Today it seems we’re forever planning for the future. One big reason is the changing times we live in. No one today can sit still and say “My life and my surroundings won’t change; they’ll be the same forever.” From the big world we live in to the small world of our everyday lives, things are continually changing.
We have to keep our eyes on the big picture, which is the plan of God. Today’s Office of Readings offers a quotation from the Second Vatican Council’s decree “Lumen gentium” that, at first sight, may seem far from our present situation, but really sheds light on it.
God has a plan for this world, mysterious, wise and good, which is “to dignify men and women with a participation in his own divine life.” His plan will be achieved through Jesus Christ, the redeemer, who is “ the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature.”
God’s plan calls for a church where those whom Christ saves will be gathered. The church “foreshadowed from the beginning of the world” will achieve a glorious fulfillment at the end of time when all men and women from the time of Adam, “‘from Abel, the just one, to the last of the elect’, will be gathered together with the Father in the universal church.”
This isn’t a small church. Some are related to it who have not yet explicitly embraced Jesus Christ. Here’s the way the Vatican Council describes them:
“In the first place there is that people to whom the covenants and promises were made and from whom Christ was born according to the flesh. On account of their fathers, this people remains most dear to God, for God does not repent of the gifts he makes nor of the calls he issues.
“But the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the creator. In the first place among these there are the Moslems; they profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and along with us adore the one and merciful God, who will judge mankind on the last day.
“Nor is God himself far distant from those who in shadows and images seek the unknown God, for it is he who gives to all men life and breath and every other gift, and who as Saviour wills that all men be saved.
“Those also can attain to everlasting salvation who through no fault of their own do not know the gospel of Christ or his Church, yet sincerely seek God and, moved by grace, strive by their deeds to do his will as it is known to them through the dictates of conscience. Nor does divine Providence deny the help necessary for salvation to those who, without blame on their part, have not yet arrived at an explicit knowledge of God but who strive, aided by his grace, to live a good life.
Whatever goodness or truth is found amongst them, is looked upon by the Church as a preparation for the gospel, and as given by him who enlightens all men that they may finally have life.”
We need to have this larger dimension in mind when we plan, especially if our planning involves the church. Too often we plan in a small, protective way.