The Most Inclusive Religion
Fourth Sunday of Easter (Easter4B), Apr. 29, 2012
By Fr. Phil Bloom
Podcast of the Sunday Readings
Sunday Bible Study Questions
Lecturas y Comentarios
New American Bible
Prayer of the Hours
Bottom line: Because of Jesus, we belong to the most inclusive religion: reaching not only the most remote corner of the globe, but also the most remote corner of the human heart.
This Sunday Jesus tells us that he is the Good Shepherd who willingly lays down his life for his sheep. Then he adds:
"I have other sheep who do not belong to this fold. These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice and there will be one flock, one shepherd."
Who does Jesus want in his flock? The answer is simple: Everyone! St. Paul states that God "wills everyone to be saved and come to knowledge of the truth." (1 Tim 2:4 NAB)
Christianity came from a Jewish matrix, but rapidly embraced Samaritans, Greeks, Ethiopians, Celts (a.k.a. Galatians), the people of distant India, etc. Each Sunday we profess our belief in the "Catholic Church." "Catholic" means universal, but it means something even more profound. St. Cyril of Jerusalem said that the Church "deserves the title Catholic because it heals and cures unrestrictedly every type of sin that can be committed in soul or in body."
Jesus wants to embrace people not only in the diversity of their cultures, but also in our weaknesses. Jesus and the Church he founded is completely inclusive. Jesus wants everyone - and so do we.
If you were to ask what the most inclusive religion is, the answer would have have to be the religion of Jesus - the Church he founded.
One way we express this inclusiveness, this universality is by a collection we take up each year at this time. It is called the Annual Catholic Appeal and it is our way of reaching out to those all our brothers and sisters: children, youth, married couples, divorced, seniors, street people, the homeless, people struggling with addictions, the imprisoned - no one stands outside the embrace of Jesus. And we want them, we need them as part of Jesus' Body - the Church. Because of Jesus, we belong to the most inclusive religion: reaching not only the most remote corner of the globe, but also the most remote corner of the human heart.
You have probably heard the phrase, "think globally, act locally." We are part of a global Church, but we live that reality locally. --