For through his Paschal Mystery, he accomplished the marvelous deed, by which he has freed us from the yoke of sin and death, summoning us to the glory of being now called a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for your own possession, to proclaim everywhere your mighty works, for you have called us out of darkness into your own wonderful light.
In the international furore over the Israel/Gaza conflict, with civilian deaths piling up every day, whether by Israeli excessive force, or through the use of civilians as 'human shields' by Hamas, it is easy for us to forget that the Jews, too, are called into a loving relationship with Christ our Lord. As Catholics we know that we can be members of a 'chosen people' through Baptism, but that we can reject the One Who chose us 'before the foundation of the World'. The whole concept of 'chosen people' runs throughout Scripture. In the Old Testament, God chooses the Jewish people to be His people, set apart, to worship Him as the One God.
The Jewish people are the chosen race, but like the new race, chosen - the Baptised - the Jewish people, too, can reject the One Who chose them. We see this horrific reality in the rejection and Crucifixion of Jesus Christ, a death that results not just from the hard-heartedness and sinfulness of the People of the time and place to whom He came, but from our own sinfulness. We see in Jesus, bloodied, scourged, derided and held in contempt, not just the punishment that fell upon Him from the rejection of those individuals at that moment in history, but the punishment that fell upon Him because of our weakness, sinfulness and our own malice caused by our sins.
Listening to the Canon of the Mass on Sunday, I was struck by the words, 'a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for your own possession'. These are all things believed, I think, by the Jewish people who still regard themselves, rightly, as a 'chosen race'. The State of Israel, if we believe what we are told, does regard itself, too, as a 'holy nation'. Many Christians believe that the State of Israel finds its inherent 'right to exist' from the words of the Old Testament. The land of Israel is, in these terms, seen as the inheritance and birthright of every Jew, set apart by God, among his brethren, to be God's chosen people, his holy nation, people for God's own possession in God's holy land. How many of the Israelis still believe this, I have no idea.
Insanity of war
I shudder to think what the future holds for both the Palestinians and the Israelis. We are living in an era in which any kind of insanity could be considered by both sides of the conflict - and already is and of course this is a conflict that threatens not merely that part of the World internally, but externally, due to the increase in Islamic militancy in so many countries, even in the West itself. An international backlash - and collusion with Islamic militants - against Israel could spell doom for the Israelis who at this time, are the ones with the firepower and the army equipped to unleash Hell. An increase in Israeli aggression could wipe out the population of Gaza. I am deeply aware of the disproportionate force meted out by the Israeli army against the Gaza population, but am also aware of the charter of Hamas which calls for the total destruction of Israel - a view held by many, not all who are Muslim, around the World.
In all of this bloody insanity, this horrendous conflict, I cannot shake this painful feeling that whoever wins this conflict is losing sight of the true inheritance in store for Jews, but also for pagans, among whom we can perhaps place the Muslims. We see this even in the Church. As Catholics it is so easy for us to lose sight of what God has done for us in leading us to the 'land of milk and honey', the Promised Land that is the Catholic Church. What God gave to the Jews in terms of land is given to Jews and Gentiles in the Church. We know this since from Her very beginning, Jews have joined the One True Church, numbered among the Apostles, as well as Our Blessed Lady, the Ark of the New Covenant.
We can all lose sight of our true homeland
The Jews were fed manna from Heaven in the desert, but we are fed on the Bread of Angels, the Body and Blood of Christ. We are called into this wonderous light, this beautiful relationship with Christ, yet spend so much of our time flirting with passing pleasures and our material possessions, forgetting our inheritance. We are unsatisfied, yet often self-satisfied. We are often full, yet we are empty. We set our hearts on the things of earth, rather than on the things of Heaven. We treasure our life, yet we do not want to lose it and die to ourselves that we may life for Jesus Christ. We avoid suffering, we run away from doing penance, we want comfort, even serious sin, personal amusement, rather than the Cross. We are homeless, yet we want homes that will not satisfy us because we have no abiding city until we come to the Kingdom of Heaven of which we are called to be citizens by virtue of our Baptism.
Like all men we will die and we will die, like all men, with only the promises of God to give us comfort and hope that we shall be able to behold His Face in Heaven, eventually, should we obtain mercy from our God and King, and escape the eternal fires of Hell. These fires are reserved for all who reject Jesus Christ and His Gospel and die His enemies. That is what He told us. We have not made it up. We know that we could have everything in the whole world but if we do not have Jesus Christ, we really have nothing at all, yet so many do not even have the thoughts of the Passion and Death and Resurrection of Our Lord from which to draw comfort as night closes upon the end of our days.
The State of Israel was born, according to the image above, in 1948, and soon all the Jews were invited to live there, in the land promised to them long ago. Yet the New Israel, the true Israel, the Church, was instituted when water and blood gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus on the Cross and born truly at Pentecost, when the Apostles gathered together in the Upper Room, where they had gone to hide, 'for fear of the Jews'. Those Apostles, the Jewish Christians, the first Christians, had no possessions, sought nothing but Christ and the holy will of God. They knew they had no abiding city here, that their homeland was Heaven, preached of it, encouraged all their hearers to embrace the Eternal place created for us in which the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost are adored outside of time and space, the place where they now are, interceding for the Church and the World.
We do not, at this time, know the earthly fate of the Jewish people, nor of the Palestinian population, though at the time, things look bleak for them, but we do know what God desires for all of His children - for Palestinians and for Israelis. For them, as for us, God wants to give Eternal Life. That is His gift. He has promised us nothing else. What is land in comparison to that!? That might not be a solution to the middle east crisis, but it is the only solution that God desires for us all. The problem is, like any peace plan, we can, tragically, reject it.
|If only the 'right to exist' was extended to all...|
Pray for the conversion of the Jews and the conversion of the Infidels...
Not in order to insult their respective religions, but because God has invited all to the Heavenly Jerusalem that comes down, adorned as a Bride for her Husband, for whoever emerges triumphant from the bloody scenes of the Holy Land, we are all losers, if we fail to take up residence in the City of God.
Let us live as citizens of that land and let us all speak of it, lest any man think that this life and this earth is all there is that exists for us, for if that were true, that would be a life not worth living. Jesus came to give us life, in all its fullness. Let us embrace Him today, for He is our Life.
Without Him, we Catholics, as well as Jews and Muslims who continue to reject Him, may obtain everything we seek in this life and yet end up with nothing at all, for how we die fixes our State for all Eternity. If that State is not the New Israel, then it is no Israel at all.
The 'Right to Exist'
All nations, surely, have a 'right to exist', because all nations contain people who have an inalienable 'right to exist'. I do not doubt that the enemies of Israel do not believe in Israel's right to exist, but with that said, I am not wholly convinced that Israel believes in the 'right to exist' of the Palestinians. The 'right to exist' is, I believe, a right denied to so many in so many countries, among which is Israel. The unborn, too, are citizens of every nation under the sun, including Israel. The 'right to exist' sounds like a potential source of peace everywhere, for all people. Let us pray that all people respect it, always, and everywhere. To deny the unborn, the elderly, the poor, the sick, the terminally ill, the Jew, the Christian, the Palestinian, the Muslim, or anyone else their 'right to exist' is the suicide of any nation and the collapse of all nations who deny it. If only all Governments believed in it!