The inclusive model holds that Jesus Christ is the normative expression of God’s will for all people. The problem is that many people have never known Christ. What role has the God of love for them? Is Christian faith offered to everyone? Some Christians believe in predestination so that only a few are chosen. Christianity has always been missionary, sometimes overly zealous, as in the Crusades and the Inquisition. What about those who have never heard of Jesus Christ? The Catholic Council of Trent (1545-1563) in the 16th century talked about a baptism of desire. You will be saved by Jesus without knowing him. Salvation is fully found in Jesus, but offered to everyone in all genuine religions who live the good life, who sincerely seek God, moved by grace, and strive by their deeds to do his will as they know it. Sometimes we call them like Karl Rahner (1904-1984) “anonymous Christians.”
“I resolved to live
According to wisdom.
I was zealous for the good.
I shall never be disappointed.
My soul grappled with wisdom.
In my conduct
I was strict.
I spread out my hands
To the heavens.
I lamented my ignorance of her.
I directed my soul to her.
I found her.
I gained understanding
From the first.
Therefore I will never be forsaken.
My heart was stirred to seek her.
Therefore I have gained a prize possession.
The Lord gave me my tongue
As a reward.
I will praise him with it.”
Sirach or this author wanted to live according to wisdom, to put wisdom into practice. He was zealous for the good things, so that he was never disappointed. He was strict in his conduct, as his soul wrestled with wisdom. He admitted in prayer that he was ignorant of wisdom, but he tried to purify his soul to find out more. Finally, he gained the understanding that he would never be abandoned by God. His heart was stirred to seek her even more. The result was a prize possession, the Lord gave him a speaking tongue so that he could praise the Lord even much more.
“Then Mattathias cried out in the town with a loud voice, saying.
‘Let everyone who is zealous for the law
Everyone who supports the covenant,
Come out with me!’
He and his sons fled to the hills. They left all that they had in the town.”
Now there was no question about what to do. Mattathias and his sons got out of town. There was no mention of his brothers. He wanted everyone who supported and cared for the covenant Mosaic Law to follow him into the hills.
“The king’s officers who were enforcing the apostasy came to the city of Modein to make them offer sacrifice. Many from Israel came to them. Mattathias and his sons were assembled. Then the king’s officers spoke to Mattathias as follows.
‘You are a leader,
Honored and great in this city,
Supported by sons and brothers.
Now be the first to come.
Do what the king commands,
As all the gentiles
And the men of Judah
And those that are left in Jerusalem have done.
Then you and your sons
Will be numbered among the friends of the king.
You and your sons will be honored with silver, gold, and many gifts.’”
These inspectors of the king were zealous. They came to Modein to make sure that the Israelites there were offering the correct sacrifices. Mattathias and his sons were assembled there. These inspectors spoke specifically to Mattathias and his sons. They said that he and his sons were honored and great. They should be the first to follow the king’s command to sacrifice to the idols since everyone elsewhere had done the same. If they were to be first in Modein, they would become friends of the king, a special title that the Persian kings often used. They would be honored with silver, gold, and other gifts.