WE are on the very cusp of some astounding events in the Church and the world. And among them, the return of the Jews to the fold of Christ.
THE RETURN OF THE JEWS
There is a keen awareness among some Christians today of the importance of the Jews in prophecy. Unfortunately, however, it is often exaggerated or altogether misunderstood.
The Jewish people still have a role to play in salvation history, as summarized by St. Paul:
I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers, so that you will not become wise in your own estimation: a hardening has come upon Israel in part, until the full number of the Gentiles comes in, and thus all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “The deliverer will come out of Zion, he will turn away godlessness from Jacob; and this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins.” (Rom 11:25-27)
That is to say that the Old Testament covenants with the Israelites are fulfilled in the New Covenant, in and through Jesus, who takes “away their sins” through the shedding of His Precious Blood. As St. John Chrysostom taught, their reception into the New Covenant comes…
Not when they are circumcised… but when they attain to the forgiveness of sins. If then this hath been promised, but has never yet happened in their case, nor have they ever enjoyed the remission of sins by baptism, certainly it will come to pass. —Homily XIX on Rom. 11:27
However, as St. Paul teaches, God has permitted a “hardness of heart” to come upon Israel in order that God’s plan of universal salvation may come to fruition, so that the “rest” of the world may have the opportunity to be reconciled with God the Father. For the Lord “wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth.” 1 Timothy 2:4
This hardness that has come upon Israel is not a cause for Christians to judge Jews; on the contrary, it is an opportunity to anticipate the coming unity of the entire People of God that is part of the dramatic events that comprise the “end times.”
So do not become haughty, but stand in awe. For if God did not spare the natural branches, [perhaps] he will not spare you either. (Rom 11:20-21)
The glorious Messiah’s coming is suspended at every moment of history until his recognition by “all Israel”, for “a hardening has come upon part of Israel” in their “unbelief” toward Jesus… The “full inclusion” of the Jews in the Messiah’s salvation, in the wake of “the full number of the Gentiles”, will enable the People of God to achieve “the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ”, in which “God may be all in all.” —Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 674
NO TO TWO-COVENANT DUALISM
There is a certain dualism arising in these times, however, that tends to place the Jewish people on a different path of salvation, as if they have their covenants, and Christians have theirs. With respect to the Jews and God’s promises to them, they are not forgotten:
For the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable. (Rom 11:29)
However, the Old Testament covenants cannot be separated from Jesus Christ who is the fulfillment of them, and of all religious desire, and the only means by which mankind shall be saved. In the Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, the Vatican states on its website:
“In virtue of her divine mission, the Church” which is to be “the all-embracing means of salvation” in which alone “the fullness of the means of salvation can be obtained”; “must of her nature proclaim Jesus Christ to the world”. Indeed we believe that is through him that we go to the Father (cf. Jn. 14:6) “and this is eternal life, that they know thee the only true God and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent” (Jn 17:33). —Commission for Religious Relation with the Jews, “On the correct way to present the Jews and Judaism”; n. 7; vatican.va
As Rosalind Moss, a contemporary Jewish-Catholic evangelist put it: becoming Catholic is ‘the most Jewish thing a person can do.’ cf. Salvation is From the Jews, Roy H. Schoeman, p. 323 Jewish-Catholic convert, Roy Schoeman, testifies:
Almost every Jew who enters the Catholic Church feels deeply the sense of “return” that St. Paul captures in his image of the olive branch being grafted back on to its original, natural root—that they are in no way leaving Judaism but rather coming into its fullness. —Salvation is From the Jews, Roy H. Schoeman, p. 323
SHADOWS AND IMAGES
The key to understanding the Old Testament is to read it as a typology of Christianity, a symbolic foreshadowing of the New Covenant. Only in this light—the light of the world, who is Jesus—can the Old Testament’s relation to the New be understood and cherished and the words of the prophets and patriarchs be fully grasped. Furthermore, most all religions can be understood ultimately as a search for God, who is the common destiny of all peoples.
The Catholic Church recognizes in other religions that search, among shadows and images, for the God who is unknown yet near since he gives life and breath and all things and wants all men to be saved. Thus, the Church considers all goodness and truth found in these religions as “a preparation for the Gospel and given by him who enlightens all men that they may at length have life.” —Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 843
The long history of man, once shattered by original sin, has drawn together in a single path toward the Father so as to become “all in all.” That path is Jesus, “the way and the truth and the life.” This does not mean that everyone will be saved, but only those who comply with God’s commandments in faith, for as Jesus said: “If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love…” (John 15:10). cf. CCC, n. 847
Jesus affirms that “there shall be one flock and one shepherd”. Church and Judaism cannot then be seen as two parallel ways of salvation, and the Church must witness to Christ as the Redeemer for all, “while maintaining the strictest respect for religious liberty in line with the teaching of the Second Vatica
n Council (Declaration Dignitaries Humanae).” —Commission for Religious Relation with the Jews, “On the correct way to present the Jews and Judaism”; n. 7; vatican.va
UNITY: THE GREAT RESTORATION
The unity that Jesus prayed for is not a unity of religions, but of peoples. Furthermore, this unity will be in Christ, that is, His mystical Body, which is the Church. All that is built on sand will be washed away in this present and coming Storm.cf. That Which is Built on Sand and To the Bastion! – Part II Only that which is built on rock (because Christ has been building it) will remain. cf. Jesus, the Wise Builder And thus, the Magisterium teaches:
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, Encyclical, n. 12, Dec. 11th, 1925; cf. Matt 24:14
“And they shall hear my voice, and there shall be one fold and one shepherd.” May God… shortly bring to fulfillment His prophecy for transforming this consoling vision of the future into a present reality… —POPE PIUS XI, Ubi Arcani dei Consilioi “On the Peace of Christ in his Kingdom”, December 23, 1922
In the typology of the Old Testament, the Church Fathers saw “Zion” as a type of the Church.
He who scattered Israel, now gathers them together, he guards them as a shepherd his flock… Shouting, they shall mount the heights of Zion, they shall come streaming to the LORD’s blessings… there shall be one shepherd for them all… My dwelling shall be with them; I will be their God, and they shall be my people. (Jeremiah 31:10, 12; Ezekiel 37:24, 27)
This long foretold unity of Jews and Gentiles, purchased through the blood of Jesus, was noted by St. John in his Gospel:
Caiaphas… prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation, and not only for the nation, but also to gather into one the dispersed children of God. (John 11:51-52)
According to Sacred Scripture and the Church Fathers, the conversion of the Jews begins just prior to the “day of the Lord”, that “thousand year” era of peace.
Behold, the Day of the Lord shall be a thousand years. —Letter of Barnabas, The Fathers of the Church, Ch. 15
According to the prophet Malachi, the Lord promises a dramatic reversal; the doors of mercy will be flung wide open before the doors of justice:
Now I am sending to you Elijah the prophet, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and terrible day; He will turn the heart of fathers to their sons, and the heart of sons to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with utter destruction. (Mal 3:23-24
Many of the Church Fathers understood this to mean that the “two witnesses”, Enoch and Elijah—who did not die, but were assumed into paradise—would return to preach the Gospel in order to restore the Jews to the fullness of faith—the “fathers to their sons”.
I will commission my two witnesses to prophesy for those twelve hundred and sixty days, wearing sackcloth. (Rev 11:3)
Enoch and Elias the Thesbite shall be sent and shall turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, that is, the synagogue to our Lord Jesus Christ and the preaching of the apostles… —St. John Damascene, “Concerning the Antichrist”, De Fide Orthodoxa, IV, 26
…the Jews would believe, when the great Elijah would come to them and bring them the doctrine of the faith. The Lord himself said as much: ‘Elijah will come and will restore all things.” —Theodoret of Cyr, Church Father, “Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans”, Romans, by Gerald L. Bray, Thomas C. Oden; p. 287
The conversion of the Jews to Christianity will leave no little impact upon a Church that has faltered through apostasy, worldliness, and laxity, according to St. Thomas Aquinas:
What, I say, will such an acceptance mean but that it will make the Gentiles rise to life? For Gentiles are the believers who will grow lukewarm: “Because wickedness is multiplied, most men’s love will grown cold” (Mt 24:12), or will fall away entirely, being deceived by Antichrist. These will be restored to their primitive fervor after the conversion of the Jews. —St. Thomas Aquinas, Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, Rom Ch.11, n. 890; cf. Aquinas Study Bible
As I explain below, it would seem that the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart is precisely the “birthing” of this unity, at least in its beginning stages, so as to strengthen the Body of Christ against the deceptions of Antichrist that will follow the Illumination of Conscience. In the words of the 10th century French Abbot Adso:
Lest the Antichrist come suddenly and without warning and deceive and destroy the whole human race by his error, before his arrival the two great prophets Enoch and Elijah will be sent into the world. They will defend God’s faithful against the attack of the Antichrist with divine arms and will instruct, comfort, and prepare the elect for battle with three and a half years of teaching and preaching. These two very great prophets and teachers will convert the sons of Israel who will live in that time to the faith, and they will make their belief unconquerable among the elect in the face of the affliction of so great a storm. —Abbot Adso of Montier-En-Der, Letter on the Origin and Time of Antichrist ; (c. 950); pbs.org
In the vision of the “woman clothed in the sun”, she gives birth to a “male son”, that is, the whole Body of Christ (it’s just a “baby”, one could say, yet to grow into “full stature” and “manhood” in the era of peace.) Then St. John sees that…
…the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle, so that she could fly to her place in the desert, where, far from the serpent, she was taken care of for a year, two years, and a half. (Rev 12:14)
Is another possible interpretation of the “two wings” that of the graces of Enoch and Elijah, the two witnesses of Revelation who strengthen the Body of Christ such that “they that hope in the Lord will renew their strength, they will soar on eagles’ wings”? cf. Isaiah 40;31
…the coming of Enoch and Elias, who live even now and shall live until they come to oppose Antichrist himself, and to preserve the elect in the faith of Christ, and in the end shall convert the Jews, and it is certain that this is not yet fulfilled. —St. Robert Bellarmine, De Summo Pontifice, I, 3
JOHN PAUL II, AND OUR LADY’S UNIFICATION
Either Medjugorje—which is still under investigation by the Vatican—is going to play an enormous role in these times (and it already has with tens of thousands of conversions and vocations), or it will simply fizzle out as its detractors suggest.cf. On Medjugorje However, it is interesting that the apparitions began on the Feast of St. John the Baptist, whom Jesus likened to coming in the spirit of Elijah. cf. Matt 7:11-13
In the presence of the Indian Ocean Regional Episcopal Conference, during their ad limina meeting with then, Pope John Paul II, he answered their question regarding the central prophetic message of Medjugorje, which he called an “extension of Fatima”: cf. Medjugorje: “Just the Facts Ma’am”
As Urs von Balthasar put it, Mary is the Mother who warns her children. Many people have a problem with Medjugorje, with the fact that the apparitions last too long. They do not understand. But the message is given in a specific context, it corresponds to the situation of the country. The message insists on peace, on the relations between Catholics, Orthodox and Muslims. There, you find the key to the comprehension of what is happening in the world and of its future. —Revised Medjugorje: the 90’s, The Triumph of the Heart; Sr. Emmanuel; pg. 196
This is not a syncretistic view of religion, as if all religions are equal. In fact, in an alleged apparition of Our Lady of Medjugorje, that has often been confused and misinterpreted, she is asked a
question whether all religions are the same? The response is a proper theology of how to see non-Christians, including Jews:
Members of all faiths are equal before God. God rules over each faith just like a sovereign over his kingdom. In the world, all religions are not the same because all people have not complied with the commandments of God. They reject and disparage them. —October 1st, 1981; The Medjugorje Messages, 1981-20131; p. 11
People are equal before God’s eyes—not religions. “Truly I understand,” said St. Peter, “that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.” Acts 10:34-35
Indeed, Pope Benedict affirmed that St. John Paul II cherished…
…a great expectation that the millennium of divisions will be followed by a millennium of unifications… that all the catastrophes of our century, all its tears, as the Pope says, will be caught up at the end and turned into a new beginning. —Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (POPE BENEDICT XVI), Salt of the Earth, An Interview With Peter Seewald, p. 237
THE TRIUMPH OF UNITY
As I wrote in The Triumphs in Scripture, the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart is the birthing of a unified people that seems to come to fruition, at least in its early stages, during the “eye of the Storm”. Again, this birthing appears to include at least some Jews at a precipitous time.
The time is coming when princes and peoples will reject the authority of the Pope. Some countries will prefer their own Church rulers to the Pope. The German Empire will be divided. Church property will be secularized. Priests will be persecuted. After the birth of Antichrist heretics will preach their false doctrines undisturbed, resulting in Christians having doubts about their holy Catholic faith. —St. Hildegard (c. 1179), spiritdaily.net
There is needed a “great shaking”, an “illumination of conscience”, which St. John seems to describe in the sixth seal when everyone on earth sees in the heavens “a Lamb that seemed to have been slain.”Rev 5:6
They cried out to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of the one who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb, because the great day of their wrath has come and who can withstand it?” (Rev 6:16-17)
As I noted in The Triumphs in Scripture, this would appear to be the same event as when St. Michael the Archangel and his cohort breaks much of Satan’s power resulting, naturally, in a powerful period of evangelization. cf. The Middle Coming
Because of Michael’s help, Gods faithful children will march under his protection. They will decimate their foes and achieve victory through God’s power… As a result of this a large number of heathens will join Christians in true faith and they will say, “The God of the Christians is true God because such wondrous works have been accomplished among the Christians”. —St. Hildegard (c. 1179), spiritdaily.net
The fruit of this grace and “final warning” before the coming of the “lawless one”—who becomes God’s instrument of justice—would apparently include the Jews. Compare St. Faustina’s vision of the “warning” to that of the prophet Zechariah regarding the Israelites:
Before I come as the just Judge, I am coming first as the King of Mercy. Before the day of justice arrives, there will be given to people a sign in the heavens of this sort: All light in the heavens will be extinguished, and there will be great darkness over the whole earth. Then the sign of the cross will be seen in the sky, and from the openings where the hands and the feet of the Savior were nailed will come forth great lights which will light up the earth for a period of time. This will take place shortly before the last day. —Jesus to St. Faustina, Divine Mercy in My Soul, Diary, n. 83; note the “last day” here does not necessarily mean the last 24 hour period, but more likely the “day of the Lord”. See Faustina, and the Day of the Lord
I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of mercy and supplication, so that when they look on him whom they have thrust through, they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and they will grieve for him as one grieves over a firstborn. (Zech 12:10)
After the sixth seal is opened, St. John sees a special marking that takes place before the chastisement, which includes the Antichrist or “beast”.
Do not damage the land or the sea or the trees until we put the seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.” I heard the number of those who had been marked with the seal, one hundred and forty-four thousand marked from every tribe of the Israelites… (Rev 7:3-4)
As the Navarre Bible commentary notes, “The most plausible interpretation is that the 144, 000 stand for the Jews converted to Christianity.” cf. Revelation, p. 63, footnote 7:1-17 Theologian Dr. Scott Hahn notes that this seal is…
…giving protection to the believing remnant of Israel, who will pass through the tribulation. This may refer to a grace of spiritual perseverance rather than a guarantee of physical survival. In the broader context of Revelation, there is a contrast between the seal of God stamped on the foreheads of the righteous and the mark of the beast inscribed on the brows of the wicked. —Ignatius Catholic Study Bible, New Testament, p. 501, footnote 7:3
Again, this is foreshadowed in Revelation 12 when the “woman clothed in the sun”, who was “in labor”, gives birth to a “male son” before the last battle with the beast, and she herself is given refuge in “the desert”. Her crown of twelves stars represents both the twelve tribes of Israel and the Twelve Apostles, that is, all the People of God. The Twelve Apostles, notes Dr. Hahn, “signify the messianic restoration of Israel.” cf. Dr. Scott Hahn, Ignatius Catholic Study Bible, New Testament, p. 275, “The Salvation of Israel” Indeed, St. John’s vision also includes those “from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and tongues” who will go through a great tribulation before the “thousand year” era. cf. Rev 7:9-14 Thus, the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-Church will be a battle between the united Body of Christ vs. the uniform mystical body of Satan.
JERUSALEM, THE CENTER OF THE WORLD
Jerusalem’s role in salvation history sets it apart from any other city on earth. It is, in fact, a type of the heavenly New Jerusalem, that Eternal City where all the saints will dwell in perpetual Light.
Jerusalem played a large role in Our Lord’s Passion, Death, and Resurrection, and figures into prophecy in the early Church with the destruction of the temple. However, the Early Church Fathers also foresaw that Jerusalem would once again become the center of the world—for better and worse—before the “sabbath rest” or “era of peace”.
But when The Antichrist shall have devastated all things in this world, he will reign for three years and six months, and sit in the temple at Jerusalem; and then the Lord will come from Heaven in the clouds… sending this man and those who follow him into the lake of fire; but bringing in for the righteous the times of the kingdom, that is, the rest, the hallowed seventh day… These are to take place in the times of the kingdom, that is, upon the seventh day… the true Sabbath of the righteous. —St. Irenaeus of Lyons, Church Father (140–202 A.D.); Adversus Haereses, Irenaeus of Lyons, V.33.3.4, The Fathers of the Church, CIMA Publishing Co.
St. Paul says something quite interesting about the eventual conversion of Israel to Jesus Christ.
For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead? (Romans 11:15)
St. Paul ties the inclusion of the Jews to the resurrection of the Church. Indeed, after the death of Antichrist, St. John foresees those who have refused the “mark of the beast” participating in what he calls a “first resurrection.” cf. The Coming Resurrection
The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. (Revelation 20:5)
The essential affirmation is of an intermediate stage in which the risen saints are still on earth and have not yet entered their final stage, for this is one of the aspects of the mystery of the last days which has yet to be revealed. —Cardinal Jean Daniélou, S.J., theologian, A History of Early Christian Doctrine Before the Council of Nicea, 1964, p. 377
The Church Fathers saw that Jerusalem would become the center of Christianity after the most likely destruction of Rome.
We do confess that a kingdom is promised to us upon the earth, although before heaven, only in another state of existence; inasmuch as it will be after the resurrection for a thousand years in the divinely-built city of Jerusalem… —Tertullian (155–240 A.D.), Nicene Church Father; Adversus Marcion, Ante-Nicene Fathers, Henrickson Publishers, 1995, Vol. 3, pp. 342-343)
Remember, of course, that the Jews were scattered from Jerusalem and all of Israel as a chastisement for their unfaithfulness to God’s covenant—what is called the diaspora. However, the Scriptures foretell that they will someday return… an event we are now watching in real time as Jews from around the world continue to migrate to Israel.
Look! I will bring them back from the land of the north; I will gather them from the ends of the earth, the blind and the lame in their midst, pregnant women, together with those in labor—an immense throng—they shall return… See, I am gathering them from all the lands to which I drove them in my rising fury and great anger; I will bring them back to this place and settle them here in safety… With them I will make an everlasting covenant, never to cease doing good to them;
I will put fear of me in their hearts so that they never turn away from me. (Jeremiah 31:8; 32:37-40)
They are called back to their land “in labor”… like the woman clothed in the sun, both persecuted and preparing for that unity for which Christ prayed, and which is accomplished through Our Blessed Mother, “the Mother of all peoples.” Hence, we might better understand the unparalleled attack upon the Jewish people throughout centuries of anti-Semitism, the holocaust of Nazism, and now, once again, a dramatic spike in violence against Jews, particularly in the Middle East and Europe. cf. washingtonpost.com, April 15th, 2015; frontpagemag.com, April 19th, 2015 It is as though Satan is attempting to extinguish the Jewish people and somehow thwart God’s plan, for to them also “belong the sonship, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; to them belong the patriarchs, and of their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ.” Rom 9:4
…because salvation is from the Jews. (John 4:22)
That is, to them, also, belong what St. Peter calls a time of reprieve, what the Church Fathers understood to be the “thousand years” and true “sabbath” after the death of the Antichrist, but before the end of time.
Let us pray, then, for the hastening of the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart and the coming of the Kingdom of God, when Jews and Gentiles alike will adore Christ, the Lamb, in the Holy Eucharist as they prepare for His return in glory at the end of time.
Repent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be wiped away, and that the Lord may grant you times of refreshment and send you the Messiah already appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the times of universal restoration of which God spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old. (Acts 3:19-21)
I and every other orthodox Christian feel certain that there will be a resurrection of the flesh followed by a thousand years in a rebuilt, embellished, and enlarged city of Jerusalem, as was announced by the Prophets Ezekiel, Isaias and others… A man among us named John, one of Christ’s Apostles, received and foretold that the followers of Christ would dwell in Jerusalem for a thousand years, and that afterwards the universal and, in short, everlasting resurrection and judgment would take place. —St. Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, Ch. 81, The Fathers of the Church, Christian Heritage
Thanks for your love, prayers, and support!
|↑1||1 Timothy 2:4|
|↑2||cf. Salvation is From the Jews, Roy H. Schoeman, p. 323|
|↑3||cf. CCC, n. 847|
|↑4||cf. That Which is Built on Sand and To the Bastion! – Part II|
|↑5||cf. Jesus, the Wise Builder|
|↑6||cf. Isaiah 40;31|
|↑7||cf. On Medjugorje|
|↑8||cf. Matt 7:11-13|
|↑9||cf. Medjugorje: “Just the Facts Ma’am”|
|↑12||cf. The Middle Coming|
|↑13||cf. Revelation, p. 63, footnote 7:1-17|
|↑14||cf. Dr. Scott Hahn, Ignatius Catholic Study Bible, New Testament, p. 275, “The Salvation of Israel”|
|↑15||cf. Rev 7:9-14|
|↑16||cf. The Coming Resurrection|
|↑17||cf. washingtonpost.com, April 15th, 2015; frontpagemag.com, April 19th, 2015|