December 09, 2002 Copyright © by United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
- 1 I ask, then, has God rejected his people? Of course not! For I too am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.
- God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew. Do you not know what the scripture says about Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel?
- "Lord, they have killed your prophets, they have torn down your altars, and I alone am left, and they are seeking my life."
- But what is God's response to him? "I have left for myself seven thousand men who have not knelt to Baal."
- So also at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace.
- But if by grace, it is no longer because of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.
- What then? What Israel was seeking it did not attain, but the elect attained it; the rest were hardened,
- as it is written: "God gave them a spirit of deep sleep, eyes that should not see and ears that should not hear, down to this very day."
- And David says: "Let their table become a snare and a trap, a stumbling block and a retribution for them;
- let their eyes grow dim so that they may not see, and keep their backs bent forever."
- 2 Hence I ask, did they stumble so as to fall? Of course not! But through their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make them jealous.
- Now if their transgression is enrichment for the world, and if their diminished number is enrichment for the Gentiles, how much more their full number.
- Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I glory in my ministry
- in order to make my race jealous and thus save some of them.
- For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?
- 3 If the firstfruits are holy, so is the whole batch of dough; and if the root is holy, so are the branches.
- But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, a wild olive shoot, were grafted in their place and have come to share in the rich root of the olive tree,
- do not boast against the branches. If you do boast, consider that you do not support the root; the root supports you.
- Indeed you will say, "Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in."
- That is so. They were broken off because of unbelief, but you are there because of faith. So do not become haughty, but stand in awe.
- For if God did not spare the natural branches, (perhaps) he will not spare you either.
- See, then, the kindness and severity of God: severity toward those who fell, but God's kindness to you, provided you remain in his kindness; otherwise you too will be cut off.
- And they also, if they do not remain in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.
- For if you were cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated one, how much more will they who belong to it by nature be grafted back into their own olive tree.
- 4 I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers, so that you will not become wise (in) your own estimation: a hardening has come upon Israel in part, until the full number of the Gentiles comes in,
- and thus all Israel will be saved, as it is written: "The deliverer will come out of Zion, he will turn away godlessness from Jacob;
- and this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins."
- In respect to the gospel, they are enemies on your account; but in respect to election, they are beloved because of the patriarchs.
- For the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable.
- 5 Just as you once disobeyed God but have now received mercy because of their disobedience,
- so they have now disobeyed in order that, by virtue of the mercy shown to you, they too may (now) receive mercy.
- For God delivered all to disobedience, that he might have mercy upon all.
- 6 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How inscrutable are his judgments and how unsearchable his ways!
- "For who has known the mind of the Lord 7 or who has been his counselor?"
- 8 "Or who has given him anything that he may be repaid?"
- For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.
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1 [1-10] Although Israel has been unfaithful to the prophetic message of the gospel (Romans 10:14-21), God remains faithful to Israel. Proof of the divine fidelity lies in the existence of Jewish Christians like Paul himself. The unbelieving Jews, says Paul, have been blinded by the Christian teaching concerning the Messiah.
2 [11-15] The unbelief of the Jews has paved the way for the preaching of the gospel to the Gentiles and for their easier acceptance of it outside the context of Jewish culture. Through his mission to the Gentiles Paul also hopes to fill his fellow Jews with jealousy. Hence he hastens to fill the entire Mediterranean world with the gospel. Once all the Gentile nations have heard the gospel, Israel as a whole is expected to embrace it. This will be tantamount to resurrection of the dead, that is, the reappearance of Jesus Christ with all the believers at the end of time.
3 [16-24] Israel remains holy in the eyes of God and stands as a witness to the faith described in the Old Testament because of the firstfruits (or the first piece baked) (Romans 11:16), that is, the converted remnant, and the root that is holy, that is, the patriarchs (Romans 11:16). The Jews' failure to believe in Christ is a warning to Gentile Christians to be on guard against any semblance of anti-Jewish arrogance, that is, failure to recognize their total dependence on divine grace.
4 [25-29] In God's design, Israel's unbelief is being used to grant the light of faith to the Gentiles. Meanwhile, Israel remains dear to God (cf Romans 9:13), still the object of special providence, the mystery of which will one day be revealed.
5 [30-32] Israel, together with the Gentiles who have been handed over to all manner of vices (Romans 1), has been delivered . . . to disobedience. The conclusion of Romans 11:32 repeats the thought of Romans 5:20, "Where sin increased, grace overflowed all the more."
6 [33-36] This final reflection celebrates the wisdom of God's plan of salvation. As Paul has indicated throughout these chapters, both Jew and Gentile, despite the religious recalcitrance of each, have received the gift of faith. The methods used by God in making this outreach to the world stagger human comprehension but are at the same time a dazzling invitation to abiding faith.
7  The citation is from the Greek text of Isaiah 40:13. Paul does not explicitly mention Isaiah in this verse, nor Job in 11:35.
8  Paul quotes from an old Greek version of Jb 41, 3a, which differs from the Hebrew text (Job 41:11a).
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