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LAITY IN THE CHURCH - page 14 / 21





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assembly.  The Word, then, should be made to reach people precisely where they find themselves, so that their initiation into Christ's mystery can be furthered by more "catholic" assemblies.

Have we forgotten the universalism of faith?  Have we lost ourselves in the details of "how to do" and "what not to do" and forgotten the essential things:  the mystery of Jesus Christ, the Man-God, the real secret to our mission?  Have we left Him out?  After the exile, the Jewish diaspora did make a great effort to open to the world around them, but it was proselytism.  There was no question of leading Gentiles to the living God, for mem­bership in the Chosen People was not possible.  Yet Christ made the need for univer­salism clear.  The more profound the sense of univer­sal­ism among the people of God, the more likely they will be to wel­come all religious searches that lead to God.

Universalism of faith and missionary task go together.  A return to Antioch will show this.  Antioch was a watershed in the Church.  Prior to that, Christians were mainly converted Jews, and if prospective Gentile converts failed to submit to the Mosaic Law they were not accepted.  But in Antioch, the third most important city of the Roman Empire, Gentile converts came in sufficient numbers to pose a problem to the local community.  The

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