"And I beheld, and heard the voice of one eagle flying through the midst of heaven,
saying with a loud voice: Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth....
[Apocalypse (Revelation) 8:13]

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Fr. Campbell- “And a little Child shall lead them” (Is.11:6)

Fr. Campbell- “And a little Child shall lead them” (Is.11:6)

We are told in today’s Gospel that John, the son of Zachary and Elizabeth, preaching in the area of the River Jordan, called the people to repentance for the remission of sin. He baptized those who came to him in the waters of the Jordan. It was not the Sacrament of Baptism which was later instituted by Christ. It was merely symbolic of the cleansing power of God’s forgiveness for those who would repent.   

God’s salvation would come when God would send His Son, born of the Holy Virgin Mary, to be the Savior of the world. All who are of good will, in the biblical sense, recognize Jesus Christ and accept Him as the promised Savior. As the ancient Simeon would say, taking the Child Jesus in his arms when He was presented in the Temple by Mary and Joseph: “…my eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all peoples: a light of revelation to the gentiles, and a glory for thy people Israel” (Lk.2:29-32).

However, not all of Israel would recognize Him or accept Him. As St. John says in the beginning of his Gospel, “his own received him not. But to as many as received him he gave the power of becoming sons of God; to those who believe in his name: who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (Jn.1:11-13).

Just in time for Christmas, the Vatican Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews has published a new official document, for which Francis Bergoglio is receiving plaudits. The document begins with the words: “The Gifts and the Calling of God are Irrevocable”. It asserts that the salvation of the Jews does not depend on them believing in Jesus Christ, but on the original promises of God, which “cannot be revoked”. Their salvation is therefore assured, and they do not have to “believe and be baptized” (Mk.16:16), like the rest of the human race.

Right at the beginning we can affirm that it is true that “God’s promises are irrevocable”. What the document fails to point out is that the promises God made to the Jews of old are conditional. There is a great big “if” clause attached to them. There are two sides to every covenant. Either side may break it. God will be faithful! Will the Jews?

The Covenant God made with the Jews, or with the Hebrews as they were then called, is spelled out in detail in Sacred Scripture in the Books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy. If the people keep God’s Commandments they will be blessed:

“If you live in accordance with my precepts and are careful to observe my commandments…    you will have food to eat in abundance, so that you may dwell securely in your land (Lev.26:3-5)… But if you do not heed me and do not keep all these commandments, if you reject my precepts and spurn my decrees, refusing to obey all my commandments and breaking my covenant… I will punish you with terrible woes…” (Lev.26:14-16).

The covenant woes of Leviticus are grouped in four sets of seven chastisements. If the people failed to repent after the first chastisements, they would suffer seven more severe punishments. After the third set, if they were still unrepentant, God’s patience would be exhausted, and they would have to endure the final set of seven terrible woes.  
Israel’s ultimate act of defiance against God was its rejection of Jesus Christ as the promised Messiah, which broke their Covenant with God and merited for them the final seven-fold covenant woes. Their sentencing was announced by Jesus Himself when He thundered the seven woes against the Scribes and the Pharisees, declaring that upon them would come “all the just blood that has been shed on the earth” and that “all these things will come upon this generation” (Mt.23:33-36).
Our Lord had already put the unbelievers in their place when He declared:

“Bring forth therefore fruit befitting repentance, and do not think to say within yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father’; for I say to you that  God is able out of these stones to raise up children to Abraham” (Mt.3:8,9).
But in the meantime, God has fulfilled His promises: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, that those who believe in him may not perish, but may have life everlasting” (Jn.3:16).The promises were not made to the blood descendants of Abraham, but to the heirs of Abraham by faith, as St. Paul makes clear:

“Know therefore that the men of faith are the real sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, announced to Abraham beforehand, ‘In thee shall all the nations be blessed.’ Therefore the men of faith shall be blessed with faithful Abraham” (Gal.3:7-9).    

Carrying the genes of Abraham counts for nothing. Jesus Christ is Abraham’s heir. Those who believe in Him have the faith of Abraham. What does this say about the honesty and truthfulness of the Vatican unbelievers who are responsible for the recent document, including the one under whose authority it was published, Francis Bergoglio?

Those who hate our Lord Jesus Christ are working day and night to blot out even the memory of Him from our minds. Christmas has long been separated from its true meaning as the celebration of the Savior’s Birth in Bethlehem. The Santa Claus myth, based loosely on the true story of St. Nicholas, has been used to replace the Nativity. And now it’s no longer “Merry Christmas”, it’s “Happy Holidays!” But it is our joy to announce the Birth of the Christ Child, as Isaiah prophesied:

“And there shall come forth a rod out of the root of Jesse; and a flower shall rise up out of his root. And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him… And justice shall be the girdle of his loins: and faith the girdle of his reins. The wolf shall dwell with the lamb: and the leopard shall lie down with the kid. The calf and the lion and the sheep shall abide together: and a little Child shall lead them” (Is.11:1,2a;5,6).