“The Gospel to Every Creature”
Our Christian Vocation
One Hebrew Catholic’s Perspective
The Gospel to Every Creature is an attempt to present a Hebrew Catholic explanation of our zeal to perform an all-important command from the Lord Jesus:
“Go into the whole world and preach the Gospel to every creature”.
This binding obligation was placed upon the Apostles united to our Lord, and through them, to all who followed Him, down through the ages.
The command of our Lord to all members of His Body, the Church through the Apostles is not an isolated, last minute add-on to His teaching ministry. It is a culmination of a long line of proclamation and prophecy, beginning with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, then Moses, the long line of Prophets, and the momentous obedience of our Lady to the will of God presented to her leading to our Lord’s coming as Messiah — and then as fulfillment of His teaching, passion, death and resurrection. Throughout this whole long, unfolding process, there stands out God’s loving call for all people to return to His household, and live in His presence. This is the essential core of our evangelism.
The Hebrew Catholic Apostolate takes the Lord’s command, indeed mitzvah (obligation), very seriously to heart. In doing so, the paradox is that this mobilises within each one a profound sense of fulfillment of all our heartfelt spiritual yearning. What follows this introduction is an outline of how we arrive at our motivation regarding the Church’s obligation to evangelise the world, tracing our path from its beginning: the call of Abraham. Approaching the process in this way allows the “journey” to unfold before us rather than attempt to begin at the end and trace the foundation of Christ’s mission back to its origins. To do this in a Hebrew Catholic setting would be like looking through binoculars the wrong way round: seeing the long line of God’s saving action reducing increasingly to virtual oblivion. In fact, in a Hebrew Catholic perspective, even the ancient interventions of God are present before us in full view, power and significance! As we shall see in the following pages, God’s progressive interventions are not just a sequence of new steps. They follow a fundamental pattern which exerts a cumulative effect down through the ages to our own time. Thus we, today, are organically linked as part of this great outreach to all humanity, culminating in our Lord’s final command before ascending into Heaven (See Unit 5). We are called to perform a full active role in God’s outreach. We are — each one of us — an integral part of His reaching out. The whole of our religious history makes it abundantly clear: there are no part-time positions available. In our day, as it was in Abraham’s, Moses’ and our Lord’s — it is all or nothing, and God seeks our heart’s full commitment to His mission. Yes, it is mitzvah — but that also implies it means fulfillment and great honour in being enlisted as a member of His personal household, and enjoying full access to His Presence.
- Readers will recognise the thread of the magnificent Covenant theme throughout the units. A covenant (berit in Hebrew) is a promise requiring obedience of stipulated terms. We have carefully focussed on the inner dynamic of the Covenants mentioned rather than debate theological issues regarding success or failure, continuity, efficacy and so on. Important as these matters are, they belong to other contexts of education and training.We have taken this approach, rightly or wrongly, as experience has demonstrated that it is critically important to approach the study of the Covenants — not as cold, abstract, legal or even geometric-like constructions, but rather as the means by which God invites His people to enter into a family partnership with Him.
“It wasn’t simply a matter of obeying rules — God didn’t just
want the Jews to follow a particular set of laws, but to live
their lives in such a way as to show the world that God
actually was the one and only all-powerful God, whom
people should follow and worship.” (BBC article on Judaism)
We have therefore tried, in this programme, to draw from the whole of
Sacred Scripture some of the powerful insights it offers as we prepare
to share the Gospel message with “every creature”.
2. We are seeking here a very basic fundamental pattern which will guide
the building of an arsenal of essential skills equipping all who associate
with us in both defending and expanding the Church and Faith in our
contemporary world. Our focus here is on “skills” and “values”,
whatever “content” is encompassed.
3. The mode of presentation reflects an intention to provide small-group
leaders or any interested person with a self-directed introduction to
some key Biblical themes. Hopefully it will offer a skeletal framework
around which much other important material can be positioned to
heighten understanding and strengthen our personal response to God’s
call in a noisy and confusing world.
4. Some of these revised notes (with the original ‘primitive’ blackboard sketches
untouched) were originally prepared in the early and mid 1960’s
when the “Kerygmatic” approach was the catch phrase with its
attendant Greek labels such as “Kerygma” (Message), “Diakonia”
(Service), and “Koinonia” (Fellowship). These terms need not
concern us. We are really just wanting to understand the common
threads throughout Sacred Scripture together with their links in
liturgical structures. Hopefully we will then be able to see how our
study material has been assembled in a way which guides our approach
to training for Christian life and service in societies which are
increasingly becoming, directly or indirectly hostile to both Judaism
5. Finally, these notes are repetitive in order to assist readers to focus
on some of the key ideas presented.
Guided Reading is attached to some of the following units. Units 1 and 2 offer important stories from the Old Testament without which it is unthinkable to discuss Hebrew Catholic spirituality. The accounts keep faithfully to the Biblical texts. However, to assist the reader gather all that is necessary, the stories have been assembled as a continuous narrative providing the necessary material without a flood of detail which can always be added later. They are vital for understanding how God interacts with His people. Where practicable we have indicated sections of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and encourage readers to read these carefully. Our notes always assume the material in the Guided Reading has been read, or at least is reasonably well known.
Let’s Get Underway
Most of us think we know the account of Adam and Eve fairly well. It deserves our attentive reflection at regular intervals, as it contains an enormous wealth of material. For now we will begin our trek by recalling how Adam and Eve were placed in the beautiful Garden of Eden to care for it and live in blessed union with God and all creation. We suggest you read Genesis 3: 1 — 15, the account of their temptation and fall from grace. We wanted to draw attention to verse 15 as the first glimmer of hope of restoration of God’s order. It is often referred to as the “Proto-evangelium”, (Latin) meaning forerunner of the Gospel.
For the Bible Student we reproduce a footnote on this verse from the New American Bible.
“He will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel.” Since the antecedent for he and his is the collective noun offspring, i.e. all the descendents of the woman, a more exact rendering of the sacred writer’s words would be, “They will strike…..at their heels”. However later theology saw in this passage more than unending hostility between snake and men. The serpent was regarded as the devil (Wisdom 2: 24; John 8: 44; Revelation 12: 9 and 20: 2), whose eventual defeat seems implied in the contrast between head and heal. Because “the Son of God appeared that He might destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3: 8), the passage can be understood as the first promise of a Redeemer for fallen mankind. The woman’s offspring then is primarily Jesus Christ.
We offer this little snippet of Biblical theology as it provides us with a starting point in tracing some of the high points in the long, unfolding plan of God to restore mankind to its intended union with the Creator. The call of Abraham sets the Plan in motion.