On any given Sunday, the three readings in the Liturgy are usually centred around a specific theme, and would thus be related to each other. It is not always clear, however, how the Old Testament reading relates to the Gospel and Epistle readings. This Sunday, the relationship between the three is quite clear, even to the casual reader. All three readings discuss the universality of God’s plan of salvation, and how it encompasses both Jew as well as Gentile.
There is a tendency in most Old Testament studies to regard the Israelite religion as a nationalistic faith, and to some extent this is valid. After all, God chose Israel for a special mission, and thus Israel had privileges that were not accorded to other nations. But these privileges were always in view of blessing the whole world.
Even as far back as Genesis, we read that the purpose of God calling Abraham was so that through him, all the nations of the world would be blessed (Genesis 12:1-3). Similarly, Deuteronomy 4:5-8 states that the reason God gave the Torah to Israel was so that they could serve as a role model for all the other nations to follow. Finally, we can think of all the righteous Gentiles who were incorporated into God’s people because of their faith, such as Rahab and Ruth.
This theme is especially pronounced in Isaiah 56. It states that foreigners would be joined to the Lord, and that they would worship in His temple. This finds its fulfillment in the New Testament, where it teaches that the Church is the antitype of Mount Zion, and the greater Jerusalem where God is worshipped in Spirit and Truth (Galatians 4:26, Hebrews 12:22).
Whether Jew or Gentile, if we are in Christ, we can rejoice in the fact that God has offered salvation to everyone, and we should seek to see others joined to the spiritual Jerusalem of which Isaiah prophesied.
J. Luis Dizon