Sunday, October 29, 2006

"The sin of the Gentiles is they lack charity."

Pictured, Saint Benedict Joseph Labre, a saint with mental illness.

I cannot remember where I heard or read that phrase; "the sin of the Gentiles is they lack charity." I assumed it was from Romans - yet I searched every translation available many times without finding it. I may have had a dream years ago wherein I heard the words. I don't know. For at least 30 years the phrase has ruminated in my heart from time to time. It re-emerged in my thoughts again today - probably because I was thinking of Jean Vanier and his life with the disabled.

The wounded and vulnerable among us call out to our vulnerability, exposing our fears of pain and loss and failure. It is written that love casts out all fear, thus, if we do not love, if we have not charity, we close ourselves off from those who need us.

Anger and contempt can result in apathy - which, I think can be a form of violence in itself because of its injustice. Our world is full of it. It strikes me that we need to lose in order to win. In the United States, we hate to lose.

We so need to understand our relationship with the less fortunate, the disabled, the "losers" of our society, who cry out for relationship. Our fear of relationship is our fear of the pain that may be encountered in the exposure of our own vulnerability. Or perhaps causing us to experience our own brokenness - that which we expend so much effort to deny. In the case of the self-sufficient, it may be a prideful conceit refusing to acknowledge weakness in others, lest it contaminate their self-sufficiency. I guess that is pride - the pride of life.

I'm simply thinking about these things today.

I obviously cannot express them well.

However, I think all the sins of my life have had their root in the phrase, "The sin of the Gentiles is they lack charity."


  1. Dear Mr. "Ask Terry,"

    Could you please define what "Gentile" means? What did it mean in Biblical times, and does it mean the same thing today?

    Thank you,
    A daily reader:)

  2. Gentile is the name given to non-Jewish people. It's the same as in biblical times. Today Mormons will use the term for non-Mormons. I used it in the sense of Paul's use in Romans, with the exception that since the Church is the new Israel, we might just as well use that term for non-Catholics. Although I really meant non-religious/secular people.
    Have I confused everyone enough?

  3. Anonymous12:35 PM

    Gentiles: often translated as "heathen."

  4. the mensch2:00 PM

    Jews still refer to Christians or any non-Jew as a gentile, their word is goyim or goy. Their word for non-Jewish women is shiksa - no flattery intended.


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