“In truth, I see that God shows no partiality.”

4d728183cfc6215fb97bbe073949586f“In truth, I see that God shows no partiality.
Rather, in every nation whoever fears him and acts uprightly is acceptable to him.” Acts 10:34

God shows no partiality. God made us all, God loves us all, equally no less. God shows no partiality. As the lector for the second reading at mass on Saturday evening, I was grateful to proclaim these words, “In truth, I see that God shows no partiality.”

On this Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, we hear these words and are invited to reflect upon them. What does the phrase say to you?

Jesus gets pulled in a lot of different directions. In fact, I am guilty as charged for doing some of this pulling. What makes for a more effective argument than trying to wrap it around Jesus?

Yesterday I heard a cleric on the radio, a rather high-ranking US cleric, talk about some things that might make me think that the unemployed might be lulled into not looking for a job if their unemployment benefits continue. He also talked about how the best weapon against poverty was a two-parent traditional marriage. Does God show partiality to traditional two-parent marriages of those who are gainfully employed? I don’t believe that he was saying that, but that is how it sounded. What was the subtle undercurrent of such a conversation? Was this part of the Jesus tug of war?

Baptism-of-Christ-Giottoi-_1305-1The Baptism of the Lord is an invitation for us consider just who we are in Christ through our baptism. We are all invited, God seeks every one of us. For the baptized, it is an awesome responsibility to live in what the sacrament bestowed upon us. We are not special, we are not loved more by God. We have a responsibility to bring others into our communities. Baptism is a sacrament of initiation into a community of believers, into the Body of Christ.

Every time we start pondering who is in and who is out – or who should be out, we are violating our baptismal covenant. If “God shows no partiality,” then how do we live the same way? This is easier said than done, whether we are paupers or princes of the church.

That is why we all need to stop thinking about what we think, and return our focus on Christ. Jesus shockingly asked John to baptize him, something that John “tried to prevent.” What does Jesus shockingly ask each of us? God is full of surprises, and if we are less partial, we just may encounter a few of those surprises. And in this way, may our baptismal promises be renewed, today and always.

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7 thoughts on ““In truth, I see that God shows no partiality.”

  1. Where does predetermination fit into nonpartiality? I know that it’s downplayed, but is it only Protestants that teach this? I first read it in the instructions in the Spiritual Exercises, but when I ask, no one seems to want to give a direct answer. Can anyone out there explain what exactly it is and why spiritual directors were told not to address it?

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    • Emma, I’m afraid that I do not know enough about the exercises to reply. I will ask some friends to have a look and see what they say. Predetermination is not a teaching of the Catholic church, that I do know. Let’s see – thanks for asking this!

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    • Emma,

      This caution appears in Ignatius’ rules for thinking with the Church, which come at the end of the Exercises and are aimed more at the person just finishing the Exercises than the director. Predestination was a “hot button” issue in those days, and Ignatius was suggesting that wading into such issues should be done cautiously, to avoid falling into heresy, or dragging others into it, and certainly not done to push other peoples’ buttons.

      David Fleming SJ’s translation helps put it into a more modern frame, which I’m going to try to paraphrase: We work out our salvation through a lifetime with God’s grade. Don’t despair; we can change our lives in cooperation with God’s grace. Don’t be presumptuous; we cannot become holy on our own, neither is grace is not incidental to our salvation.

      I hope this helps!

      Michelle

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