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AHC G The Coming of the Promised Messiah - Hebrew Catholics

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“The Gospel to Every Creature”

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One Hebrew Catholic’s Perspective 

 

The Coming of the Promised Messiah

Unit 3

Step 1   Suggested Reading:

                       We strongly recommend the reading of at least this brief
                       article (1).

  •      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.

     They are:-

     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

CALL PROCLAMATION

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
and 1: 30 — 35

LOVING
RESPONSE

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
and unconditional resignation to God’s will.

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.
In verses 39 — 55 Elizabeth’s greeting acknowledges prophetically the new life Mary bears. Mary responds in her Magnificat linking the event to the promise God made
to Abraham.

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

I

JESUS

PROCLAIMS
GOD’S MESSAGE
OF LOVE and Calls
Disciples
to
Follow Him. 

 • He has come to call
and deliver us from
all that enslaves us,
isolates us, limits us
and separates us
from God.

• He has come to
fulfill prophecy in
loving obedience
to His Father and
to sacrifice His life
for our eternal
salvation.

 

• 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.

II

JESUS

FOLLOWS
HIS FATHER’S
WILL
PERFECTLY

 

 • Jesus follows
perfectly the
Path for God’s
People which He
provides in
His Law / Torah.

• In His obedience
to His Father’s Will,
Jesus underwent
His Passion and
sacrificial death for
our sake as well as
that of all humanity.

 

• Jesus thus models for us the Love we owe God as our first obligation as members of His Family and Household.

III

JESUS

ROSE FROM THE
DEAD
and LIVES
Forever

 

• Jesus rose to
live with us and
for us ― to give us
life to the full:
HIS LIFE.

 • He ascended into
heaven to prepare
a place for us.
He sends the
Holy Spirit to assist
us and prepare us
for service to God
and equip us finally
to be with Him.

• 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?

In Brief

Remember what we are ― We are Christians ― that is,
followers of Jesus Christ, learning to live the way He taught us!

I

Listen to the Messiah
and His message of
life to the full and
let it dwell in us richly.

II

Follow His Commands
in loving response.
Die sacrificially

with Him!

III

Rise with Him
and
Live
abundantly
in Him!

More Fully

LISTEN

• He calls us, invites us
  to follow Him in a
  journey away from
  enslavement to
  ungodly beliefs and
  practices none of
  which lead to true
  happiness.

• With the help of the
  Holy Spirit we embark
  on this a journey of
  returning to God
  helping and
  encourageing one
  another.

• We listen and
  respond
  wholeheartedly to Him
  and follow His path ―
  a journey out of
  darkness into light.

 

 

 

- – – – – – – – – -

   This journey includes
   learning to pray, to
   study, to worship, to
   celebrate and to
   recover a new sense
   of hope and
   enjoyment of life.

LOVE

• Jesus bids us to take
  up our cross daily and
  follow Him.

  In this way we prove
  our love for God and
  for our neighbours.

 

• We follow Jesus by
  uniting our will with
  His and obeying
  His commandments.

 

• We thus die daily to
  our own selfishness,
  self-importance,
  limitations and
  indulgence. We do
  this in union with
  His own death.

 

 

- – – – – – – -

   We die to self as
   we give priority to
   helping other people.
   Thus we listen to
   their stories of pain,
   hurt, deprivation,
   anger,despair,
   loneliness: and do
   what we can to
   redress injustice
   and oppression.

LIVE

• We share in His
  Risen LIFE as
  members of His
  Household, even in
  this world.

 

• We begin to
  experience
  ABUNDANT LIFE
  in the full which is a
  preparation for our
  LIFE with Him in
  Heaven.

• He will return to bring
  the whole of God’s
  plan to consummation
  and glorious
  fulfillment.
  Meanwhile He
  commands us to live
  by Gospel values and
  take these out and
  share them with
  “every creature” in
  preparation for His
  Glorious Return.

- – – – – – – – – -

   This is something we
   do as members of
   God’s Household in
   the company of
   His Family.

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.

 

Summary

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
we use to describe
God’s actions and interactions with people.
We use this very basic model because it demonstrates a dynamic
“image” of God.

Our God is not just some image (in our minds or in artworks.)
of a sweet old
white-haired man looking down upon us from
the clouds above. To some of
us He is certainly that: but He is
also much more. He is a dynamic God ―
bursting with energy
and zealous love for us. He speaks to us ― not in ways
we
cannot understand ― but always in a message of love, calling
us back to
Him and providing a Way (via His instructions and
teaching) leading us to
fullness of LIFE. This dynamic model of
interaction is manifest in many ways
which help us relate to
God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit ― and help us to pass on the

benefits of our personal experience and relationship.

 

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