The Jews have returned from the Exile. This beautiful poem by “Third Isaiah” represents God as speaking to his people about their emergence from slavery to become a people living in His glory. He calls Jews of the “diaspora,” the spread of Jews throughout the world. He calls the “nations,” that is, the tribes of Jews. All will gather at Jerusalem to celebrate and praise God. And not only Jews, but Arab tribes of the east and south will bring riches loaded on camels and dromedaries. Today, most Jews and Christians take these words as metaphors for the experience of God’s glory.
At first glance, it appears that the meaning of the mystery that Paul says was revealed to him is hardly a mystery at all—that Gentiles and Jews both share in God’s grace. (The word Gentile, of course, means any non Jewish person.) But Paul means more, he means that the Church as an institution will consist of Jews and Gentiles. Christianity may have begun as a movement within Judaism, but the opened mystery reveals that Christianity has become something new, the Church, and the Church is unlimited, universal. Elsewhere Paul calls it, “the body of Christ.”
© Arthur H. Cash