All Are Welcome

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Who is in and who is out? This question haunts so much of our world today. It can be framed as the classic “us-versus-them” dynamic or constructed in such a way as to establish a hierarchy of belonging, which privileges those considered “in” a group while demeaning and subjugating those considered “out” of a group.  

Both readings today engage this dynamic. The first recounts the origins of the so-called Council of Jerusalem. This gathering of early Church leaders met to debate whether one had to convert first to Judaism to be baptized into the Christian community. In the end, it was decided that anybody could enter the Body of Christ through baptism without first converting to Judaism or any other tradition. But getting to this point of consensus was not without difficulty and the result was not without detractors.  

In the Gospel, Jesus explains that his followers are united to one another and to Christ like a vine with many branches. Whereas the early Christians were debating who they should include or exclude, Jesus reminds us that only God has the authority to say who is ultimately “in” or “out.” Jesus reassures his followers that God includes all those who remain part of the vine, and therefore it is up to us to decide whether we stay or go—to open ourselves to divine pruning or get tossed away. In an age when there is so much exclusion, let us remember that for God, truly all are welcome. We are called to be people of inclusion.  

© Liturgical Press.

Fr. Daniel Horan

Daniel P. Horan, OFM, is the Dun Scotus Chair of Spirituality at the Catholic Theological Union (Chicago). He is the author of several books, including Reading, Praying, Living Pope Francis’s Rejoice and Be Glad.

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