Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles

For four thousand years, mankind waited for the most important event in human history.  Their impatience is understandable, because until this great event came to pass, the gates of heaven would continue to be closed in their face.  Their forefather Adam had taken that unfortunate bite of the apple, and the effects of that original sin were then passed down to his descendants to work their destruction.  Banished from the Garden of Eden, banished from the heavenly Paradise also, mankind looked to God’s promise to send a woman to crush the serpent’s head with her heel.  They knew of the promise from their sacred writings, they saw it confirmed again and again through the words of the prophets.  And they waited.

To confirm their expectation of a Messiah to come, God ratified his promise with a solemn covenant with the Patriarch Abraham.  A Saviour would be born of a Virgin in the city of Bethlehem, a Saviour who would visit and redeem his people.  King Herod knew this and trembled.  The Blessed Virgin Mary knew this and rejoiced: “My soul doth magnify the Lord,” she proclaimed, “and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.”  Why did Mary rejoice?  Because God “hath put down the mighty from their seat, and hath exalted the humble and meek.”  And she remembered that covenant between God and man, and knew that she had been chosen to fulfill it: “He remembering his mercy hath holpen his servant Israel.  As he promised to our forefathers, Abraham and his seed for ever.”

The ancient covenant between God and his chosen people, the Jewish people, was fulfilled by the incarnation of the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, God made man.  A new and everlasting covenant was now to be written in the sacred books, the covenant founded upon the Blood of this Saviour, spilled upon the earth he created by the very people he had chosen as his own.  “He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.  He came unto his own, and his own received him not.”  Disregarding the promises made to them by God himself, turning their back on the multitude of prophecies and signs written in the books of the Old Testament, the Jewish people would now reject the fulfillment of these promises.  They had waited for so very long, and yet, now that the great event was upon them and “the blind see, the deaf hear, and the lame walk”, instead of joyfully embracing their salvation, they instead cry out for their Saviour’s crucifixion.  They cry out for his Blood, the Blood of the New and Everlasting Covenant between God and man.  Their bloodthirsty cries ring out to the ages, bringing horrific suffering to their descendants, “His Blood be on us, and on our children.” 

How very sad we should feel that these children of God should curse themselves forever.  How urgently we should feel the need to bring these poor unfortunates to accept the faith of the New Testament.  For our faith is not a new faith.  It is the fulfillment of the ancient faith revealed by God to the Jewish people, truths entrusted to his beloved chosen race.  But alas, his own received him not.

“But as many as received him,” says St. John in the Last Gospel of the Mass, “as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his Name.”  The new covenant brought the Gentiles into the family of God, replacing those chosen people that had rejected him.  These Gentiles received Christ willingly as their Messiah, they embraced the truths he taught, they followed the example of martyrdom he gave, walked the path of charity he commanded.  Before he ascended into heaven, our Lord chose his apostle Peter to be the rock upon which a great new Church would be built, one which was meant to be the holy pasture in which we, his sheep, would be fed with the true faith, valid grace-giving sacraments, and the infallible moral precepts of God himself.  And so, the Gentiles rejoiced.  While the Jews defiantly bemoaned the results of their perfidy, the Gentiles joyfully proclaimed the holy Gospel to the entire world.  Millions converted, countless souls were saved.

During this holy season of Advent, we should experience that same joy.  In spite of the penitential nature of the liturgy, with its purple vestments, its omission of the Gloria at Mass, the lack of floral decorations, and the many fast days on the way, nevertheless we can’t help but remember that it is the beloved Christ Child who is coming, and that, thanks to his merciful forgiveness, it is we Gentiles who will be made glad by his Nativity.  For “there shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles, in him shall the Gentiles trust.”  So then, whatever ills may befall us in this vale of tears, let us remember the words of the ancient Yuletide carol, that “In this world of sin, where meek souls will receive Him still, the dear Christ enters in.”

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