THE NOW WORD ON MASS READINGS
for May 12th, 2014
Monday of the Fourth Week of Easter
HOW many Catholics ever pause to think that there is a global plan of salvation underway? That God is working each and every moment toward the fulfillment of that plan? When people look up at the clouds floating by, few think of the near infinite expanse of galaxies and planetary systems that lay beyond. They see clouds, a bird, a storm, and continue on without reflecting on the mystery lying beyond the heavens. Soo too, few souls look beyond the present day triumphs and storms and realize that they are leading toward the fulfillment of Christ’s promises, expressed in today’s Gospel:
I will lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock, one shepherd.
In the first reading, we see Christ’s plan for unity among all peoples beginning to unfold, as some of the first Gentiles begin to enter the Church. And the key word here is beginning. For there is a logical question that arises: how far and long must the plan of Christ extend until it reaches fulfillment? There are three answers to this question found in the Scriptures, Sacred Tradition, and the voice of the Magisterium:
I. Until all the nations acknowledge Jesus as Lord. Isa 11:9-10; Matt 24:14
II. Until there is universal peace. Isa 11:4-6; Rev 20:1-6
III. Until the Church follows her Lord in His “death and resurrection.” Eph 5 :27; Rev 20:6
And lest anyone think that these are rogue interpretations of Scripture, listen to the voice of Christ in the mind of the Church:
“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… It is God’s task to bring about this happy hour and to make it known to all… When it does arrive, it will turn out to be a solemn hour, one big with consequences not only for the restoration of the Kingdom of Christ, but for the pacification of… the world. We pray most fervently, and ask others likewise to pray for this much-desired pacification of society. —POPE PIUS XI, Ubi Arcani dei Consilioi “On the Peace of Christ in his Kingdom”, December 23, 1922
The unity of the world will be. The dignity of the human person shall be recognized not only formally but effectively. The inviolability of life, from the womb to old age… Undue social inequalities will be overcome. The relations between peoples will be peaceful, reasonable and fraternal. Neither selfishness, nor arrogance, nor poverty… [shall] prevent the establishment of a true human order, a common good, a new civilization. —POPE PAUL VI, Urbi et Orbi Message, April 4th, 1971
This is precisely the teaching of the early Church Fathers: that the kingdom of God will reign to the ends of the earth, though not in that perfection reserved only for Heaven, but in fulfillment of Christ’s promise that he will be the sole and Good Shepherd over all the nations.
So, the blessing foretold undoubtedly refers to the time of His Kingdom… Those who saw John, the Lord’s disciple, [tell us] that they heard from him how the Lord taught and spoke about these times… —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
…and I remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said, ‘John baptized with water but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’
…at the “end time” the Lord’s Spirit will renew the hearts of men, engraving a new law in them. He will gather and reconcile the scattered and divided peoples; he will transform the first creation, and God will dwell there with men in peace. —Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 715
But lest we be overcome with euphoria and tempted toward a “new millenarianism,” St. John reminds us that man’s fallen nature will always accompany him until the end of the world: the peace and unity to come is only temporary (see Rev 20:7-8). But this is precisely why the pacification and unity of the nations will be, as it were, a final testament and witness to the world that Jesus Christ is the only source of salvation—before the Last Judgment cf. The Last Judgments and conflagration of all things. cf. The Vindication of Wisdom
…this gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the world as a witness to all nations, and then the end will come. (Matt 24:14)
So brothers and sisters, look beyond the clouds of this moment, beyond the temporal and transitory things of this world, toward the present and imminent plan of God unfolding right now, that is bringing the Church into a…
… “new and divine” holiness with which the Holy Spirit wishes to enrich Christians at the dawn of the third millennium, in order to make Christ the heart of the world. —ST. JOHN PAUL II, L’Osservatore Romano, English Edition, July 9th, 1997
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