The Perspective of Justice

No Distinction 

The theme of the two readings from John is love, and in the opening prayer we pray that we might “express in our lives the love we celebrate.” The Johannine formula, used in both 1 John and the Gospel, is: “Love one another.”

One might interpret this formula in terms of a false understanding of the Hebrew law: Love those who belong to your group and stay away from outsiders. The reading from Acts, however, makes it clear that we are to love everyone without exception, for “God shows no partiality”and we are to pattern our love after God’s love.

The generosity of the Spirit surprised the circumcised believers accompanying Peter. They had grown up believing that God favors some people over others.

They are not unlike the people of our day who look down on others, regarding as inferior all those whom they consider “Gentiles” (= outsiders): African Americans, Mexican Americans, Asian Americans, Native Americans, women, gays, the handicapped, the poor. Such favoritism does not bind the Spirit of God.

The Spirit will rescue the “insiders” from their hidden atheism by revealing God’s love to everyone. Liberation for the “outsiders” will also come from the Spirit, not from any action by the “insiders.”

We cannot in truthfulness call upon that God who is the Father of all if we refuse to act in a brotherly way toward certain men, created though they be to God’s image.

A man’s relationship with God the Father and his relationship with his brother men are so linked together that Scripture says: ‘He who does not love does not know God’ (1 Jn 4:8).

The ground is therefore removed from every theory or practice which leads to a distinction between men or peoples in the matter of human dignity and the rights which flow from it.

As a consequence, the Church rejects, as foreign to the mind of Christ, any discrimination against men or harassment of them because of their race, color, condition of life, or religion.

Vatican II, Declaration on the Relationship of the Church
to Non-Christian Religions, 1965: 5.

 

Gerald Darring

 

**From Saint Louis University

Kristin Clauson