Summary: Even those who are not Christian are being drawn to the light and vision of God in Christ..
Thursday of 5th Week in Course 2014
The people of Israel were called to be a light to the nations. Even in the early books of the Bible, we see this. Abraham was to be a blessing for all peoples. Israel was supposed to be totally faithful to the One God, and her worship was supposed to be so authentic that thousands would be attracted to worship in Jerusalem. But Israel was unfaithful. David had been an orthodox king, but he gave bad example by having several wives. Solomon sought to surpass his father. He must have had something of an inferiority complex, being the son of such a fabulous dad. His wives did not abandon the worship of their national gods, so he erected shrines to all of them, even Moloch, the demon god who demanded the sacrifice of the firstborn. It was a mess, and Solomon paid for it by the fracturing of his kingdom. Instead of drawing the Gentiles to true worship, Israel began to worship the Gentiles’ false gods.
By the time of Jesus, the situation had reversed. Judaism had become turned in on itself. Jesus is here pictured as a kind of new Elijah, visiting the territory of the Gentiles and even healing them. Here Jesus is pictured in a kind of comic scene. Remember that Jews had become xenophobic, shunning even the half-Jew Samaritans. So Jesus parodies them when He encounters the Greek Syrophoenician woman. To her request for an exorcism, he says, using the language of the Jewish leaders: "Let the children first be fed, for it is not right to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs." The woman gives as good as she gets: "Yes, Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children's crumbs." I can almost imaging Jesus laughing as He tells her to go on and enjoy the fruits of her plea–the healing of her daughter.
The popes go on in their encyclical: “The light of faith in Jesus also illumines the path of all those who seek God, and makes a specifically Christian contribution to dialogue with the followers of the different religions. The Letter to the Hebrews speaks of the witness of those just ones who, before the covenant with Abraham, already sought God in faith. Of Enoch “it was attested that he had pleased God” (Heb 11:5), something impossible apart from faith, for “whoever would approach God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him” (Heb 11:6). We can see from this that the path of religious man passes through the acknowledgment of a God who cares for us and is not impossible to find. What other reward can God give to those who seek him, if not to let himself be found? Even earlier, we encounter Abel, whose faith was praised and whose gifts, his offering of the firstlings of his flock (cf. Heb 11:4), were therefore pleasing to God. Religious man strives to see signs of God in the daily experiences of life, in the cycle of the seasons, in the fruitfulness of the earth and in the movement of the cosmos. God is light and he can be found also by those who seek him with a sincere heart.
“An image of this seeking can be seen in the Magi, who were led to Bethlehem by the star (cf. Mt 2:1-12). For them God’s light appeared as a journey to be undertaken, a star which led them on a path of discovery. The star is a sign of God’s patience with our eyes which need to grow accustomed to his brightness. Religious man is a wayfarer; he must be ready to let himself be led, to come out of himself and to find the God of perpetual surprises. This respect on God’s part for our human eyes shows us that when we draw near to God, our human lights are not dissolved in the immensity of his light, as a star is engulfed by the dawn, but shine all the more brightly the closer they approach the primordial fire, like a mirror which reflects light. Christian faith in Jesus, the one Saviour of the world, proclaims that all God’s light is concentrated in him, in his “luminous life” which discloses the origin and the end of history.31 There is no human experience, no journey of man to God, which cannot be taken up, illumined and purified by this light. The more Christians immerse themselves in the circle of Christ’s light, the more capable they become of understanding and accompanying the path of every man and woman towards God.”