“The Gospel to Every Creature”
Our Christian Vocation
One Hebrew Catholic’s Perspective
The Coming of the Promised Messiah
Step 1 Suggested Reading:
- “Catechism of the Catholic Church” (Part 1, Section 1,
Chapter 2, Article 1)
We strongly recommend the reading of at least this brief
- Every reader will be aware that there are seemingly endless
books dealing with Christ’s life and fulfillment of Old Testament
prophecy. For those who wish to read more fully about our
Lord’s life and work, we offer two resources on-line which
present Biblical material with associated commentaries.
The Gospel Story, by Ronald Cox, C.M., S.T.L, S.S.L.
Waiting for Christ, by Ronald Cox, C.M., S.T.L, S.S.L.
- We also recommend some very special books which can be
read at one’s own pace as opportunities arise.
See: Four Special Books
Note: Written in the 1950’s these have been annotated to provide a Hebrew Catholic perspective in light of the Church’s teaching in such matters since the Second Vatican Council.
Step 2 Purpose of the Messiah’s Coming
In our exploration of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, let’s consider the purpose of our Lord’s coming. Amongst the myriad of quotations we could discuss, we have chosen just one in this treatment of our overview. We may have chosen what some will consider the “hardest” and who will likewise consider beyond all possible common agreement. Whilst it would be prudent to go carefully “where Angels fear to tread”, we need to embrace our Lord’s words fully, confidently, and with our heart’s full of gratitude.
“Do not think that I have come to set aside the Law and the
Prophets; I have not come to set them aside but to bring them
to perfection.” (Matt. 5: 17 — Knox)
(Many readers will be more familiar with “destroy” for “set aside”,
and “fulfill” for “bring to perfection”.)
The phrase, “to bring them to perfection” means literally to ensure the purpose for which they were given, is achieved ― is accomplished ― is fulfilled. Note, our Lord is not just talking of the Ten Commandments. He is talking of the “Law and the Prophets;” which, in this context really means all of God’s instruction, or teaching, outlined in the whole of the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) given to guide His people i.e. to provide them with a true, safe way to follow Him. Our Lord seeks to let everything they point towards, to be manifested in His actions and words. He, in fact, is what the whole of the Law and the Prophets point to. He is the living demonstration of all what they contain. He is Torah ― the Word of God in the flesh. (See John 1: 1 – 14) He is the Way which God’s Words of Love pointed towards.
Often, in this overview, we will refer to “Christ our Torah”; meaning, as we have said, that the Messiah, Jesus the Annointed One (i.e. the Christ) ― He is the Word of God ― the whole of God’s Message, Teaching, Law, in the flesh. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church says, “Christ, the Son of God made man, is the Father’s one, perfect and unsurpassable Word.”
Sadly, many Christians have become accustomed to thinking of the “Old Testament Law” as something negative, something unrealistically burdensome. This has come about first, because in our Lord’s time, shrewd opportunists among the Jewish hierarchy hijacked the Temple and its rituals and truly made the whole of Judaic Law and worship a heavy burden. It was a way this clique could oppress the people for personal gain and advantage. Our Lord reacted angrily to this and thus became a threat to the continuing rule of the selfish minority in power.
Jesus kept reminding the oppressive leaders in control, that the Law was primarily God’s Holy teaching, His instructions regarding life and worship for His people ― and that they were abusing it by weighing people down with burdens and obligations never intended by God. The Word of God was to give life, not take it.
Our Lord showed by word and action that His instruction, teaching, and interpretation of the Law, together with His personal religious practice ― all these restored the Law to its intended purpose ― to guide God’s people according to His Glory, along God’s intended Pathway towards their True Home with Him.
In this way, our Lord destroyed, abolished and set aside NOT the Law but only the irresponsible abuses of it. He, indeed, brought it to perfection by exemplifying perfectly in Himself all that the true Law stood for. He restored the Law, which thus became transformed in Him; in His life, death, and resurrection. This is one of the most important understandings we need to have. It is essential if we are to understand what our Lord meant by His claim: “I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.”
Most writers discussing this text will follow their commentary with what they consider to be a necessary reconciliation of our Lord’s words with the teaching of St Paul ― even sometimes arriving at a point of exasperation that the two sources seem to prevent us confidently believing Jesus really meant what He said. Such a situation is misleading and unnecessary. St Paul’s focus was on the difficult situation of the Gentile converts who were expected by some Jewish Christian stalwarts (well-intentioned but wrong) to become Jews in order to become followers of the Messiah. St. Paul went to great lengths to try and explain that all who are joined by baptism to Christ our Torah ― all fulfill the requirements of God’s Law by virtue of their being immersed into the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. They are then free to fulfill their obligations to God through their own cultural heritage, now magnificently transformed in and united to Christ: a Jewish heritage or a Gentile heritage ― but all transformed in the Light of Christ.
Those wanting to use St Paul’s letters as support for the belief that the Law is abrogated sometimes focus on the fact that Abraham existed before the Law was given at Sinai. That of course was true, but our approach is to see “the Law” as an expression of God’s instruction and on-going loving care for His people, and therefore an expression of His Divine Will requiring His People to follow. Thus Abraham, or more correctly, Abram as he was then called, “.…. put his faith in the Lord, who credited to him as an act of righteousness” (Genesis 15: 6). God made His Divine Will known, and Abram obeyed.
As already explained, our Lord likewise obeyed His Father’s Divine Will expressed in the Sinaitic Law ― not just precept by precept, but by fulfilling the original purpose of the whole Law. As the Word of God made flesh, He thus transformed the Law in His own life, death and resurrection.
In this way, our Lord did indeed achieve His purpose in bringing the Law to its intended perfection. There is no conflict between the teaching of our Lord in Matthew 5: 17 (above) and any other part of the Bible. As we know and repeat often, He went on to complete His mission by His passion, death, and resurrection: all to the glory of God, and our salvation, as well as that of all humanity.
Step 3 Overview of the Lord’s Ministry
Let us now consider the vast scope of Christ’s ministry, beginning with the example of His own mother.
3.1 Mother of Jesus
In this great unfolding of the coming of the Messiah and His loving service to God and mankind, there is a very beautiful prelude from St. Luke giving us the opening moments of His advent. It follows the prophetic model.
Ark of the Covenant
Mary listens attentively to the Angel’s announcement that she will be the mother of Jesus.
“He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
(Luke 1: 28 — 33)
Luke 1: 26 — 27
Mary, in her humble honestly, declares by way of response that she cannot understand how this could possibly come about. The Angel explains” “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.” (Luke 1: 34 — 35) The moment Mary comprehends what God requires, she immediately obeys, surrendering herself lovingly to His plan. She does not understand how it will occur but believes the word of the Angel who is God’s direct messenger.
Luke 1: 35 — 38 represent total
NEW LIFE NEW KINGDOM
Mary, at the moment of her total surrender to God’s will, conceives the Saviour of the world by the power of the Holy Spirit. He is the gift of New Life for the whole world. “And the word became flesh.” (John 1: 14) Mary exemplifies perfectly in her soul and her body the prophetic call throughout Salvation History:— “Listen, Love, Live.” She becomes the very “Ark of the Covenant“!
Luke 1: 31 — 33 reveals Mary’s child is to be Son of the Most High.
3.2 Our Messiah Is Our Model
From a reading of the four Gospels a sweeping overview of the public ministry of our Lord, we could summarise three significant action-streams, again following the prophetic model:
- Jesus calls disciples and proclaims God’s message of love.
- Jesus follows His Father’s Commandments and sacrifices His life for us.
- Jesus rises to New Life, ascends into Heaven, and sends the Holy Spirit to
help us live with Him.
We can expand this a little to show how Jesus exemplified in His life the core of the message He delivered. So let us look at this in diagrammatic overview, and note the pattern it reflects.
A Snapshot of the Messiah in Word and Action
• He has come to call
• He has come to
• He will rise from the dead to New Life and prepare a place for us in heaven: and will come again to restore the whole of creation.
• Jesus follows
• In His obedience
• Jesus thus models for us the Love we owe God as our first obligation as members of His Family and Household.
ROSE FROM THE
• Jesus rose to
• He ascended into
• He will return at the end of time to complete God’s plan of total restoration of all creation in the glorious Kingdom of His Son. The world has always been the Kingdom of He who created it. It is now for to recognise it as the vineyard of the Lord in which we are to apply every ability we have in His service, preparing it as we await His Glorious Return.
3.3 Disciples of Jesus Christ
How can we reflect this model?
Remember what we are ― We are Christians ― that is,
followers of Jesus Christ, learning to live the way He taught us!
Listen to the Messiah
Follow His Commands
Rise with Him
• He calls us, invites us
• With the help of the
• We listen and
- – – – – – – – – -
This journey includes
• Jesus bids us to take
In this way we prove
• We follow Jesus by
• We thus die daily to
- – – – – – – -
We die to self as
• We share in His
• We begin to
• He will return to bring
- – – – – – – – – -
This is something we
We invite you to reflect on the qualities our Lord, in His ministry, called on us to reflect in our lives so that we, on our part, might reflect His Gospel (His message) to the world. We suggest you note on these pages some of the qualities you value most and on which, you wish to reflect.
1. As in the accounts about Abraham, and then Moses, Jesus — mouthpiece of God His Father — proclaimed and taught what He had been sent to do. Then He carried out God’s will to the very best of His ability.
2. The core of His message can be summed up in three clear words: Listen — Love — Live. This message, clearly evident in God’s interaction with Abraham, Moses and Mary, mother of Jesus, now takes on a new level of spiritual unfolding.
In Unit 4 which follows we focus on the spiritual building-up of Christ’s members with special emphasis on celebrating the Eucharist (Mass), until He returns in glory.
Unit 5 turns to equipping members for our role, in the world, of not just taking Christ to the world, but as it were, being, Christ to every Creature.
In Unit 6, we look briefly at how the Church established by Jesus Messiah has continued to represent this message in its teaching, worship and Christian practice; and how membership of His Church inherently requires each one to do their utmost to make Christ known in the world.
Call Response Outcome
Readers will have, by now, recognised the three-phase formular
Our God is not just some image (in our minds or in artworks.)