I was sent to the the lost sheep of the house of Israel. (Matthew 15:24)
Who does Christ love? Does He love the Israelites only? Or everyone?
Christ came as an Israelite, lived among the Israelites, spoke the language of the Israelites, had Israelite friends and associates and generally followed Israelite customs, including the religious customs. The Israelites claimed to have a unique relationship with God, claimed to have been singled-out for special divine favor and closeness. The Lord Jesus never contradicted this idea. To the contrary, He evidently accepted that idea altogether.
Nonetheless, the incarnate Son of God exposed the limits of Israel’s ‘special’ relationship.
The Chosen People did not recognize their own God. Their human king tried to have their divine King killed as a newborn. The Pharisees, supposedly so close to God, obtusely rejected God incarnate. The Jerusalem authorities condemned to death the divine founder of Jerusalem.
Christ shed His blood not just for Israelites, but for all the baptized. He instructed His Apostles to baptize all nations.
We read how, centuries before all this, God grew angry with the Israelites. They doubted His Providence in clearing their enemies out of the Promised Land. “We look like grasshoppers compared to these people. We could never conquer this land.”
We read that the people “spread discouraging reports.” The murmurazio mewled and fussed about how terrible the situation was. God help anyone who spreads discouraging reports about the prospects of the Chosen People! The People of God, united under their legitimate shepherds; the People of God, acting together as a family: that’s an unstoppable force, because the favor of God rests upon us. No enemies can stop the people of God, marching into the future under the loving care of the divinely-instituted hierarchial leadership! Suffering and contradiction will come our way, but that is precisely how we advance the cause of the Crucified.
I think we could say that God grew angry with the murmuring Israelites because the people underestimated His power. God knew perfectly well that the Hittites, Jebusites, Amorites, and Canaanites dwarfed the Israelites. The Hittites, Jebusites, Amorites, and Canaanites had much more money than the Israelites. But that doesn’t matter. The point is that God dwarfs everybody.
So, back to the original question: Jesus loves the Israelites. Nothing Christ ever did or said contradicts the idea that He loves His own people. He loves the “home team,” so to speak–the people who built the walls of the Temple and handed down the sacred tradition.
But God help us if we underestimate the power of Christ’s love. God help us if we do anything to discourage the faith. God help us if we spend so much time fighting among ourselves that we forget to look outside and see the souls that need Christ. Christ’s love has infinite power. Christ’s love has the power to unite the home team and the visiting team into one winning team.
[Special Message for my Rocky-Mount, Va., peeps:]
In my humble opinion, unworthy man that I am–in my humble opinion: This summer we missed an opportunity. The Lord opened a door to our future together in this town, and we did not go through it. I blame myself, because I communicate so inadequately. There’s plenty of blame to go around, but no sense dwelling on what’s done. Time moves on.
God never gives up on His Chosen Ones. Let us not doubt that He will open another door for us–sooner rather than later. And there will be one way through it, the same way that always leads to the good future: Jesus Christ.
One of the many things I have learned over the course of the past six weeks is this: In early June, I vaguely thought that moving the tabernacle into the sanctuary would improve our lives by making the celebration of Mass smoother. I thought it would be a practical improvement. Now I see that this is not simply a practical matter. Moving the tabernacle into the sanctuary has to be our #1 spiritual priority. The Real Presence of Christ in the tabernacle, and how desperately we need His Presence, and how desperately our neighbors need to find Him here–this will have to be the focus of our efforts for the forseeable future.
Back to our question for today: Does Jesus Christ, present in the Blessed Sacrament–does He love Jew or Gentile? Yes. Does Christ love us, or does he love the people outside the Church? Yes. Does Christ will us to march forward together and evangelize the world with patient love?