his commandment is also, “we should believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ.” We have to bear in mind, however, that John was writing specifically to the Christian community. We do not judge non-Christians by a faith they have not received, or have received only on a level deeper than words (see December 28).
A test for conscious Christians, however, is whether they “acknowledge Jesus come in the flesh.” Christians find Jesus in the down-to-earth reality of life and worship in his body on earth, the Church. They embody his truth and love in the concrete expressions of daily life. A “spirituality” too snooty to express itself in the physical actions of “religion” or to accept identification with a sinful human community is not the spirituality of the Incarnate God.
Matthew 4: 12-25 shows God’s divine optimism about the human race and his confidence in the winning power of grace. When John is arrested Jesus “withdraws” to Galilee to preach to a “people who sit in darkness… in a land overshadowed by death.” He follows his own later advice to his disciples, “When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next” (Matthew 10:23). We should never presume that any person, group, culture or milieu is unable to hear God’s word — if we live it and present it as we should. God’s promise is, “I will give you all nations for an inheritance.”
Initiative: If you want to know Jesus, accept him as universal Savior. Be an evangelizer. Offer Jesus to everyone you deal with by the consistent witness of a life only faith in him can explain.