By Carol Glatz
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — God chooses certain people not to exclude others, but always to include everyone by way of the missionary and social outreach of his disciples, Pope Francis said.
“This is an important warning for our times, in which ever-increasing currents of separation dig ditches and build fences between individuals and between peoples to the detriment of the unity of humanity, which suffers as a result, and of the body of Christ,” he said at the Vatican Sept. 7.
The gift of the law and the election of the people of Israel described in the Bible are “always in accordance with a universal good and never descend into forms of separation or exclusion,” he said in his speech to members of the Italian Biblical Association and people taking part in the National Bible Week in Rome.
“God never chooses anyone to exclude others, but always to include everyone. God’s election always has this social and missionary dimension,” he said.
The pope explored the conference’s theme of “Covenant and covenants between universalism and particularism” by looking at how some of the different promises God made with particular individuals, for example, with Noah or Abraham, ultimately were about serving the greater good and promoting harmony and unity in the world.
These are themes seen throughout the Old and New Testaments, he said, with the “universalism of God’s love for humanity — no one excluded — and the particularism of election, joined by a unifying characteristic: the irrevocability of God’s gifts and call, his constant and manifold offer of communion.”
God’s covenant with Noah refers to the relationship between humanity and creation, which is “a very serious concern” right now, and it “continues to urge us to use the planet’s resources fairly and soberly,” he said.
The covenant of Abraham is also instructive for today, which is “a time devastated by echoes of death and war,” he said, because “the common faith in one God invites and encourages us to live as brothers and sisters” and work together without violence and deceit to build up the world in genuine peace.
Pope Francis encouraged conference participants “to help God’s people feed on the Word, so that the Bible may increasingly be everyone’s heritage.”