Catholic Social Doctrine: The Communion of Nations
No. 430) All nations are to find unity not through unbelief, not through their own efforts, but though faith in God who is the Father of all humankind.
God's revelation to man continued: in the patriarchs, in Moses, and the Prophets. The message was particular, but universal in its particularity. "Little by little . . . the conviction grows that God is at work also among other nations." (Compendium, No. 430) "Blessed be my people Egypt, and the works of my hands Assyria, and my inheritance, Israel." (Isaiah 19:25)
Israel is not the only nation in God's mind. While historically Israel has a unique place, it is not the only nation which is the subject of God's merciful love.
Israel's prophets intimate that the particularity of Israel's election will spill over to become universal in scope: "In days to come, the mountain of the LORD'S house shall be established as the highest mountain and raised above the hills," prophesied Isaiah.
"All nations shall stream toward the Lord's house," God's temple, Isaiah continues. One might believe that Isaiah, like Jesus, spoke not of a physical building, but the temple of which he spoke was the temple of his body. (John 2:21)
And "many peoples shall come and say: 'Come, let us climb the LORD'S mountain, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may instruct us in his ways, and we may walk in his paths.' For from Zion shall go forth instruction, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and impose terms on many peoples. They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; one nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again." (Isaiah 2:2-3)
Elsewhere, Isaiah speaks of God's universal plans: "I come to gather nations of every language; they shall come and see my glory. I will set a sign among them; from them I will send fugitives to the nations: to Tarshish, Put and Lud, Mosoch, Tubal and Javan, to the distant coastlands that have never heard of my fame, or seen my glory; and they shall proclaim my glory among the nations. They shall bring all your brethren from all the nations as an offering to the LORD, on horses and in chariots, in carts, upon mules and dromedaries, to Jerusalem, my holy mountain, says the LORD, just as the Israelites bring their offering to the house of the LORD in clean vessels. Some of these I will take as priests and Levites, says the LORD. As the new heavens and the new earth which I will make shall endure before me, says the LORD, so shall your race and your name endure. From one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, All mankind shall come to worship before me, says the LORD." (Isaiah 66:18-23)
It is this particularity of the election of Israel which intimates a universal message which become even more particularized--in one God-man Jesus--and yet so universal as to extend to the ends of the earth, even beyond history.
Indeed, one might even say that Jesus is become Israel. Hosea says, "when Israel was a youth I loved him, and out of Egypt I called My son." (Hosea 11:1) Jesus whom the Father loved fled to Egypt and remained there until Herod's death, so that "what was spoke by the Lord the prophet [Hosea] might be fulfilled, saying 'Out of Egypt did I call my son.'" (Matt. 2:14-15) Jesus is Israel. The Church, which is Christ's body, is the New Israel.
It is this universality, this Catholicism, which is central to the Church's understanding of sacred history, of man's history, and of her duties to all mankind and mankind's nations and political communities. It is a deep stream in her social teaching, and it is one that requires us to demote those particularities which might otherwise divide us if we placed too much importance on them: our nation, our culture, and our race. These particularities are ordered under the universality of the Church's message.
Andrew M. Greenwell is an attorney licensed to practice law in Texas, practicing in Corpus Christi, Texas. He is married with three children. He maintains a blog entirely devoted to the natural law called Lex Christianorum. You can contact Andrew at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Old Testament, Noah, Covenant, Creation, Nations, International, political order, community of Nations, communion, international relations, Andrew Greenwell, Esq.
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