The Catholic Community  of St. John Neumann
A Christian Church of the Catholic Tradition
Califon, NJ

Pastor's weekly Writing


Dear Friends,
      As our nation is grappling with racial tensions once again, and our political pundits are busy giving varied opinions and solutions, we can learn many wonderful lessons from the Scripture readings of this Sunday. By declaring through the prophet Isaiah (the first reading), “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples,” God reveals the truth that in His eyes there is no distinction among human beings on the basis of race, caste or color.  The long-expected Messianic kingdom was intended not only for the Jews but for all nations as well. Today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 67) rejects all types of religious exclusivity: "Let all the peoples praise You, O God; …For You judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon the earth, so that Your saving power may be known among all the nations." In the second reading, Paul explains that, although the Jews were the chosen people, most of them denied the promised Messiah, and, consequently, God turned to the Gentiles who received mercy through their Faith in Jesus. In the Gospel story, Jesus demonstrates that salvation was meant for the Gentiles as well as for the Jews by healing the daughter of a Gentile woman as a reward for her strong Faith.
     Overemphasis on Difference can blind us to our common humanity. Our human instinct, most of the time, is to erect protective barriers between ourselves and those who we perceive as different from us. Instead of respecting differences, certain attitudes and rhetoric can devalue and stigmatize them. Jean Vanier, the world renowned philosopher and theologian, stated: “It is the human heart and its need for communion that weakens the walls of ideology and prejudice. It leads us from closedness to openness, from illusion of superiority to vulnerability and humility.”
      The best way to reduce the harmful exclusion that so many people experience today would be to have the attitude of Jesus who taught us the expansive and universal nature of the “Kingdom of God,” in contrast with the theory that salvation was offered first to the Jews and only then to the rest of the world.  Although God set the Hebrew people apart as His chosen race, He included all nations in His plan for salvation and blessed all families of the earth in Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3). This universalist theme, proclaimed in today’s Scripture readings, is something we need to reclaim in the present disturbing trends caused by some who assert superiority over the inherent value of all peoples. Jesus teaches us not mere tolerance, but acceptance and understanding people who are different.
      Our parish community has been a model of this. Let us continue this good tradition of being a welcoming and hospitable community.

Your brother in Christ,

Fr. Abraham Orapankal