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What should we say to this? If God is for us, who is against us, he who did not spare his own son, who gave him up for us all, to give us all things with him. This God giving his son, if you are familiar with this kind of language, it's not easy to see exactly what it means. I think one can perceive how God as infinite being manifests, expresses himself, communicates himself to his son. The son is the self-expression of God, he is the eternal, beyond all, and he manifests himself in the creation. In one sense creation is the expression of God, the word of God, but obviously it's a very inadequate one, and human beings are still manifestations of God, very imperfect. And in the son we find the exact image, the full expression of God's being.


It's the idea that he gives himself to his son. He did not spare his own son, but gave him up for us all. Who should bring any charge against God's elect is God. It is God who justifies, who is to condemn. It's a profound sense, you see, and this is really the basis of Christian faith, that God was in Christ. This is a good experience, really, it's an experience of faith, you see. A Christian encounters the Absolute, the only one reality in Christ, that is Christian faith. Others experience it in other ways, but that is the unique Christian experience. As before, it had an overwhelming power, you see, that he transformed it. And he says, it is Christ Jesus who died, who was raised from the dead, who is at the right hand of God, who is the seed for us. And that is the Christian faith again. You see, there's Jesus, he died, he was raised from the dead, and he's now at the right hand of God. And that again is a symbolic expression, of course.


The right hand means to share in the power of that person. The man at the right hand of the king shared in his power. So Jesus is shared in the divine life, the divine power, the divine being itself, which is also love. So, Jesus dies, rises again, and then is totally taken up into the Godhead, you see. Godhead reveals itself as a human being, human life, and then that human life is taken back into the Godhead, totally transformed by it. And, so who shall separate us from the love of Christ, from distress and sadness? And Paul had been through all these things, tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril. He'd been through all these things, and he knew that there was something in him stronger than all these things. And history has shown that that power is there in all situations. People have felt that power, and been able to overcome every kind of violence, of course, concentration camps and torture and whatever.


So it's been proved in people's lives again and again, that in all these things there are more than conquerors. It's in him who loved us. And it's the sense that there's a love greater than anything we can conceive, that that love has been given to us, and that sustains us. That's the great Christian message. I think it's important, you know, to reflect on a passage like this, because it's in the very heart of Christian faith. It's something we all share in some measure, yet we all drain it so much more. But I'm sure that neither life nor death, nor angels nor principalities, nor the present or things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in creation. See, life or death is obvious. We believe that Christ is stronger than either life or death. But angels or principalities or powers, and there the ancient world has its faith in this world beyond the senses, beyond the sense world, the physical world.


There is this whole world of spirit, of angels, powers, gods, and different names for them. But there are psychic powers, cosmic powers, which I call psychic powers, powers which are beyond modern human psychology, which yet are really present and active in our lives. So it's the belief that we go beyond all these powers, and not height, nor depth, nor anything in creation. The sense that faith takes you beyond all the physical and psychic powers in creation, beyond the creation itself, into the presence of God. You see, we're able to separate it from the love of God, that there is tremendous conviction that, you see, that something has come into our life, into human life, that it could totally transform and take us beyond all the powers of this world, and unite us in love to the source of all, to the one reality, to the one truth, and remain with that again until that great mystery which is revealing itself to us. So, as I say, it's a wonderful revelation, Christian faith in love.


The argument in this letter of St. Paul may seem rather obscure at first. His problem, as you know, was this breach between Israel, the Jews, and the Christians. It was a great tragedy, a great problem in the early Church, that Jesus came as a Messiah to Israel, and Israel didn't accept him. And this terrible division took place, and St. Paul felt it very deeply in his own heart. He was a Jew, Israelite, and devoted to the whole tradition of Israel, and yet he found himself separated. So he says, I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. I wish I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen, my race. There's the extent of saying he'd like to be lost himself, in order that they might share this knowledge that he has. They are Israelites. To them belong the sonship, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises.


To them belong the patriarchs, and their race according to the flesh as the Christ. See, Israel had all these gifts of God. It had the covenant in the first place, and the giving of the law, and then the worship of the temple, the promises, and then the sonship and the glory, Israel was called, with the Son, to share the glory of God. So, St. Paul saw this great revelation within Israel, and yet Israel rejects Christ, rejects the Messiah, and he finds himself cut off from the people of his own flesh, the people of his own religion. And then he goes into rather an elaborate argument to show that it's not only Israel according to the flesh, that the sons of Israel, not only the Israelites, but those are sons of the promise, or what we say, sons in the spirit. And perhaps this produces rather an important distinction, because today there's probably so many different religions,


and they're often in conflict with one another, and as long as we see them according to the flesh, we have all these terrible divisions of Hindus, and Buddhists, and Muslims, and Christians, and Jews, and so on. And yet, when we see it in light of the spirit, then we discover there's a hidden unity behind all these different religions. I think that is what's happening today. People are beginning to move out of the limits of their own religion, discover this underlying unity, this revelation of God, which is offered some way to all. So, St. Paul didn't put it quite like this. He himself felt this division. And one of the tragedies was Christianity separated from Judaism, and today we're trying to heal that separation, that wound. We're trying to rediscover the values of Judaism, and I think in all religions we have to discover the values of each religion. Each has its limitations, each has its own cultural setting, and so on, which we may not be able to accept,


but each has its own unique gift from God. The spirit is present in each one. So, if we try to see each religion according to the spirit, Hinduism according to the spirit, Islam according to the spirit, Christianity according to the spirit, then we begin to find a hidden unity, we begin to discover our relation with one another. So, we can all ask, the growth of this, which is growing, as you know, all the time, the growth of this deeper awareness of the underlying unity of religion and discover how we can go beyond separation and differences and open ourselves to one God, one truth, one reality, which is present everywhere. This short reading from St. Paul, this is always the messages of death and resurrection,


it says, take your share of suffering for the gospel and the power of God. Save us and call us for the holy calling. The idea that the grace of God and the gospel should enable us to experience suffering without being overcome by it. Suffering is a great problem in everybody's life, and people are often totally overcome by it, at least for the time, and we can't get rid of it, but to learn how to accept it and to allow the grace of God to work in it, it's a great mystery, a great difficulty, but I think we all learn slowly how to accept suffering, it's the part of the whole sort of growth in life, then. He says, who called us not in virtue of our works, but in virtue of his own purpose and grace. And it's very important to see that this grace to suffer, to endure, is a gift of God, and I think we again and again remind ourselves that we don't have to receive it by our own efforts,


we have to dispose ourselves, prepare ourselves, but we have to be ready to receive it, and it comes as a gift, and some people have found that when they extreme suffering, something comes into their lives that suddenly relieves them and makes, it doesn't take away the suffering, but it makes it bearable if the whole thing suddenly is changed. And then he says, which he gave us in Christ Jesus ages ago, and is now manifest through the upturning of our Saviour Jesus Christ. It's very interesting to see, he gave us in Christ Jesus ages ago, the purpose of God in creation was from the beginning in eternity, each one of us is in the mind of God in eternity, and was manifested through a caring of Christ, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to life through the gospel. So death and resurrection of Christ ultimately takes away death, obviously death still remains for us, but the power of death is overcome, so we're not, don't succumb to death,


we go through death, to resurrection, to life and immortality. So that's the basic message of the gospel, and of Lent really, it's not Lent, it's preparation for Easter, it's learning how to die and rise again, not to suffer and yet to go beyond it. So we all have to ask for the grace to experience it. This reading of St. Paul raises some problems. It says, remember he quoted last time, Jacob I loved, Esau I hated. It comes in the book of Genesis, and it refers of course to the two sons of Isaac, they were twins in the womb, and Jacob was chosen, and Esau was chosen for Edom, the country which was the enemy of Israel. And so Jacob was said to be the one loved by God,


and Esau was said to be hated. And so he said, what should we say then, is there injustice on God's part? And he tries to explain this, but of course it's a real problem, and we have to recognize that the Bible uses language in a very black and white way, it doesn't make the reservations which we would normally make. And to say that God loves somebody and hates somebody else, especially when they've done nothing, when they're still in the womb, is obviously an exaggeration, it's a way of speaking, and taken literally it can be extremely harmful, as you know there has been a doctrine of predestination, that some people are predestined to salvation and others to damnation, and that's totally unacceptable. So he tries to explain it, but it really makes it worse than anything. For he says to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I have mercy,


and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion. And that shows, of course, that the mercy and compassion of God is a free gift. God gives us His love, His compassion, and it's something we can't exactly deserve, it comes to us from His grace. So it depends not on man's will or exertion, but on God's mercy. And that is true, of course, in the whole life of grace, we don't deserve what we get, it comes to us as a free gift, but we have to cooperate with it. And this is the point which the Bible and some theology doesn't often sufficiently allow. There's been a great debate in the church, you know, of grace and free will, and one extreme says that everything is grace, it's pure after God, there's no free will in it, another says it's all free will, God may assist you, but fundamentally it all depends on your own will. And the truth lies between, and it's not very easy to express it. But St. Paul here very much goes to the one extreme, saying it's all the grace of God.


For the scripture says to Pharaoh, I've raised you up for that very purpose of showing my power in you, that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth. Showing his power over Pharaoh to destroy him and his armies and so on. So he has mercy on whom he wills and he hardens the heart whomever he wills. And it says in the text of Exodus, God hardened the heart of Pharaoh. Well, as I say, it's a typical way of speaking, and we can't accept it literally, because it doesn't allow for this freedom. And we have always to say that God's action always depends on human freedom. It's never simply, God never gives grace without any reference to the freedom of the human will, and certainly he never allows a person to fall into sin without the freedom of the will. And I say fall into sin, because we wouldn't say


God doesn't harden anybody's heart, or God doesn't cause anybody to fall into sin. He permits Pharaoh to harden his heart, and he permits a person to fall into sin, that is true. But that is because God respects the free will. And unless we keep clear in our minds this question of the essential freedom of the human will, we make all sorts of mistakes, and we miss interpret the Bible rarely, because you cannot explain the course of human history except on the basis of free will. Why does God permit so much suffering, so much evil, so much tragedy in the world? Except that he allows this freedom of the will, and he allows freedom because love is an effective freedom. You cannot have love without freedom. And if you have freedom, then you have the capacity to sin, to fail, to do wrong. So once we establish what we must, the principle of free will, then we have to interpret the action of God in that context. Grace of God comes to our freedom,


and it's a free gift, but we have to accept it. You have to allow God to work in you. He never works in you totally against your own disposition. In the same way, God allows you to sin, to fail, to refuse the love which you call for, but it's your own free will that is responsible and not the will of God. God doesn't will the death of a sinner, as they say. He doesn't will evil to anyone. So one has to do a rather armed way of interpretation here, and it's a great danger of taking the Bible and interpreting it literally. You get disastrous results from it, and as in history the most appalling things have been done in the name of God and of Christ based on the Bible. When you interpret it, you see, you have to take the whole context of the Bible, and that is why the Church always says you can't interpret the Bible for yourself.


It's a living tradition, and it grew up in Israel, and it was gradually growing all through Israel, and there were many elements in it which were totally unacceptable, as we know. There are so many passages in Psalms no Christian, no decent person could possibly use today when we ask God to destroy people and to kill their wives and their children and all the rest of it. There are many things in the Psalms that no human being should say, but it was part of Israel's development. They went through stages of violence, hatred and so on, and if you take that as the will of God, then you simply lose the truth altogether. So we have to interpret the whole Bible in the context of Christ, you see. Ultimately, we only believe the Bible so far as it refers to and expresses the mind of God revealed in Christ. That is our criterion. And so we see God as love revealing itself in Christ,


and we have to interpret all the words of the Bible in that context. Then we can get truth, and that is why the Church holds that the Bible has to be interpreted by the living tradition. You can't just take it as a book from the past and take it literally. You have to see it as part of the living tradition. And today we understand the Bible in a new way, in innumerable new ways. We've discovered meanings in the Bible which were certainly not known before. And so we ought to learn to interpret in the context of the living tradition which takes account of the world we live in, and for one thing, for instance, we have to interpret the Bible today in India in the light of Hinduism. You can't just ignore Hinduism. It's a revelation of God. There's been a marvellous work of God in India for centuries, and we have to interpret the Bible in that time. We have to see how we understand the Bible in that context. So the context is always changing and growing, and our understanding has correspondingly to grow. And when people stick simply to the literal interpretation


without reference to the cultural tradition to which it belongs, that's what fundamentalism is. You see, you get it in Islam, you get it in Christianity, you get it in Hinduism even. It's where you simply try to interpret an ancient text without reference to the context. You simply isolate it and forget that it belongs to a whole living tradition, a context in which the low, mystical, true meaning is found. So I think we all need to reflect on that. So much harm has been done in the world by taking the Bible literally. See all the Israelites slaughtering all their enemies, and there have been Christian people slaughtering their enemies. The will of God that you should slaughter all your enemies or doing it in the name of God, you see. So we have to be very careful how we understand the Bible. As I say, the ultimate criterion is Christ, and we only know Christ, not simply through the words of the Bible. We know Christ only through the living tradition of the church where we enter into that mystery of Christ


and allow him to guide our minds and our hearts. So it's not a simple matter. It's something that a deep understanding is called for. I'm feeling as before, as we saw, before, against some serious problems, this question of the election and predestination and St. Paul does seem to imply at least that God predestined some people's salvation and some to eternal loss. And he quotes the Genesis, Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated. And we saw yesterday how he said he has mercy on whomever he wills and he hardens the heart of whomever he wills. And I said we have to translate this, we have to see it in the context of the whole Biblical revelation and in the light of the freedom of the human will. We can't take it as it stands


because quite obviously God doesn't harden the heart of anybody. He permits a person to harden his heart and only unless that free will is there then there is no act of God. But now he goes on to say, you will say to me then, why does he still find folks who can resist his will? You see, if you say God hardens people's hearts, how can you help it? But who are you, a man, to answer back to God for what is moulded, say to the mould of why have you made me thus? As the potter will write over his clay. Again, I find it a very unsatisfactory argument as though a human being is like a pot and you can make a pot for good use or you can make it to be thrown away. But a human being is a being with a free will and God doesn't override the free will. You see, once we recognize that, God will permit a person to resist his will, to do what is wrong, but he never compels a person to do what is wrong. And, of course, he always makes the offer of grace


to return to repent. So, the whole argument is very, very dubious and, as I say, one has to see this in the whole context of the biblical revelation. And, of course, at times you notice that Augustine presses this argument very far and Calvin took his service still. There have been many Christians who imagined that God predestined some people to salvation and some to eternal loss. But we would say that God calls everyone to salvation and offers a gift of grace to every human being in some way or other. And you can only lose it if you expose your heart to God, to grace, to love, to truth, whatever way we speak of it. So, we can't accept what if God, to show his wrath to make lowly's power, has endured with much patience the vessels of wrath paid for destruction. It's always surprising how Christians in the past seem to find no difficulty about people


having eternal damnation. All those holy men, like St. Augustine, who signed most of the human race to eternal damnation without a qualm about it. And St. Thomas Aquinas said that half the joy of heaven would be to see the justice of God on sinners, seeing everybody in hell and rejoicing over them. It's very extraordinary. Their psychology was so different from ours that it's difficult to understand it. But, well, we can't talk like that today. So, we have to, like I say, it's really important to know the Bible is the word of God in one sense. God is revealing himself in the Bible, but the Bible has to be understood in the light of Christ, in the light of the whole Christian revelation. That's why the church always says the Bible must be interpreted and it can't be just taken literally as it stands. You see, many people take it literally and that's a terrible doctrine when you allow this to be taken literally. No, it's beyond our power. And then, of course, he goes on with a much more profound view


of this call of the Gentiles, how that, see, all through the history of Israel there had been recognition Israel was a chosen people of God, but the Gentiles also were to be included in Israel. He quotes these various things from the prophets. So, there again, he tends to say that Israel, a remnant remains, but the majority has been rejected, you see. If the Lord had not left us a remnant, we would have fared like Solomon, we would have been made like Gomorrah. So that the Jews had been condemned, behold, I am a stone of rock that will make them fall. St. Paul had very clearly the idea that most of Israel was lost, a few were saved, and that the Gentiles had come in to make up. But again, we can't accept that today, you see. It's been a terrible inheritance. Christians have been persecuting Jews for 2,000 years nearly. In this terrible way,


and rejecting them totally, and saying that they were lost, they were deicides, and so on. And only today we are trying to have a ban on the Jews making that. And it's quite untrue to say that Jews followed the law without faith. The pious Jew has as much faith as a Christian. He believes in the God who gave the law. He doesn't believe in the law by himself. So, you see, we have to criticize the way Christians have related to Jews and to other religions in a scandal all through history. And only today is the Vatican Council beginning to understand the presence of God in other religions. And God is with the Jews. He's not rejecting the Jews. And God is with the Hindus, and with the Buddhists. And there's a presence of God in every human being, and every human being responds to truth, or goodness, or love, or in any way is responding to God, to Christ, to love. And we say, we think so many of these doctrines which are being held in a course of terrible havoc in the world,


a terrible disaster to this miscarriage in other religions and people of other faiths. Paul goes on developing this doctrine of justification by faith, this great theme. And especially, of course, this relation between the Jew and the Gentile. The Jews were offered this grace from Christ, and he didn't accept it. So he says, My heart's desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. I bear them witness they have a zeal for God, but it is not enlightened. And his argument was that the Jew had this great zeal for God, which it always has, but they weren't able to see the Messiah in Christ. That was the whole crux of the matter. And, of course, it's not an easy matter to see today that in the early stages, you see,


Christianity was a Jewish religion. The disciples, they worshipped in the temple and in the synagogue, and Jesus was seen as the Messiah of Israel. And then all these Gentiles, these non-Jews began to come in, and the whole thing began to change. It became a Gentile religion, and the Jews then drew back. They weren't prepared to accept this Gentile religion. And so it was a very difficult problem, and the two split. By the middle of the first century, Spinoff was in full time this time, the split became total between the two. It was really a tragedy in a way that they couldn't have found a way to reconcile Jesus as Messiah with the Jewish tradition. So being ignorant of the righteousness that comes from God and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness, Christ at the end of the door. See, it's not really quite true to say


that a Jew that is trying to establish his own righteousness should read all the Old Testament, and everything is trusting God is how you'll find righteousness. It's never your own. And the difference is, a Jew finds righteousness in Yahweh, in the God of Israel, in his law, and Paul found it in Christ. And you could say that Christ is a deeper revelation of God, but still the revelation remains in the Old Testament. So that was the crux, whether to see Christ as the fulfillment of all religion in Israel, or to remain, as they do still, with the Old Testament, the revelation of God to Moses and the prophets. And then he says, Moses writes, that the man who practices the righteousness which is based on the law shall live by it. The righteousness based on faith says, do not say in your heart, and he goes through various quotations, who will descend into the abyss, who will descend to heaven, and then the word is near you on your lips


and in your heart, that is the word of faith which we preach. That is very near to the deep realm of religion, which we are talking about. You see that the word of God is the same as the scripture, the informal, the reality of God. And so it's very important, the word is near you on your lips and in your heart. Then he says, if you confess with your lips that Jesus is the Lord and be in your heart that God raised him from the dead, who was saved. That's the particular Christian experience, you see, that you discover God dwelling in the heart, which is Christ within, Christ in his death and his resurrection. And that is the unique Christian experience of God. But of course, others discover God dwelling in the heart. The Hindu had a very deep sense, or the Bhagavad Gita, that God, the eternal, dwells in the heart. As you all know, the beautiful image in the Chandogya Upanishad


about a little shrine in the body of every man, there is a little shrine, in the shrine there is this lotus, in the lotus there is a little space. What is that little space in the heart of the lotus? Then it says the whole heaven and the earth and all creation is there because God is in that little space in the heart. So the Hindu, and the Christian, and the Jew, and the Muslim, and the Atheist, all believe that God dwells in the heart. And that is very hot of all religion. And that's what comes out here, that God dwells in the heart. But Paul applies it specifically to Jesus as the sad, wretched, and dreadful. The man bleeds with his heart and is justified and confesses with his lips and is saved. No one who bleeds in him will be put to shame. So it's the Christian experience is Christ dwelling in the heart. And that is a unique experience of God.


We can't deny that others experience God in the heart. We read Kabir's poems and it's overwhelming the sense reading yesterday. I can read it to you if you like. It's so remarkable, this sense of God being in all. And it says the Lord is in me, the Lord is in you, as life is in every seed. And one love it is that pervades the whole world. Few are there who know it. How blessed is Kabir that amidst his great joy he sings. This is the music of the meeting of soul with soul. It's the music of the process of coming in and going forth. So Kabir experienced God in this marvellous way dwelling in his heart. And it's a God of love. So we have to recognize there are many ways in which God reveals himself and communicates himself. But there's a unique revelation of God in Jesus and we experience that revelation of God in Jesus through his death and resurrection. It's the country


of Christ dying and rising again who reveals the love of God in its plenitude to us. So that was our Christian experience. Then he said there is no distinction between Jew and Greek. The same Lord is Lord of all. His church is richest upon all. But everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved. So we have to mark our vision. You see, we've been saved for so long that only if we believe in Christ can we be saved. We know now that there are many other ways God has prepared for different peoples in the world. He's revealed himself in different ways. And people go to God by these different paths and always ultimately it's the path of faith and love. It's faith that there is this God, this truth that we recognize in the world and in our hearts and believe that God is love. Paul continues this


problem with the Jews and the Gentiles. As we know, the world is divided for him between the Jews, chosen people of God, and the Gentiles, the rest of the world. And his problem was how Jews had rejected Jesus as their Messiah and how the Gentiles had come to accept him. And here he speaks of the need of proclaiming this message, how men to call upon him if they have not believed, how they to believe if they have not heard, how they to hear without a preacher. And so the message has to be preached. And then he says, if not all obey God who has believed what he has heard, so faith comes to what is heard, what is heard comes by the preaching. And perhaps one can put it in this way. You see, there's always this problem that some people respond to the word of God. That word may come in all different ways,


come through the world around us, through nature around us, through a sacred book or poem maybe. And some are sensitive to the word and respond and others are not sensitive and just fail to respond. And that's clearly what St. Paul is dealing with, this universal problem. It's a great mystery why some people, faith awakens, they open themselves and they receive new light, and others don't seem to be able to, they get closed in and are unable to change. So it's a mystery of grace and of free will, both always there, always grace and always free will. None of us can really fathom it. And then he quotes various from the prophets. You notice he says, their voice has gone out toward the earth and their words to the ends of the world. And that is a problem, you see, that St. Paul's world is a very small world, especially the world of the Mediterranean, all those countries around the


Mediterranean. And he imagined that when the Gospel had been preached in the Mediterranean, it would be preached in all the world. And of course it's only a very, very small section of the world, and it never has been very effectively preached in a greater part of the world, a greater part of Asia has never really received it. So we have to see the limitations of St. Paul's world and of the New Testament world. The whole division of the world into Jews and Gentiles is very limiting, obviously. It's just one small section of the world. But it's symbolic in a sense. It always is. As I say, there are those who receive the word of God and respond and always those who are unable to accept it who reject. So that is the world we live in. And we're all faced with the same problem. And many people today, to a great part, many people reject Christianity, reject their own religion, and then they go in search of God, or they're just carried away


on the stream of events of the world around them and get close to anything more. At the same time, any situation, this word may break in, this grace may come, and a person suddenly discovers a deeper meaning in his life, and then he'll begin to open himself. So we all have to be aware of this. And I think we all experience it. Sometimes we're very open to grace, we respond. Other times we get closed in, we don't seem to be able to respond. So that's the world we live in. And we all have to be aware and awake. It's listening to the word, being awake, ready to hear, to respond. And that's, in whatever way it comes to us. It may come through a friend, it may come through a book, it may come through some accident which happens in our lives. God speaks in so many ways, and we have to be ready to hear and respond. I've learned this


letter to the Romans. Paul is struggling with this problem of Israel's rejection of Christ. And he feels it very deeply because he's personally involved in it. He says, I'm speaking to you Gentiles, as much as I am an apostle to the Gentiles. By no means. I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin. So he feels it very personally, this. Has God rejected Israel? Is it by no means. I myself am one. And then he explains it in terms of this remnant, one of the themes of the prophets was, that Israel might stray from God, but always a remnant would remain. I've kept to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee. And so too at the present time there is a remnant


chosen by grace, and again he then says, chosen by grace no longer the basis of works, not because they're better, but by the grace of God. And then he really goes a little further with that. There is always the idea that some are rejected by God, but there's a deeper idea that somehow all are saved. He gets around to it gradually, and I think there's something very deep in this, you see, that salvation is not due to human works and human achievements, it's a gift of God. And it really comes around in some way that gift is given to all. People may appear to fail, to refuse, to reject God, the atheists, agnostics, and people like that, and yet are they lost? Are they rejected? And I think again and again, you see, it's not so. There is a mysterious grace at work everywhere, among everybody. People may hate the church, they may reject Christ, they may reject God, and yet there is


something in them which responds to the mysterious presence of grace which opens their hearts. And that is the mystery of grace, you see. And St. Paul, he's rather harsh at times, and he quotes the Old Testament, you see, God gave them a spirit of stupor, their eyes could not see, their ears could not hear, then David says, let that table become a snare and a trap, all this very negative view, and yet he goes beyond that, and he sees beyond all this rejection there is this mystery of grace. We can't say that anyone is lost. I agree, we don't know, but we can't say so. The grace of God is offered to every human being, and we all know that in the most unlikely situations people apparently reject God and everything, and yet grace is there, some mystery of love is present which transforms them. So I think we all have to try to realize, I was saying this morning about the mystery of God. We try to make God into our own image and legislate for him he


must be good and just as we understand justice, but God is a mystery and St. Paul does at the end of this chapter he says the mystery of God, the mystery of his wisdom, you see, is something beyond our comprehension. And so I think today particularly we need to see how divine grace is present, it's offered to every human being in every situation. We can't say that anybody is outside the grace of God. Paul gives us this image of the tree and how much it's grafted into it to illustrate this relation of the Jews and the Gentiles, an interesting image that Christianity is rooted in Judaism roots there in Abraham, Moses and David, we see in Psalms every day and the Gentiles,


Greeks and the Romans and the Europeans, were grafted into this Jewish root and of course they took over and Christianity as we know it has its Jewish root, it has this European structure Greek and Roman structure is built onto this root mixed a little and we've inherited this Roman church with its European and later American developments and we're faced today with a similar situation really with St. Paul, he had the Jews chosen people of God and how they were going to relate to this Gentile world, the Greeks and Romans, and we've now inherited this European church with its extensions to different parts of the world and we're faced with the Gentiles of Asia and a large part of Africa about two thirds of the world


and we have to reflect on how Christianity relates to Asia in particular, see there are just about 2% of Asia is Christian after 2,000 years and if you take the Philippines away I think it's less than 1% and so it's another world really and of course it has its own profound religions Hinduism, Buddhism it's different forms Judaism, Taoism, Shintoism and it has its own culture a religious culture and we have to ask ourselves how does the church relate to this world so far we've not really attempted we've just brought our European religion and planted it in India and in Asia and the result has been as I say about 2% of converted and the problem is how do you create an Asian Christianity and that is what we're


really interested in today and maybe as it falls it's a good model you have your Jewish roots and we can't avoid that the Bible remains basic to the Christian faith altogether and the Bible is rooted in Judaism and it founds expression in Jesus the apostles who were Jews and we inherit the Semitic tradition and then onto that has been built this Greco-Roman European culture and which has its own values but also its own limitations and perhaps today we have to think rather how the Asian culture can be built into that Jewish Christian root see the Bible remains the root and the stem in a sense and we want to lose our face in this revelation to Israel which culminated in Jesus but then we don't need to bring all the European culture which has been built onto that


revelation to Israel which culminated in Jesus but then we don't need to bring all the European culture which has been built onto that to Asia which is what we've been doing we don't need a theology of Cato and Aristotle when we have Vedanta and Mahayana Buddhism to work with and we don't need a liturgy of the Roman Rite when we have marvelous gifts of liturgy in India and Asia generally so we have to ask ourselves how on that root of Bible and Biblical Semitic tradition the Asian culture and Asian religions can be built in and of course it's a dialogue it's a sharing with them opening to their values and then they open to the values of our Judeo-Christian tradition so we all need to reflect on that we can't accept the present situation let's say 2% of Asia after hundreds of thousands


nearly 2000 years and these 500 years of very extensive missionary work and still and the reason is not that the people of Asia don't want Christ they don't want Christ in European clothes as they always say they don't want this structure which we built onto the Christian faith so we have to ask how Christ can come to Asia in an Asian form and Christian faith expressed in the way of India China, Japan Korea, Vietnam all the people of Asia and that's the future of Church maybe in the next thousand years to see a similar growth as we saw in Europe European Christianity and also Asian Christianity they emerge from this root in Israel in the future of Judeo-Christian religion this reading of St. Paul


is a rather impressive statement of the mystery of Christ the mystery of the Gospel sort of central mystery central insight which is behind the whole Gospel and it comes out here very much it says first of all we are justified by faith and of course that's his great principle and faith is openness to God faith is when we go beyond ourselves it can be faith of all kinds but it's always going beyond your ego beyond your ego, beyond your limited personality and opening yourself to God, if you are Christian and opening to Christ and the Christian mystery of course is faith that through the death and resurrection of Christ we be set free from death and raised to new life we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ through Him we have obtained access to His grace


in which we stand and when we accept death and resurrection that remarkable poem from Indranath Tagore where it is given the sword instead of roses which you expect, it is given the sword and the sword is facing death and when we accept Christ we accept death and resurrection, we accept the dying of ourselves to the world and we know that we are saved that this power is in us and so that is the grace in which we stand a new life comes in a new understanding, a new experience of God, and we rejoice in our hope of sharing the glory of God, and faith is always a beginning of fullness, you see, we have the first glimpse we open ourselves to God, we get some indication, and then it opens up to hope that it will be fulfilled, faith is always imperfect, it sits at an early stage and it has to grow through hope to its final fulfillment


we rejoice in our hope of sharing the glory of God, the glory of God is the divine being itself faith is itself an opening to the Godhead, to the supreme reality itself but it's only a glimpse of it, it's an opening and hope shows us that it will be given to us and the end is the glory of God, sharing in the divine life itself, and hope does not disappoint us, God's love has been poured into our hearts for the spirit was given us this divine life this love this experience of love poured into the heart, and the heart is a seat of experience of the inner person, and that's where this love of God is found in the depths of the heart, in this Guha this cave of the heart, that's where we experience this indwelling presence of the spirit, so you see all the stages, faith leading through hope, through this expectation of the glory of God and then the actual gift of the love of God


poured into the heart, through the Holy Spirit, and that is the whole Christian mystery of the Church and then he goes on to say that all this effort, when we were yet sinners, we didn't deserve all this we didn't do something, get it as a reward, it came to us when all of us were nothing in ourselves and we all got various deficiencies this comes into our lives it enters in and it transforms us God shows his love for us, why were we yet sinners? we were separated from God without this gift, this grace and then it comes into our lives and works its transformation and that's a great expression of this Christian mystery which we live Paul continues this theme of the of the Jews and the Gentiles


and he shows what is very important that God reveals himself to Israel Abraham, Moses, David, prophets, and the message is given to Israel but it's always given in view of the people, the Gentiles humanity as a whole remember the promise to Abraham in your name all the families of the earth shall be blessed, so Israel always had this universal call but it often gets very limited and in the time of Christ it was particularly well limited in many ways certainly and Paul now tries to bring out this that the Gentiles were called from the beginning so he quotes the various things I will praise thee among the Gentiles sing to thy name, rejoice O Gentile for this people, praise the Lord all the Gentiles the Gentiles of course are simply the nations of the world and Israel thought itself to be this chosen people with this


special gift from God which was to be shared with all the nations, all the people and when Christ came of course it broke through the barrier of Judaism and opened the church to the Gentiles to a limited extent you see, with the coming of the church it was opened up to the Greeks and the Romans and the Europeans and so on and so a greater extension was made but it's still very limited we have to remind ourselves constantly that it would never be a universal religion even remotely in the first thousand years it was confined practically to the Europe almost entirely and 1500 years it was only after the 15th century that it began to move out to America to India and so on and except for the city of church which spread eastward was largely absorbed by Islam and so


the church today is very much like the Jews at the time of Christ it's a small community comparatively about a fifth of the world probably and it still has this core, be a universal religion Christians always had that core like the Jews it's a message for the whole humanity and Christ is the redeemer of all and the call is there to share this message with all but as I said it's still extremely limited we have to constantly remind ourselves as I said in Asia it's 2.5% of Christians and Asia is probably at least one third of the world not more, I can repeat that so this is our situation and I think we all have that vision that the church is a limited community which has this gift of God and Christ, it is to share with the world but we still got this


whole new world to share it with and that is what demands this new vision we have to see how the gospel message can be preached among the Gentiles among the people of Asia and also to some extent of Africa, so we all need to remind ourselves of this call of universality it's not yet, we have an appearance of universality there are Catholics all over the world now, many in India a certain number in China not very many in Japan and so on it's a tiny minority all the time you see and it's not really universal the gospel has not been preached in the world of Asia as a whole, so we have to keep that in mind pray also to understand how the gospel has to be preached in Asia what is the message we have for the people and perhaps it's worth remarking that there's a federation of Asian bishops which meets fairly regularly and they have a very profound vision of the church in Asia, they didn't much study to it


particularly the problem of poverty and suffering the massive invasion but more than that they're also much concerned with this problem of culture they realize that there's a notion as you know as we call this in this effort of the Romans for the subject of the Jews and the Gentiles, I was particularly concerned with this message to the Gentiles, that is to the people who are not Jews I was divided with him between the Jews and the nations the peoples called the Gentiles the Gentiles and he's been explaining his own view about this how the Jews have rejected Christ the Messiah, the Gentiles the nations, people have accepted him, says that as he says I've been made a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service


of the gospel of God that's a priestly service, an interesting phrase, a priest is one who mediates between God and man and he perceives himself as one presenting his knowledge of God to the people so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable sanctified by the Holy Spirit and then it becomes an offering the whole of human existence can be thought of in terms of sacrifice we're always offering our lives, whatever we are whatever we do, to God as a sacrifice, and as you know in India there's a very fond tradition of sacrificing everything every meal is a sacrifice you take the food and you sprinkle water on it you offer it in the food in the power of the stomach we sing that verse everyday I become the power of life we offer food to that inner power and the Lord accepts our sacrifice and the food nourishes us but it's also an offering to God a very profound view, the whole of human life


ultimately is a sacrifice and then he says I'm reasonably proud of my work to another speaker then he said what Christ has wrought through me to win obedience from the Gentiles by word and deed there's this tremendously deep sense I live yet I no longer, Christ lives in me and that is the fundamental religious experience if we go beyond ourself, beyond the ego and we encounter this deeper presence within us that is the center of the day the Christian that is Christ another form we always have to find this beyond the self, beyond the ego and to live through that and he speaks then of signs and wonders, the power of the Holy Spirit and it is normally accompanied by these signs and wonders and perhaps we shouldn't make too much of them they're not at all uncommon as you know, St. Barbara performs signs and wonders every day and they have their value but it's a limited one


the power of the Holy Spirit is something altogether different the Holy Spirit is that transforming power that takes us beyond ourselves beyond this world and opens us to God, to the infinite, to the eternal and that is the real power of the Gospel and so he says I preached from Jerusalem as part of the enormous Illyricum I fully preached the Gospel of Christ Illyricum is, I think, in the north of Greece it's quite a small area not to seem very great to him it was a large area for one man to come through in those days but I remind you, you must first remember how small was the world of the Gospel this is Paul, from Jerusalem to Rome was as far as he got and then he wanted to go to Spain because he thought Spain was the end of the world he got there, then he got to the end of the world so it was a small world in which he was living and yet, of course, he really did make a profound change in that world making my ambition to preach


not where Christ has already been named lest I build on another but he says elsewhere that Peter was giving the Gospel to the Jews and the letter of Peter was written to the Jews as a dispersion and to him was given this message to the Gentiles, to the nations and so he preaches it in Greece and eventually in Rome and so they shall see him who had never been told, never understood or ever heard so it's an interesting story, you see, how this message of the Gospel goes out and spreads and every religious tradition has this power to spread we'll be reading this account of Buddhism midday and one of the most extraordinary extensions that you can think of are from this little space in North India it spreads over India, then to Sri Lanka to Burma, to Thailand to Vietnam, to Korea, to Japan to the whole of China to the whole of China to the whole of China