April 13 - Covenants Fulfilled
Apr 13, 2019
Scriptures: The prophet Ezekiel is writing at the time of the Babylonian Exile. He is writing about the end of that exile and how the Lord plans to give them a Messiah. The prophets were clear that God was sending them back to the promised land to be a holy kingdom, free from sin, and devoted to God. It is the fulfillment of the covenant of Moses that should the Jews follow the law, God would dwell among them. Ezekiel promises that the King will be restored and the once divided Jewish nation would be united under one ruler. God promises to place his "Sanctuary" among them which many interpreted to mean the restoration of the temple. All that the prophet wrote was written to prepare them for Jesus Christ. However, the people would return before Jesus came. The royal line would be restored before Jesus came, peace in Israel would be found, Strict adherence to the law would become the norm (Pharisees). To the Jewish people returning from exile, it would appear that all of these prophecies had already been fulfilled; everything but that new covenant. They did not know the future, they did not know that all those things they considered fulfilled would pass away and that God's true fulfillment would be greater. God would send his own Son, Jesus Christ, to rule for all eternity as the king of the Jews with a crown of thorns on his head; he is the Good Shepherd. Upon Jesus' death the veil in the "Sanctuary" was torn, for the true sanctuary of the human heart was established in the new covenant. The Holy Spirit could now dwell in us and we have become tabernacles. Idols died with Jesus and all the old Gods seemed to pass away. Many Jews missed the true fulfillment in front of them "He is performing many signs," because they seemed to have all that God promised in Ezekiel already (except that Rome left them with a "puppet" king in Herod).
Core Principle of Faith: One of the most convincing signs that Jesus Christ is Truly the Son of God is that he Fulfills all the promises that God has made to us. Not only is the fulfillment astronomically unlikely based on the number of promises kept and the fact they had to be completed in one lifetime, they were fulfilled in ways that still amaze us today. God promised a King, a Messiah (anointed one), to establish an everlasting kingdom. We know that kingdoms rise and fall and kings and lines of kings can perish as easily as they start. God fulfills this promise in King that would be recognize openly as king only when being put to death. He would wear the scarlet robe of a king only to be mocked. But what did he say to Pilate, "My kingdom is not of this world." It touches this world and will eventually overtake this world, it was already here with Jesus, but not yet fully here. This is why we say, "Thy kingdom come." Jesus' resurrection as King of the Jews in the line of David, his ascension into heaven to rule the Kingdom of God, means that the eternal kingdom is indeed established and Jesus is "no more to die," and so the throne is eternal in the Messiah, the "Son of David." What is even more amazing, to me, is that this surprise fulfillment also fulfills the Mosaic Covenant. When the Jews were given the commandments they had no King but God the Father to lead them. Each person had full rights under the law, but was subject to no one but the Lord in heaven. This started the time of the Judges in Israel where the only government was a judicial branch, as God was the executive and legislative. The people envied other nations with human kings and demanded of God a King. God rebuked them for asking for an earthly King when the Lord himself was to lead them. God foretold the oppression that would fall upon the land under human kings, just like other nations. The Lord in humility gave them their wish. When those kings and the line of David was smashed by enemies, mistreated the people, and eventually was left without an earthly throne, God sent his only Son to become fully Human. Jesus Christ, God, not only was an "earthly king" he also restored God Himself to that throne. During the time of the Judges every man lived free under the law, with God as King. When Christ established the Kingdom of God on earth and sent the Holy Spirit to the people, they have a freedom greater than that held by the Jews in the time of the judges.
Living this at Home: Make a habit of study. God gave you every good thing you have including your family. The least we could do is to invest in the divine relationship between ourselves and God. We read the Bible and say, "Wouldn't it be cool to be Moses, to talk to God directly?" or "Wouldn't it be great to be a prophet, to be able to know the will of God." We look at the extra-ordinary stories and are amazed. However, we easily deny the New Covenant that Christ established in our hearts. We do not need to worship him on the mountaintops or in the Temples, God is with us. Our interaction with God is as simple as an open hearted prayer. Through the study of good Catholic books and scriptures we open that door wider to God. Through prayer and silence, we open that door further still. Set aside time to attend the King, and the Good Shepherd will lead you to life everlasting.
Holy Week: Holy week begins tomorrow on Palm Sunday. The scripture reflections will end on Wednesday. I will post a description of each night of the Triduum for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. I highly encourage you to attend those beautiful liturgies.