Monday of the Twenty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time
(I Timothy 2:1-8; Luke 7:1-10)
Persecutions in the early Church were evidently not as severe and as frequent as sometimes thought. Historians say the Romans were generally lax about religious laws. They only insisted that people pay respect to the Roman gods without necessarily abandoning their own. Of course, Christians would not acknowledge the existence of other gods and were persecuted when politically expedient. Today’s first reading indicates the early Christian desire to exist in peace with Rome.
Paul, or perhaps his disciple, exhorts Christians to pray for those in authority. His intention is to have them avoid persecution as much as possible. It is not to be a prayer for show but a testimony to God’s will for universal salvation. The gospel likewise has this in mind as it shows Jesus praising the faith of a Roman officer.
Some may find it unnecessary today to pray for the salvation of non-Christians given Vatican II’s acknowledgment that one following his or her conscience will be saved. However, Pope Benedict offered some insight when he asked the poignant question: Can people be saved if they convert their opinions and desires into norms of conscience so that they do anything they wish? No, such salvation is doubtful. The world desperately needs the saving truth of Jesus as a guide to the world. Even if not all embrace belief in his divinity, the world needs his light.