What Do You See When You Look at a Stranger?

Feast of St. Andrew, the Apostle

Rom 10:9-18 / Mt 4:18-22

There is something in us human beings that inclines us time after time to define one another as either insiders or outsiders. Sometimes the distinction is racial or ethnic, sometimes it’s religious, sometimes the dividing line is economic or educational or political, or slave versus free. But whatever the cause, the lines are always there and firmly drawn. This kind of thinking has even invaded the Church at times. It was not until 1839 that a pope definitively condemned slavery. It was not until the end of Vatican Council II that the Church finally rejected the idea that there could be no salvation outside its boundaries.

St. Paul rejected that kind of thinking 2000 years ago, as we hear in today’s epistle. “There is no difference between Jew and Greek; all have the same Lord, rich in mercy to all who call upon Him.” It certainly does take a long time for that truth to trickle down to the rest of us! Yet the words of Jesus in the Gospels are full of that very insight. It makes us wonder how much of the rest of Jesus’ message we may have been missing!

Jesus asks us to look at one another — without exception — through God’s eyes, and to see in each human being either a brother or a sister, a beloved child of God like ourselves, a stumbling wayfarer very much like ourselves. He asks us to extend to each of God’s children the same compassion which God our Father extends to us every day without fail.

How can we say no? Very simply, we cannot!

  • moniconnects

    “Vatican Council II…finally rejected the idea that there could be no salvation outside its boundaries.”

    Correctly understood, Vatican II NEVER rejected that idea, and it is STILL the teaching of the Church. (See Catechism, #846) There was no change of Church teaching, because as the Catechism goes on to say (#847), “This affirmation is not aimed at those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and his Church.” And it never was.

  • jgeleney

    Moniconnects: you fail to post the remainder of paragraph #847 that says: “Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience—those too may achieve eternal salvation.”
    The paradox is this: yes, salvation is “from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body” but those who seek God outside the church also can attain salvation. What Vatican II is basically rejecting is a requirement for an explicit membership in the Church as a requirement for salvation. In this sense, Msgr. Clark is correct, because there is salvation outside the explicit boundaries of the Church.