"Jesus sent these men on mission as the Twelve, after giving them the following instructions: 'Do not visit pagan territory and do not enter a Samaritan town. Go instead after the lost sheep of the house of Israel' " (Mt 10:5-6). Although Jesus reluctantly delivered a Canaanite woman's daughter from the devil, He did not proclaim God's kingdom to her (Mt 15:26-28). Therefore, the early Christians believed that life in Christ was for Jews only. The Old Testament prophecies about saving the nations were thought to refer only to the Jews scattered throughout the world. After all, three thousand were baptized at the first Christian Pentecost, and they were all Jews. However, when Peter was led by the Holy Spirit to preach the gospel to Cornelius and his household, this appeared contrary to Jesus' seeming plan for Christianity only for Jews (Acts 10:1ff).
This situation was further complicated by the conversion to Christ of Gentiles in Antioch of Syria (Acts 11:20ff). Then Barnabas was sent by the Jewish Jerusalem Church to investigate these irregularities. He concluded that these conversions of Gentiles were authentic. Nevertheless, Paul and Barnabas preached the gospel only to Jews until they, as leaders and representatives of the Jewish Church, made the bold decision to preach to the Gentiles (Acts 13:46).
Our reaction to this turn of events should be as was Paul's: "How deep are the riches and the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How inscrutable His judgments, how unsearchable His ways!" (Rm 11:33) We should be awed by the mercy and mystery of God.
Prayer: Father, may I never take for granted that I am included in Your plan of salvation.
Promise: "I solemnly assure you, the man who has faith in Me will do the works I do, and greater far than these." —Jn 14:12
Praise: It was when Maria had fallen into sin and hopelessness that she most experienced God's mercy.
Nihil obstat: Reverend Robert L. Hagedorn, October 9, 2003
Imprimatur: †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, October 14, 2003
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