“Ask a Priest: Is It Fair That God Had a Chosen People?”

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Q: Did a loving God really embrace favoritism? I am referring to God choosing the Jews in the Old Testament. I cannot see how they would have been more important than the non-Jews as everyone is a child of God. What does the magisterium teach on this topic? – H.H.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: If God has his favorites, that certainly is his right. Just as there seems to a hierarchy in heaven, there seems to be something of a hierarchy on earth.

The Old Testament acknowledges God’s special favor on the Israelites. “It was not because you are more numerous than all the peoples that the LORD set his heart on you and chose you; for you are really the smallest of all peoples” (Deuteronomy 7:7).

One helpful number from the Catechism is No. 781:

“At all times and in every race, anyone who fears God and does what is right has been acceptable to him. He has, however, willed to make men holy and save them, not as individuals without any bond or link between them, but rather to make them into a people who might acknowledge him and serve him in holiness. He therefore chose the Israelite race to be his own people and established a covenant with it. He gradually instructed this people. … All these things, however, happened as a preparation for and figure of that new and perfect covenant which was to be ratified in Christ … the New Covenant in his blood; he called together a race made up of Jews and Gentiles which would be one, not according to the flesh, but in the Spirit.” [end quoted material]

It seemed to be part of God’s pedagogy that he didn’t want to save us as individuals, disconnected from one another.

Rather, he wanted to bring us together as body to worship him. What better way to teach that than to make a covenant with one particular nation? And a small one, at that?

Thus, the choosing of a special people was a preparation for the coming of the Church, a privileged instrument of God’s grace and favor in the world.

As an aside, the fact that the Israelites/Jews endure to this day is a sign of God’s sustaining power. For more reading, see Roy Schoeman’s Salvation Is From the Jews.

In any case God “wills everyone to be saved” (1 Timothy 2:4). Hence, we all are favorites in God’s view. He didn’t have to create us. He didn’t have to send a Savior for us.

And lest we get puffed up about our gifts and talents, Jesus reminds us in Luke 12:48, “Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.”

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