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Are you ecumenical?

An eleven-year old girl from St. Matthew’s parish belonged to their group of girl scouts. Like all of them, she would “sell Girl Scout Cookies” to people in her neighborhood. She knocked at one door and asked the woman: “Would you like to buy some cookies?” The lady responded. “Oh no, dear, I am a diabetic.” “That’s all right,” answered the girl scout. “Lots of Protestants are buying them.”

When Pope St. John XXIII called for a Second Vatical Council in 1962, he declared that it would be an Ecumenical Council. The word ‘ecumenical’ comes from the Greek word for ‘household’ and so meant that the Council would be open to the whole world. Because of Vatican Council II, an ecumenical movement began in the Church with the desire and attempt to unite all baptized Christians. The Council then went further to consider the Catholic Church’s relation to people of all peoples of the world—believers and non-believers alike.

The Scripture Readings this Sunday very clearly indicate the desire of God to bring into His household not only the Israelites who are the Chosen People but people of every race and nationality. He says in the 1 st Reading : “The foreigners who join themselves to the Lord ... them I will bring to my holy mountain and make joyful in My house of prayer, for My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.”

Why should this not be so? We believe that God is Father and Creator of all persons. Each one is His image and likeness. Yet, some claim that God will ultima tely save those who are baptized. Some go even further and hold that only Catholics can be saved but not Protestants or Jews or Muslims or any unbaptized person. This attitude contradict s both the teaching of our Faith and religious common sense.

As we recently saw on the Feast of the Transfiguration, Moses and Elijah appeared with Jesus in glory. We have no indication that they were baptized! What about Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob whom Jesus claimed to be alive and so to have experienced the resurrection of the just? Moreover, would it make sense for God the Father to have created the 8 billion children currently in the world a nd then offer only 2 billion Christians the possibility of heaven? The Catechism of the Catholic Church instructs us. “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 who, moved by grace, try in their actions to do His will as they know it through the dictates of their consci ence—those too may have eternal salvation.”

Some may think that this means “all religions are equal” or that there is some “generic God”. Rather, we believe that Jesus is the Savior of the world and that every person is capable of salvation through Christ and by means of His Death and Resurrection . St. Paul make this clear in the 2 nd Reading when he speaks of God bestowing His mercy on Jews and Gentiles alike, allowing them to have been disobedient so that “He might be merciful to all.”

In the Gospel passage, Jesus encounters a Canaanite woman—a non-Jew—who seeks healing for her daughter. Jesus tells her He has come only for the lost sheep of the house of Israel. But, when the woman perseveres and demonstrates belief in Him, Jesus joyfully sees her faith and rewards it with the cure of her daughter. The Responsorial Psalm highlights the desire of God which is meant to be ours as well: “O God, let all the nations praise you!” So, may we, one day, have this desire fulfilled as we all meet in the household of God.

Father Kirlin