God forged His people over thousands of years for a purpose. Jesus came to and for the Jews, God’s chosen people, to call them to action and service. From a ten thousand foot level can we look at the New Testament as a blueprint…how God planned to reach the Gentile nations and by who? Are the apostles and Paul archetypal models for the type of servanthood (discipleship) to which the Jewish people as a whole were called – including their saving mission to reach out and bless all the Gentile nations? Are they, in Christo, called to fulfill God’s promise and prophetic word to Abraham in Gen. 18:18, reiterated to Jacob at Bethel in Gen. 28:14?
It would appear to be the case. The early Jewish disciples and churches in Acts, approved by the Council of Jerusalem, purposely preached for the first time the answer to Jewish messianic prophecy to those out side of God’s chosen. A message of salvation through Christ Jesus to the pagans in their communities. We see recorded in the scriptures the model for those disciples to come. The missionary charge intended to be lead by God’s chosen and now being completed by the wild grafted branch. We should take the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32 to heart when considering this topic and remember that what God plans and desires will eventually come to pass no matter how stiffed necked we are. He is long suffering and we often forget that His patience is a great sign of His great mercy for all.
God’s chosen still have this mission and these archetypes to lead them to reaching the gentile nation. We who are not born Jewish stand with the sons of Abraham in the goal and God still calls the Jewish nation He loves to pursue that call. God’s will, will be done. Jesus never backed away from them or turned His back because of their stiff necks. They are still sons, prodigal sons, who the Father will one day see returning home. They will take their rightful place and receive the ring, cloak, and the feast. Will we receive them with joy and gladness with the father or as the angry bother? Will we see the parable from the perspective of the father or the sons?
While the history of the Jewish people may reveal a stiff-necked people often set against the purposes and call of God, this seems to be a very human quality. As Jesus asked in John 8:7, which of you can throw the first stone? We all have the disease, and it is especially apparent in those whom God has called and gifted. Can you honestly say you aren’t stiff-necked somewhere in your life. When we read what Paul says about the Jews and the Gentiles in Romans, the Gentiles certainly have no cause for arrogance or self-satisfaction.
We often treat the Old Testament and Jewish people as if they’re old news or not important like the New Testament or today’s largely Gentile church. When was the last time you prayed for the Jewish people or read the Old Testament? God did not change his mind with regard to his call to the Jewish people. This too is clear from Romans. Also, consider the principle set forth so concisely in Romans 11:29: “the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable”.
We should take this to heart and hold it close. We should apply it to others as we desire to apply it to ourselves. Are we not to love our neighbors as ourselves? Who should you put first and pray for first? People may falter and fail. This is no surprise to God who foresees all; it all works into his great plan. And a fundamental element of that great plan is that our God is able and willing to heal, restore, and ultimately establish every good thing which he has promised. All the time lavished on preparing the Jewish people, was not and will not be wasted. God has used the Jews to evangelize the world and he will further use them to bring about his ultimate purposes.
Of course, the parable of the talents makes two points: that we all should use our talents and also that it is possible for persons to bury theirs. We also know that it is quite possible for persons to fail. There have been many failures in Israel, even in her royal line. But God’s purpose is not and will not be thwarted – and in this the Jewish people have a special part to play.
Take this to heart as you see failures in our lives, our families, our parishes, and our Catholic Church. God’s plan will not be thwarted. His blessings and grace will have it’s perfect result. Be patient with yourself and others. Pray, share, teach, love. Our faithfulness and long suffering is a torch we must pass to the next generation in the Catholic Church. The Church Christ promised to protect for all time. We know His promises are true and steadfast. We can and often should distrust ourselves and our intensions but never the promises of God.
- Matthew 16:18 promises us that the gates of Hell shall not prevail against the Church.
- Acts 5:34-39 relates the speech of a pharisee named Gamliel on the Christian Church. I think the fact that Dr. Luke gives us this speech in the book of Acts is because he believes the argument is correct. He says, essentially, that if the Christians are the true way, then they cannot perish from the Earth.
- In Mat 28:19-20 Christ says that he will be with us always.
- In John 10:28-29 Christ tells us that his sheep cannot be snatched from his (or his Father’s) hand. The flock cannot be lost.
- In John 14:18 Christ says he will not leave us orphaned, and thus we will assume that he will always give the Church guidance.
- In Luke 2:30-33 the angel promises that there will be no end to Christ’s kingdom.