There are many aspects of our religion which today pose no particular problem for us, even though in earlier times they may have been the subject of heated controversy. For example, I doubt that anyone today would maintain that our religion should be limited to only one nationality or one group of people, least of all the Jews. And yet Our Lord’s first disciples were all Jewish, and the vast majority of the first Christians were also Jewish. After Our Lord’s resurrection, many people believed that to be his followers it was necessary to follow completely the Jewish religion with all its laws and regulations. And so for those very early Christians there was no real distinction between Judaism and Christianity.
This misunderstanding is the background of today’s first reading. Tomorrow we will see how the Church moved to correct that situation. But today’s gospel gives us an important insight. Our Lord wants us to know that he and he alone is the source of life for those who follow him. Several weeks ago we heard Our Lord proclaim that: “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son that whoever believes in him may not die but may have eternal life.” Here, the word “world” doesn’t simply refer to the planet Earth but to all its inhabitants of all times past, present and future. The Lord Jesus is the Saviour of all people. Ours is truly catholic, that is, universal religion.
And so today we should have a great sense of solidarity with all people of our faith throughout the world. We believe one doctrine, we follow one moral law, and we celebrate one Eucharist. That unity is the hallmark of our religion. To be Catholic is to be universal in faith, in devotion, and in love.