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X - WHY THE JEWS STILL MATTER

August 14, 2017

I will start off by making this statement. Jesus Christ is absolutely the only Way to Heaven. As I have stated elsewhere, Jesus Christ is Heaven. Heaven is where Jesus Christ is. That’s it, there are no caveats to this.

 

This means that if someone is born into a Jewish family, and they continue to reject Jesus Christ, it means they are rejecting Heaven. A soul in the state of rejection of Jesus Christ cannot enter Heaven. They are incompatible.

 

The second point I must affirm is that the Catholic Church is the Church established by Jesus Christ on earth. Its Head is Christ, and the Vicar of Christ, whom we call the Pope, is Christ’s stand-in, His representative, viceroy, keeper of the keys. This Church is the earthly institution wherein Christ is truly Present: “…and I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.” [Matthew 28:20]

 

Let’s use this to illustrate a point. We have here an apparent contradiction, one that occurs in multiple contexts, but one that is easily cleared up by viewing it in the light of Catholic dogma. Two chapters prior, Jesus had said this:

 

And when Jesus was in Bethania, in the house of Simon the leper, there came to him a woman having an alabaster box of precious ointment, and poured it on his head as he was at table. And the disciples seeing it, had indignation, saying: To what purpose is this waste? For this might have been sold for much, and given to the poor. And Jesus knowing it, said to them: Why do you trouble this woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me. For the poor you have always with you: but me you have not always. For she in pouring this ointment upon my body, hath done it for my burial. [Matthew 26:6-12]

 

So, here, Jesus says “…me you have not always”, but in the last verse of the Gospel He says, “…and I am with you all days”. How do we reconcile this?

 

In the same way, we reconcile the apparent contradictions of John chapter 6.

 

In John chapter 6, we read the narrative of Jesus’ performing the miracle of the feeding of the 5000, with just 5 loaves and 2 fish. The multitude want to make Jesus a king, and so He flees to a mountain. That night, Jesus not with them, the disciples get in a ship on the Sea of Galilee and make for Capernaum. While they are out on the sea, Jesus performs the miracle of walking on the water. The following morning, the same people Jesus fed come down to the sea to look for them, but they are not there. They get into boats to go to Capernaum to find Him again, and they ask Him why He left. Jesus remonstrates with them. He tells them they didn’t seek Him out because of the miracles they saw, but because they ate and were filled. He tells them the work of God is to believe on Him Whom God sent. He then calls Himself the bread of life, come down from Heaven.

 

They say they know him, he’s the son of Joseph, how can he say he came down from Heaven?

 

Jesus takes it further. He says the bread He gives is His flesh, which He will give for the life of the world. (1) [John 6:52]

 

It says they now “strove among themselves.” “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” [John 6:53]

Rather than explain it as a symbol, Jesus says 6 more times, so that we have 7 explicit statements from Jesus Christ in a row that His flesh must be eaten:

 

Then Jesus said to them: Amen, amen I say unto you: Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you. (2) He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath everlasting life: and I will raise him up in the last day. (3) For my flesh is meat indeed: and my blood is drink indeed. (4) He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, abideth in me, and I in him.  (5) As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth me, the same also shall live by me. (6) This is the bread that came down from heaven. Not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead. He that eateth this bread, shall live for ever. (7) [John 6:54-59]

 

Following this, many of His disciples hear of this teaching, and they say, “This saying is hard, and who can hear it?” [v. 61] Jesus asks them, “Doth this scandalize you?” [v. 62] and then He issues the one statement our Protestant friends do remember:

 

If then you shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? It is the spirit that quickeneth: the flesh profiteth nothing. The words that I have spoken to you, are spirit and life. [John 6:63-64]

 

The allusion here is clearly to His Ascension, which occurs 40 days after His Resurrection. We are told in multiple places that His bodily Ascension represents a different state than His earthly body, even following His Resurrection. He does not will that His body be touched by a woman:

 

Jesus saith to [Mary Magdalen]: Do not touch me, for I am not yet ascended to my Father. But go to my brethren, and say to them: I ascend to my Father and to your Father, to my God and your God. [John 20:17]

 

He bears the marks of the wounds of His crucifixion (and is okay with being touched by a man):

 

Now Thomas, one of the twelve, who is called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said to him: We have seen the Lord. But he said to them: Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe. And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them. Jesus cometh, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said: Peace be to you. Then he saith to Thomas: Put in thy finger hither, and see my hands; and bring hither thy hand, and put it into my side; and be not faithless, but believing. Thomas answered, and said to him: My Lord, and my God. [John 20:24-28]

 

He has a body, and is not a spirit:

 

Now whilst they were speaking these things, Jesus stood in the midst of them, and saith to them: Peace be to you; it is I, fear not. But they being troubled and frightened, supposed that they saw a spirit. And he said to them: Why are you troubled, and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? See my hands and feet, that it is I myself; handle, and see: for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as you see me to have. And when he had said this, he shewed them his hands and feet. [Luke 24:36-40]

 

He can even eat:

 

But while they yet believed not, and wondered for joy, he said: Have you any thing to eat? And they offered him a piece of a broiled fish, and a honeycomb. And when he had eaten before them, taking the remains, he gave to them. [Luke 24:41-43]

 

So what happens at the Ascension? The Acts of the Apostles relates it:

 

And when he had said these things, while they looked on, he was raised up: and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they were beholding him going up to heaven, behold two men stood by them in white garments. Who also said: Ye men of Galilee, why stand you looking up to heaven? This Jesus who is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come, as you have seen him going into heaven. [Acts 1:9-11]

 

So Jesus ascends bodily up to Heaven. What do we know about His body in Heaven? We are shown it in two places. At the Mount of the Transfiguration, and in the book of Revelation.

 

And after six days Jesus taketh unto him Peter and James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into a high mountain apart: And he was transfigured before them. And his face did shine as the sun: and his garments became white as snow. And behold there appeared to them Moses and Elias talking with him. [Matthew 17:1-3]

 

In His transfigured state, His face shines as the sun, and His garments are white as snow.

 

And in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks, one like to the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the feet, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. And his head and his hairs were white, as white wool, and as snow, and his eyes were as a flame of fire, And his feet like unto fine brass, as in a burning furnace. And his voice as the sound of many waters. {Revelation 1:13-15]

 

His head and His hairs are white as white wool and as snow, His eyes are as a flame of fire, and His feet are like fine brass in a burning furnace. Clearly, His transfigured body is different from His earthly body.

 

So, put this all together, and we can conclude that there was a distinction between Jesus’ earthly body and His ascended, and transfigured, body. With this, we can go back to John 6:

 

If then you shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? It is the spirit that quickeneth: the flesh profiteth nothing. The words that I have spoken to you, are spirit and life. [John 6:63-64]

 

What Jesus says here is not a contradiction of His statements that His disciples must eat His flesh and drink His blood. He is referring to their carnal, fleshly understanding of His words. They think that He means they are to eat His earthly body, to cannibalize it. He differentiates for them, “If then you shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?” He words it in a somewhat obscure way, by asking it as a question, because a) it is not yet time for Him to reveal this deep truth; and b) it is not for them to know, because they do not have the faith. When He turns to the twelve, He even challenges them:

 

Then Jesus said to the twelve: Will you also go away? And Simon Peter answered him: Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we have believed and have known, that thou art the Christ, the Son of God. [John 6:68-70]

 

Simon Peter, once again, shows why he was chosen to lead them. He doesn’t know what Jesus means by what He says here, yet he once again asserts the Truth, and again, purely through faith, as He did at Caesarea Phillipi.

 

 [The Sacrament of the Last Supper, 1955, Salvador Dali]

 

So, now, let’s step back up in the outline. When Jesus says to the disciples, “For the poor you have always with you: but me you have not always”, [Matthew 26:11] He means they will not have Him there as they see Him, fleshly and earthly. When He says, “…and I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world”, [Matthew 28:20] He is referring to His Presence in the Holy Sacrament, wherein He is present on earth as He is in Heaven, in His ascended, transfigured body.

 

So, how does this relate to the Jews? We must keep in mind that the world, outside the Catholic Church (and possibly the Eastern Orthodox, who have valid Orders and a valid Eucharist, but let’s keep this easy), has no participation in His ascended, transfigured body. Just as we, the Church Militant on earth, are not yet the Church Triumphant in Heaven, and although we have a participation in that higher reality through Holy Communion, we can still lose it through commission of mortal sin; so those of the world are not the Church except in potential, which they can gain by joining the Catholic Church. Why do I add this? Because the Church, in Scripture and in her Catechism, admits as much regarding the Jews.

 

First, let me make the point that it would be wrong to say that a fulfillment of Biblical prophecy is an “innovation” or a “new revelation”. We expect the Second Advent of Christ because He prophesied His return. Thus, if the return of the Jewish people to Israel was prophesied, it can’t be seen as some new teaching or new revelation. We have several reasons to believe we are coming to the end of our age, and one sign is the return of Israel. Rather than rail against it we should rejoice over it.

 

For I would not have you ignorant, brethren, of this mystery, (lest you should be wise in your own conceits), that blindness in part has happened in Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles should come in. And so all Israel should be saved, as it is written: There shall come out of Sion, he that shall deliver, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob. And this is to them my covenant: when I shall take away their sins. As concerning the gospel, indeed, they are enemies for your sake: but as touching the election, they are most dear for the sake of the fathers. For the gifts and the calling of God are without repentance. For as you also in times past did not believe God, but now have obtained mercy, through their unbelief; So these also now have not believed, for your mercy, that they also may obtain mercy. For God hath concluded all in unbelief, that he may have mercy on all. O the depth of the riches of the wisdom and of the knowledge of God! How incomprehensible are his judgments, and how unsearchable his ways! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? Or who hath been his counsellor? Or who hath first given to him, and recompense shall be made him? [Romans 11:25-35]

 

I’ll let that stand for now, as I bring to bear the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

 

The glorious advent of Christ, the hope of Israel

 

673 Since the Ascension Christ's coming in glory has been imminent, even though "it is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has fixed by his own authority." This eschatological coming could be accomplished at any moment, even if both it and the final trial that will precede it are "delayed".

 

674 The glorious Messiah's coming is suspended at every moment of history until his recognition by "all Israel", for "a hardening has come upon part of Israel" in their "unbelief" toward Jesus. St. Peter says to the Jews of Jerusalem after Pentecost: "Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for establishing all that God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old." St. Paul echoes him: "For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead?" The "full inclusion" of the Jews in the Messiah's salvation, in the wake of "the full number of the Gentiles", will enable the People of God to achieve "the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ", in which "God may be all in all".

 

So, by the witness of her own Catechism, the Catholic Church admits that the Jews continue to have a purpose in God’s revelation. It is not a “new revelation” because it is in the Bible, foretold by Moses in Deuteronomy, by several of the Old Testament prophets, by Jesus, and by St. Paul.

 

So, why in God’s great revelation of Himself in history does He still have a place for the Jews? What do the Jews represent in this revelation?

 

The Jews, the Chosen People, were chosen to show to the world the manifestation of the spiritual judgment. Christ was God, Who took on Himself flesh, and His flesh was tortured and crucified, to show the chosen people during the time of His visitation what was in store for them. Those Jews who received baptism into His death risked a similar fate in this life, but glory in the next. Those Jews who did not receive baptism into His death were chosen to show the fate of those in the world who rejected Him. When Jesus hung on the cross, He was crowned with thorns and the sign above it read, “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews”, and it was accurate. Jesus began the diasporic march of the Jews. The Jews, as He did, would experience persecution, and ultimately, they would experience their own crucifixion, in the Holocaust.

 

The Holocaust was God’s revelation of Hell to the world. It showed us, in the flesh, what awaits us in the spirit, if we reject the Son of God. The world should tremble greatly, because the Holocaust showed how really serious the spiritual battle is. Evil and Hell are real. In the flesh, if God did not spare His Son, He also did not spare His people. I said elsewhere that the Jews needed to continue as a people, to keep a remembrance of the Passover in the world. Without knowledge of the Passover, Hebrew pesach, we have no knowledge of the precursor to the Passion of the Christ. We have a conundrum as profound as that of the need for a Suffering Christ. The Jews were needed as a witness to the Old Covenant, despite the Christ’s fulfilling it, because of how quickly we would have forgotten it. To be an effective witness, the Jews needed to suffer the punishment, to show the world the consequence of rejecting Christ, but God is Just and would not punish in the hereafter those whose eyes He Himself kept blind for that very purpose.

 

But doesn’t this let the Jews “off easy” in a way that the rest of the world is not? Aren’t I just covering for my biological people out of sentiment, or political correctness, or even misplaced sympathy? I would agree with that, and I would just accept that I am one of the lucky ones whose eyes were opened, if it were not for the evidence of St. Paul’s epistle to the Romans. Read it again, you who are the Romans, the Gentiles:

 

As concerning the gospel, indeed, they are enemies for your sake: but as touching the election, they are most dear for the sake of the fathers. For the gifts and the calling of God are without repentance. For as you also in times past did not believe God, but now have obtained mercy, through their unbelief; So these also now have not believed, for your mercy, that they also may obtain mercy. For God hath concluded all in unbelief, that he may have mercy on all.

 

The Jews are enemies for the sake of you Gentiles. But they are most dear for the sake of the fathers. You Gentiles, who did not believe God in times past, have now obtained mercy through the Jews’ unbelief. “So these (Jews) also now have not believed, for your mercy, that they also may obtain mercy.”

 

St. Paul says this is a mystery. We take his word for everything else. Don’t doubt him on this.

 

As for the Jews, don’t take this as an excuse for complacency. God expects more of those to whom He reveals more. If you know the truth of the Church and continue to reject Her, you are culpable. You are the elder brother. Don’t take your birthright for granted. Remember Esau.

 

 

 

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