The Reign of the Lion

THE NOW WORD ON MASS READINGS
for December 17th, 2014
of the Third Week of Advent

Liturgical texts here

 

HOW are we to understand the prophetic texts of Scripture which imply that, with the coming of the Messiah, justice and peace would reign, and He would crush His enemies beneath His feet? For would it not appear that 2000 years later, these prophecies have utterly failed?

Jesus came to announce to the world that He was the way out of darkness, by following the light of truth, which leads to life.

The descent into hell brings the Gospel message of salvation to complete fulfillment.Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), n. 634

So by His death and Resurrection, Jesus accomplished His mission to reconcile mankind with the Father. However… a big however:

Christ’s redemptive act did not of itself restore all things, it simply made the work of redemption possible, it began our redemption. Just as all men share in the disobedience of Adam, so all men must share in the obedience of Christ to the Father’s will. Redemption will be complete only when all men share his obedience. —Fr. Walter Ciszek, He Leadeth Me, pg. 116-117; quoted in The Splendor of Creation, Fr. Joseph Iannuzzi, pg. 259

This is precisely the prophecy in today’s first reading regarding the Lion of Judah, one of Christ’s titles.

The scepter shall never depart from Judah, or the mace from between his feet, until tribute comes to him, and he receives the people’s obedience. (Gen 49:10)

Redemption “in the fullness of time” will not be accomplished until the Gospel reaches the ends of the earth “as a witness to all nations, and then the end will come.” [1]cf. Matt 24:14 This does not mean that all people, everywhere will have saving faith in Jesus. But it means that a “witness” will be given to the world when the Church enters fully into the obedience of Christ, and through her witness, nations beat their swords into ploughshares and are pacified by the Gospel. [2]cf. CCC, n. 64

All Jesus did, said and suffered had for its aim restoring fallen man to his original vocation… that what we had lost in Adam, that is, being in the image and likeness of God, we might recover in Christ Jesus.CCC, n. 518

The problem today with biblical exegesis of the “end times” is that it neglects the central “mystery” that Christ came to accomplish that goes far beyond “being saved.” It is the plan to spread the Kingdom of God…

…until we all attain to the unity of faith and knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the extent of the full stature of Christ… (Eph 4:13)

Until the Church “builds itself up in love,” says St. Paul. [3]cf. Eph 4:16 And Jesus said, “If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.” [4]cf. John 15:10 That is, if we are to ‘live in him all that he himself lived’… [5]cf. CCC, n. 521

…We must continue to accomplish in ourselves the stages of Jesus’ life and his mysteries and often to beg him to perfect and realize them in us and in his whole Church. CCC, n. 521

And the last stage of Jesus’ life was to empty himself “becoming obedient to death.” [6]cf. Phil 2:8 So you see, the Kingdom of God, which is the Church already present on earth, will reign to the ends of the earth when she follows her Lord in her own passion, death, and resurrection. [7]cf. The Coming Dominion of the Church Pope Pius XI, among many pontiffs, [8]cf. The Popes and the Dawning Era put the ancient prophecies in their proper perspective: that the reign of the Messiah is not fully extended at the birth in Bethlehem or even at Calvary, but when the whole body of Christ has been birthed. [9]Cf. Rom 11:25

Here it is foretold that his kingdom will have no limits, and will be enriched with justice and peace: “in his days shall justice spring up, and abundance of peace… And he shall rule from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth”… When once men recognize, both in private and in public life, that Christ is King, society will at last receive the great blessings of real liberty, well-ordered discipline, peace and harmony… for with the spread and the universal extent of the kingdom of Christ men will become more and more conscious of the link that binds them together, and thus many conflicts will be either prevented entirely or at least their bitterness will be diminished… The Catholic Church, which is the kingdom of Christ on earth, [is] destined to be spread among all men and all nations… —POPE PIUS XI, Quas Primas, n. 8, 19, 12; Dec. 11th, 1925

This is why Revelation 12 speaks of a Woman in labour whose child is “destined to rule all the nations with an iron rod.” [10]cf. Rev 12: 5 The iron rod is the will of God , the immutable, unchangeable Word of God. The destruction of the “lawless one”, the Antichrist, then, is not the end of the world but the long awaited birth of lawfullness, a people who live the Gift of the Divine Will in union with the Holy Trinity, which is the fulfillment of love. They will bring to completion “until the day of Jesus Christ” [11]cf. Phil 1:6 the work of Christ’s redemption “as a plan for the fullness of times, to sum up all things in Christ, in heaven and on earth.” [12]cf. Eph 1:10 And they will reign with Him “for a thousand years. [13]cf. Rev 20:6

Behold, the Day of the Lord shall be a thousand years. —An Early Church Father, Letter of Barnabas, The Fathers of the Church, Ch. 15

They will reign until the end of the “day of the Lord” when the consumation of all things comes amidst a final rebellion, [14]cf. CCC, n. 677; Rev 20:7-10 and Jesus returns to receive His Bride “holy and without blemish.” [15]cf. Eph 5:27 For…

…he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him. (Eph 1:4)

The genealogy of Christ that we read in today’s Gospel is not yet fully written. He invites you and I to enter into His mystery so that when He comes to destroy the reign of the lawless one, we might reign with Him under a new name until the end of the world, and beyond…

The victor I will make into a pillar in the temple of my God, and he will never leave it again. On him I will inscribe the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from my God, as well as my new name. (Rev 3:10)

We are already at “the last hour.” “Already the final age of the world is with us, and the renewal of the world is irrevocably under way; it is even now anticipated in a certain real way, for the Church on earth is endowed already with a sanctity that is real but imperfect.” CCC, n. 670

 

 

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1. cf. Matt 24:14
2. cf. CCC, n. 64
3. cf. Eph 4:16
4. cf. John 15:10
5. cf. CCC, n. 521
6. cf. Phil 2:8
7. cf. The Coming Dominion of the Church
8. cf. The Popes and the Dawning Era
9. Cf. Rom 11:25
10. cf. Rev 12: 5
11. cf. Phil 1:6
12. cf. Eph 1:10
13. cf. Rev 20:6
14. cf. CCC, n. 677; Rev 20:7-10
15. cf. Eph 5:27
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