By Pastor Julian Harris
Finally, he sent his son to them, thinking, ‘They will respect my son.’ But when the tenants saw the son, they said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and acquire his inheritance.’ They seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. (Matthew 21:37-39)
This parable recounts the history of salvation. God revealed Himself through supernatural signs and wonders and spoke through His servants the prophets, but in the fullness of time, through, with and in His Son Jesus Christ:
In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets; but in these last days He has spoken to us by a Son, whom He appointed the heir of all things, through Whom also He created the world. (Hebrews 1:1-2)
Our ancestors worshiped the gods of nature but not Nature’s God. You might pardon Moses for believing God to be the Burning Bush or the Egyptian host the Pillar of Fire or the Cloud by Night. One must be patient with the pagan who mistakes God for the wonders that God hath wrought, but not modern man and in many cases the Christian Church that crusade for the environment and every species except for the child in the womb. Canadian astrophysicist and science-popularizer Herbert Reeves puts it succinctly Je n'aurai pas le temps. Mémoires:
Man is the most insane species. He worships an invisible God and destroys a visible Nature. Unaware that this Nature he’s destroying is this God he’s worshiping.
This is nothing new. In fact, it is a tired, stale heresy that elitist academicians, theologians and that sophisticated crowd trot out periodically to chastise the church of gullible believers for our superstitions and deceptions. [Its proper name is Panentheism--the belief or doctrine that God is greater than the universe and includes and interpenetrates it.] It is a popular alternative to obeying God Who transcends nature (including human nature) and worshiping animals and things that go bump in the night. The difference today is that we hear this drivel from the hierarchy and from many pulpits preached as if it were gospel and pandered as unassailable truth from the grade school all the way up to academe’s most exalted ivory towers.
Opposite the ancient walls of Jerusalem on Mount Olivet stands a small teardrop shaped chapel named Dominus Flevit. It is revered as the traditional site where Jesus wept over the future destiny of Jerusalem and The Church. He came to His own, and His own received Him not, fulfilling the messianic prophecy of Isaiah:
Who has believed what we have heard? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or comeliness that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. (Isaiah 53:1-3)
Jerusalem did not lend credence to Isaiah’s prophecy because she had made God, the Christ of God and the Kingdom of God in her own image, and not in His! Jerusalem’s Messiah would enter the city riding in a triumphal chariot as Lord of Hosts, the conquering king here to restore the Davidic kingdom in all of its territory and glory. Is it any wonder then that they wanted no part of the Man of Sorrows having nowhere to rest His head, riding on a mule and proclaiming God’s Reign in loving one’s enemies?
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you that kill the prophets, and stone them which are sent unto you, how often would I have gathered your children together, even as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, and you would not! (Matthew 23:37)
Jesus spoke to His own people--the Jewish People, and criticized the religion of the temple in Jerusalem. But His words remain true today and normative for The Catholic Church and all of her many, many offspring--the varieties of Christian communities and congregations. Thus is the nature of inspired Scripture: The Prophet Isaiah prophesied during the 6th Century B.C. (Before Christ) during the time of the Babylonian captivity of Israel, commonly called the Exile. He spoke of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ lamented His people’s rejection and desecrating His House of Prayer with religious commerce. Jesus spoke of us.
When you open your Holy Bible and read the words of the Scripture--Law and the Prophets--and the Tradition--The New Testament--remember, it is a living word, not an echo of the past. It is a prophetic word extending far beyond the context in which it was uttered into the future, unto us and to every generation until Jesus comes again. It is an active word, never passive and subject to the whims of taste and time, but accomplishing its purpose in power:
For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and return not thither but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My Word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and prosper in the thing for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55:10-11)
Of course, there are many words in Sacred Scripture, but only one word, The Word, interprets them all:
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father.
The Word of God, like God Himself and grace and mercy has a proper name and personal existence, JESUS CHRIST. If we are members of His body The Church, then we should reflect His image after which we are made. AMEN.