Let the Scriptures Speak

We Gentiles

Gentiles are coheirs, members of the same body,
and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. (Eph 3:2, 6)

It is safe to say that any group of U.S. Catholics gathered to worship on this feast is a congregation of Gentiles expressing the faith that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah of Israel and our own Lord and savior. If there is ever a time in the Liturgical Year when we should acknowledge our connection with the people of historic Israel and our participation in their faith in a creating and redeeming God, it is on the feast of the Epiphany. 

For centuries, we Gentile messianists managed to live comfortably with imagery that pictured the Israelite tradition to be the discarded husk of Christianity, something that could be symbolized in Renaissance paintings as ancient architectural ruins comprising the grey background of the Christian foreground. Fortunately, we now live in a moment of Church history enlightened by the teaching of Vatican II on the matter of our relationship with Judaism. In Nostra aetate (The Declaration of the Relationship of the Church to Non-Christian Religions, 1965), the teaching Church, drawing on the wisdom of the New Testament, spoke fresh words to our contemporary context of religious pluralism. It is an appropriate moment to reflect on some of its words.

Consider, for example, this, from section four, on Judaism: “The Church cannot forget that it received the revelation of the Old Testament by way of that people with whom God in his inexpressible mercy established the ancient covenant. Nor can it forget that it draws nourishment from the good olive tree onto which the wild olive branches of the Gentiles have been grafted (see Rom 11:17-24).” Epiphany is a good time to remember our roots and the covenant never revoked, for as Paul said regarding his fellow Jews, “The gifts and the call of God are irrevocable” (Rom 11:29-30).


**From Saint Louis University

Kristin Clauson