Summary: Jesus lived and died to create the true Israel of God.
Tuesday of Holy Week
7 April 2009
Israel was not made a holy nation by God for its own benefit. From the beginning, this nomadic tribe was to be a place of true worship of the one God. This people was called to be a light to the nations, so that all would be attracted to right worship, and so that the whole world would be made just and holy. But Israel spent its time and resources chasing after wind, worshiping the gods of the land, giving up its sons and daughters to Melch in human sacrifice, and profaning their souls and bodies with horrible rites of death. So they were swept away to all the nations. Even when they returned from Babylon, they refused their calling, becoming insular and isolated and resuming their practices of injustice. They looked for a Messiah who would destroy the Romans and make their pathetic kingdom the center of the political world, not for the justification of all men, but for mere worldly power.
Jesus, the real Messiah, and His Mother–in fact the whole Holy Family–formed a kind of new shoot from which a truly obedient and right-worshiping nation might be formed. He summoned hundreds of disciples and chose twelve on whom he would build a new Israel. But human nature had not changed. Look, right up to the last moment of that last Passover you have Judas plotting for money to push Jesus up to the edge, and you have Peter brandishing his sword and promising to smite the evildoer and die for Jesus. Perhaps it was the alcohol of the feast talking, but four hours later he was cringing in fear at the feet of a teenage serving girl whose terrifying challenge was “don’t you have a Galilean accent?”
Jesus had to change human nature in order to make us as individuals and as a community into the true Israel of God, a people who would carry His message, celebrate right worship, and do His will, living justly and at peace and witnessing to a needful world. And so he did, by his passion, death and resurrection, become the New Man that we all are destined to be like. And he gave us this sacrament of Eucharist to make us, day by day, into that New Man, and draw us together in right worship, so we will be powerful to witness the love of God to a world that hungers for justice, peace, and servant-love.