"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]

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Fr. Campbell, “House of God and Gate of Heaven” (Gn.28:17)

“House of God and Gate of Heaven” (Gn.28:17)  

Fr. Campbell 

Before Our Lord Jesus Christ ascended to the Father, He sent His Apostles out to preach the Gospel:

“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you…” (Mt.28:19,20).

The purpose of the Old Testament religion had now been fulfilled, since the Messiah had come and established His Church. But the Jewish religious leaders did not accept Jesus as the Messiah, and they could not believe in the mystery of the Holy Trinity. They continued to worship in their Temple as before, offering animal sacrifices to a God they did not know, and praying for a Messiah who would never come. Jesus, their true Messiah whom they had rejected, had wept over Jerusalem and commented on its fate:

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem! thou who killest the prophets and stonest those who are sent to thee! How often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen gathers her young under her wings, but thou wouldst not! Behold, your house is left to you desolate” (Mt.23:37,38).

The desolation of the city would be complete forty years after Our Lord’s Resurrection, when the Romans would destroy Jerusalem and the Temple within it, leaving not even a stone upon a stone. The exiled Jews would be left without a Temple and without a priesthood. They would have only their teachers of the Law, their rabbis. There would be no more prophets like Isaiah, and no more kings like David.

What we call Judaism today is no longer the same religion that existed in the time of Jesus. The central text of modern Judaism is the Babylonian Talmud, which received its final form in the sixth century A.D. Yet the Jews believe that one day the Temple will be restored, the priesthood will be reinstituted, and animal sacrifice will once more be offered to God in the Holy Place of the Temple. But when Our Lord spoke to the woman at the well in Samaria, He had already foretold the end of the worship of God in Jerusalem:

“Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain (Gerizim) nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father… God is spirit, and they who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth” (Jn.4:21;24).

But this does not deter the Jews and the Evangelical Christians of America from being wildly enthusiastic about the building of a Third Temple. This is especially true now that Donald Trump has moved the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. Speaking at the official ceremony of its opening, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke repeatedly of the Temple, and then said, with emphasis, “The Temple Mount is in our hands.” Plans for the rebuilding of the Temple are well underway, and the Evangelical preachers in the U.S. are collecting huge amounts of money from their bedazzled flocks to help pay for it. Preparations for restored Temple worship include the finding of the required red heifer. Not just any red cow will do. Even a single white hair will disqualify her.

The Jews also hope to recover the Ark of the Covenant to place in the Temple Holy of Holies. The Ark was a container of wood overlaid with gold, in which the tablets of the Ten Commandments were kept. The Ark was lost when it was hidden away by Jeremiah to protect it from desecration by the enemies of the Jews.

But how could the Temple worship be restored? The reinstitution of animal sacrifice would be an affront to God. After God’s Divine Son, Jesus Christ, has shed His Precious Blood to atone for the sins of the world, how could God accept “the blood of goats and bulls and the sprinkled ashes of a heifer” (Heb.9:13) as a sacrifice for sin? God Himself signaled the end of Temple worship at the moment Jesus died on the Cross, as we read in the Gospel of St. Matthew:

“But Jesus again cried out with a loud voice, and gave up his spirit. And behold, the curtain of the Temple was torn in two from top to bottom…”  (Mt.27:50,51).

Why, then, do even the Evangelical Christians campaign for the restoration of the Temple if God no longer chooses to dwell in the Holy of Holies? Well, the Jews themselves believe that they can rebuild the Temple and reinstitute Temple worship and the sacrificing of animals. And Evangelical Christians believe that there must be a Temple in Jerusalem because they think the Messiah will return and enter the Temple. But there will be no Third Temple in Jerusalem.

We must look elsewhere for the Temple. And, behold, here it is, right before our eyes. Within it is the Ark of the Covenant, and the Holy of Holies in which God still dwells among His people. Look at any true Catholic Church, few as they are in these days. Look up into the sanctuary. There you see the Altar of Sacrifice, with the Tabernacle in which God dwells in the Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist. To the left and the right of the Altar we see the adoring angels, the cherubim, just as they knelt in adoration at each side of the ancient Ark of the Covenant.

This mystery began when the Blessed Virgin Mary gave her consent to be the Mother of the Messiah, and immediately began her journey through the hills of Judea, just as the ancient Ark traveled in the time of King David. As Mary greeted her cousin Elizabeth upon arriving at her home, the infant John the Baptist jumped for joy in Elizabeth’s womb, just as David danced before the ancient Ark as it arrived at its destination in the Tabernacle, the tent David had prepared for it on Mount Sion. We now worship God in the holy Tabernacle on our Altar, offering Him true worship in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. As the patriarch Jacob exclaimed after his dream of the ladder reaching up to Heaven:

“How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven” (Gn.28:17).