When I was little, I was always confused when passages like this were read. My little kid-brain always – like clockwork – mistook the word Gentile for gentle. You can imagine my concern when the lyrics of “Gentile or Jew, servant or free, Woman or man, no more” rang through the speakers during the Communion Hymn, “One Bread, One Body.” What, we’re not gentle any more? I’m so confused…
So, imagine my amusement upon opening up the Book of Romans to see St. Paul’s language and the many distinctions he makes about the Jews and Gentiles. (I may have giggled a little at the recollection of this memory.)
The distinctions he makes between Gentile and Jew was not to parade the attitude of, “we’re better than the Gentiles,” but to remind the Jews that, although they are God’s chosen people, the Gentiles are not ignored or forgotten. But by merit of Christ’s Resurrection, all who believe in Christ, whether Gentile or Jew, are all included in the Body of Christ and counted among His people.
This is indeed the basis for Romans. For, why else would St. Paul travel to Rome and then again on to Spain to share the heart of Christ with others – if not to remind the Gentiles of this very fact?
This distinction is seemingly unnecessary now, as we don’t classify one another as Gentile or Jew. However, I propose that this mindset still occurs - that “us” versus “they” mentality. It is tempting to become prideful and set ourselves apart from others who think differently than us. We may think that we are better because we, as Catholics, have the fullness of the truth. But rather, St. Paul calls us to “become a servant… to show God’s truthfulness” Romans 15:8. This is how Christ came to show His love. This is how we too must serve each other – whether“Gentile or Jew,” woman or man, rich or poor, we are all God’s children; we are all one body of Christ. Regardless of the differences in thought and belief.
May we always remember to share the Good News of Christ with all we encounter. May we never separate ourselves out of pride from those who need to hear the Gospel the most and glorify God with our praises despite the crowd we are surrounded by. It is our authentic example that will lead others to seek Him.
Have you ever experienced this “us” versus “they” mentality in conversations with others or in your own attitude? Take some time today and humbly pray for the ability to encounter all of God’s people as brothers and sisters and pray specifically for those far from Christ.