The Kairos of God in the Last Days
The reunification of Judaism and Catholicism
The following is an address made by Fr. Carlo Colonna, s.j., in a Skype Meeting on 2.29.2012 with the Messianic Jewish Rabbis/Catholic Clergy Relations Boston Committee
My dear Brothers and Sisters in the Lord, it is a great joy for me through the will of God to be able to share with you what the Lord has granted me to understand about His mysterious Plan, precisely as a sign of our times, to bring Judaism and Catholicism to unity, and thus, how important it is to reach this end through the dialogue between Messianic Jews and Catholics, born last year in Boston with my coming. We are a small thing, but a small thing in the hands of God can do great things for His Glory. The most important thing is that we are in His hands and that it would be Him who would use us.
We met last year and I have wonderful memories of each of you and the things we did together. I would like to express my heartfelt thanks for the welcome and love you showed me. I have also seen how you did not give up the seed we sowed together, but rather have shown your commitment to develop it. And so here we are, after a year, with these two Skype meetings, now with me, and in April, with Mark Kinzer, giving a powerful impetus to this Movement for Dialogue and Reconciliation between Messianic Jews and Catholics.
I have no particular academic qualifications. However in recent years, I have received a special call from God to take an interest in Messianic Judaism, and since the first call, I received several new spiritual insights about God’s Plan for the present time. I like to define myself, in spiritual terms, as a man of prayer who seeks union with God and that God visits with visions and prophetic wisdom with increasing strength. On this, I preach and write. And so, I will talk to you as a prophet and a wise man, as I will try to convey to you what the Lord puts in my heart, and you, as prophets with wisdom in the Lord, welcome the will of God, if you recognize this in my words.
I shall begin to deal with my theme which I have called: “THE KAIROS OF GOD IN THE LAST DAYS: The reunification between Judaism and Catholicism”.
A few weeks ago, thinking about what I needed to tell you today, my mind was powerfully attracted to read the text of Ezekiel 37, 15-23, which I am going to read to you as a starting point of what I will say to you.
15 The word of the LORD came to me: 16 "Son of man, take a stick and write on it, 'For Judah, and the people of Israel associated with him'; then take another stick and write on it, 'For Joseph (the stick of Ephraim) and all the house of Israel associated with him.' 17 And join them one to another into one stick, that they may become one in your hand. 18 And when your people say to you, 'Will you not tell us what you mean by these?' 19 say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I am about to take the stick of Joseph (that is in the hand of Ephraim) and the tribes of Israel associated with him. And I will join with it the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, that they may be one in my hand. 20 When the sticks on which you write are in your hand before their eyes, 21 then say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I will take the people of Israel from the nations among which they have gone, and will gather them from all around, and bring them to their own land. 22 And I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. And one king shall be king over them all, and they shall be no longer two nations, and no longer divided into two kingdoms. 23 They shall not defile themselves anymore with their idols and their detestable things, or with any of their transgressions. But I will save them from all the backslidings in which they have sinned, and will cleanse them; and they shall be my people, and I will be their God. (Ezek 37:15-23)
While I was reading, the Lord led me to understand with particular force the interpretation of this prophecy for our days. I saw clearly that the two parts of His people that the God of Israel wants to reunite are, on the one hand, Judaism, on the other, Catholicism. Both are "the chosen people of God", to which the Lord, is now doing something "new" by unifying Judaism and Catholicism, which are in his hands like the two pieces of wood He had in his hands in the Ezekiel’s vision.
It is important to note that the prophet proclaims this as God's will within a broader vision that involves God’s reconstruction of Israel from a general situation of death in which it lies. In the first part of this vision, Ezekiel sees a boundless field of dry bones, representing all of Israel, who no longer live in their own country, but are in captivity and exile. The liberation from this state of slavery and the return of the people of God to their homeland is a true work of "resurrection from the dead”, so strongly represented in Ezekiel’s vision.
This vision is very dear to today’s Jewish world as it was applied to Israel’s return as a "whole" to the land of their forefathers in the twentieth century. The Messianic Jews have also added to this civil and religious reconstruction of the God of Israel who even accomplished a spiritual resurrection in His people, leading a great number of Jews in a short time – something that has never occurred in the past – to adhere with all their heart, all their mind and all their strength to the great Messiah and Lord of Israel, who is our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom every praise and honor be given for His love for us.
But Ezekiel’s vision is broader. The chosen people are also afflicted by another great plague, that is, the division among themselves. From the time of Solomon, Israel lost the unity of the twelve tribes of which it was constituted, and two kingdoms were formed, the kingdom of Judah in the South with two tribes and the kingdom of Israel in the North. All this was due to the sin of Solomon and his descendants; the division was not God’s positive intention with regard to His people. At the root of every division among the people of God there is always human sin, but we know that Our Lord Jesus Christ came to take away the sin that condemns us to division, and to restore the perfect unity of his elected people to make one people of God under one King, the divine Messiah that the Father made as head of His people.
2,600 years have passed since Ezekiel made this restoration prophecy of the unity of God's people, and we shall not read it literally as referring to situations and events of the time of Ezekiel. We live in a time where God is at work among the Nations through Jesus Christ and His Church, where the division among God’s people is not only seen in terms of historical divisions between the tribes of Israel. The division exists, but it is also visible in terms of division between Judaism and Catholicism, where Judaism represents God’s people in Israel, from the origins of Abraham to our days and until the return of Christ, and Catholicism represents God’s people drawn out from the Nations with the preaching of the Gospel.
In addition to this first text, the Lord led me to understand a text from the prophet Haggai, in a new and similar way to the text of Ezekiel. You know well how Haggai the prophet exhorted the exiled Jews from Babylonia to return home and rebuild the ruined temple of God, and not to just worry about the reconstruction of their homes. On this occasion, God makes this promise to the people:
4 Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, declares the LORD. Be strong, O Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land, declares the LORD. Work, for I am with you, declares the LORD of hosts, 5 according to the covenant that I made with you when you came out of Egypt. My Spirit remains in your midst. Fear not. 6 For thus says the LORD of hosts: Yet once more, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land. 7 And I will shake all nations, so that the treasures of all nations shall come in, and I will fill this house with glory, says the LORD of hosts. 8 The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, declares the LORD of hosts. 9 The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former, says the LORD of hosts. And in this place I will give peace, declares the LORD of hosts.'" (Hag 2:4-9)
It seems to me that this prophecy relates to the reconstruction of the Temple of God among the Nations that God wants to accomplish in these days before the return of Christ in glory. It is a Temple where His Glory will shine in greater measure than in the past. What can this New Temple be? The Spirit led me to think that this New Temple will be erected when Judaism and Catholicism will be united to proclaim the only Word of God and the only one Messiah, to sing the only Glory of God that shines in all works performed in both Judaism and Catholicism, in the great works of mercy and in the great works of judgment for the sins of men. So the Nations will know that the true living God is among His people, living in His Temple, which is the Church of Jesus Christ.
To better understand this point, it is important to consider how the Temple where God dwells is His Eternal Wisdom, which Scripture celebrates as the only-begotten Son of God, His eternal Word and Image, through which God has created and renews all created things. Now, beginning with Abraham, the Light of God’s Wisdom began to pour out among humanity surrounded by the darkness of an earthly, sensual and devilish wisdom. In contrast to this earthly wisdom, the Divine Wisdom was revealed through the "Judaism" that was given to the Hebrews, which developed as a religion and wisdom of life based on the Torah, the Prophets and the Sages of Israel.
With the Incarnation of Wisdom in Jesus of Nazareth, the Glory of Israel begins to illuminate the Nations of the earth, becoming the "Light of the Nations". To all nations, Wisdom communicates itself first as "Mystery of Christ," and then as "Catholicism", a term designating all those gifts of the Spirit that come from the Mystery of Christ through the work of the Spirit, keeping people united to Christ and to each other in the one Church. The "Mystery of Christ" is ordinarily called "Christianity", equivalent to what is the "Torah" for the Jews, while the religion and the wisdom of life founded on the acceptance of Christianity is called "Catholicism". Both Judaism and Catholicism are manifestations of the One and Eternal Wisdom of God, communicated to people, and there can be no division or conflict between them. By the Wisdom of Catholicism and Judaism, people enter into communion with the Eternal Wisdom and with God, the Father of all wisdoms, and become "children of God" and brothers and sisters to each other in Wisdom.
With Judaism and Catholicism, the Temple of God which is Wisdom is expanding. To understand this enlargement, we can refer to the two images of a completed building and a human body. A building comprises two elements: the foundation and the building above. The body comprises two elements: the head and the body itself. In relation to Wisdom as Temple of God, Jesus the Messiah represents the Wisdom-Foundation and Head, and Judaism and Catholicism are the Wisdom which is precisely from His Body. The union of the Messiah, Judaism, and Catholicism constitutes the Great Temple of God’s Wisdom among people, to which Wisdom continues to invite people to participate and enjoy its untold riches.
I would like to cite a third biblical text as a reference. Another beautiful image of this agreement between Judaism and Catholicism can be found find in the two Seraphims surrounding the throne of God, according to the vision of the prophet Isaiah. In Revelation, John sees besides YHWH, the Father, on the throne of God, the risen Lamb, the Messiah, Jesus glorified. So the two Seraphims are directed to sing the glory of both God and His Royal Wisdom. The two Seraphims are a symbol of Judaism and Catholicism, which face each other to sing to each other the Holiness of God and proclaim His Word. The holy text says:
They were calling to one another: Holy, holy, holy is YHWH the Lord of Hosts. All the earth is filled with His Glory. (Isa 6:3)
A deeper understanding of what is Catholicism
Now, I would like to convey a deeper understanding of what is the Catholicism that I have cited thus far in my continuous relation with Judaism. What I will say may be useful to both Jews and Catholics.
There are three levels which we can refer to when dealing with the word "Judaism" or the word "Catholic". Let us first consider the word "Judaism". At a first level, it indicates the Judaism born from the Torah of Moses that builds Israel within the covenant with God. It is a pre-Messianic Judaism. At a second level, there is Messianic Judaism, which houses the Messiah as completion, but also overcoming the system of religious life under the Torah through the Spirit. At a third level, there is Messianic Judaism, not alone, but intimately combined with Messianic Catholicism as one unit, according to Ezekiel 37’s prophecy which we have heard.
Similar to these three levels, there are three levels of Catholicism. The first way to understand "Catholicism" is entirely new to you, perhaps even for Catholics who are listening to me. Ordinarily, we give a strictly positive religious meaning to the term "Catholicism" in the same way as we understand "Judaism". But there is a first level of “Catholicism” which does not designate a religion, but the totality of nations of the earth, as these are "one", "one people" in their spiritual condition before God. Therefore, the term "Catholicism" designates "the unity of all Nations" before God. Even though the Nations of the earth are many and diverse , they are religiously in the same common situation before God. The apostle Paul expresses this situation very well when he says, turning to the Gentiles of all nations:
Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called "the uncircumcision" by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands-- 12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. (Eph 2:11-12)
Before the coming of the Messiah, the religious situation of the world before the one true God was as follows: On the one hand, there was the Judaism of Israel with the Torah and their Covenant with God; on the other there was the “Catholicism” of the Nations with their gods, their idolatries and their sins. Scripture says that there was a time when the “Catholicism” of the Nations tried to form a unity of the Nations. It was at Babel. God intervened in order for this not to be realized and since then the Nations on earth have lived out their “Catholicism” fighting one against the other.
It would have to be God Himself, the God of Israel, to manifest Himself to the Nations and give them the opportunity to live out the “Catholicism of Nations” according to God and not according to the flesh. This happened with the preaching of the Gospel to the Nations. With this preaching, the time came not only for individual salvation to be given to the people of all nations, but also for the realization of a work aimed at gathering together all Nations of the earth under God and the Messiah. Under the Messiah, the divine King, the pagan “Catholicism” of the Nations is transformed into Messianic Catholicism, which gathers all Nations of the earth in the unity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The Messianic Catholicism of the Nations becomes one of the characteristics of the Church of Jesus Christ that will be called "Catholic", that is, present in the same way in all Nations without distinction between them. The prophetic event that announced the birth and development of Messianic Catholicism was Pentecost, when the apostles preached the Gospel in the languages of all those who had gathered in Jerusalem on that day. Messianic Catholicism is realized in the Pentecostalism of the Holy Spirit, sent to all the Nations of the earth. The curse of Babel is undone. In Christ and in the Spirit, the Nations may walk united in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, who is the God of Israel, working among the Nations.
While Messianic Catholicism expanded in the Nations, however Judaism remained stuck at the first level of the Torah without passing to the second level; for the most part, it did not become Messianic Judaism. A time of struggle and mutual condemnations erupted between the Judaism of the first level in Israel, subject to the Torah, and the Messianic Catholicism of the Nations. However, I will not add details to this aspect, but I will quickly skip to the present time, in which the kairòs of God aiming to the reunification between Catholicism and Judaism is beginning.
Now, we, Catholics and Jews of the present days are like the survivors of the exile in Babylon at the time of the prophet Haggai. Israel has returned to the land of their fathers, regaining its dignity as a Nation among Nations, and Messianic Catholicism has ceased to despise Israel and Judaism as if they were no longer the people of God.
But God is at work to make new things. He is calling Judaism to become more and more Messianic, especially through the phenomenon of Messianic Jews, their communities and their activities. The Messianic Judaism of our time is at the same level of the Messianic Catholicism of the Nations. According to Paul’s prophecy, we know well that the Messianic Judaism of our time is destined to make Judaism grow until "all" Israel will have accepted their Messiah. Yet there is another work that God wants to accomplish in our days, and this is what I have expressed with the third level of both the Messianic Judaism of Israel and the Messianic Catholicism of the Nations. This work is the union between Messianic Catholicism and Messianic Judaism. It is not sufficient that both Catholicism and Judaism follow the same Messiah, with no explicit relationship of unity between them. This would be against the work of the Messiah who came not only to save and sanctify, but to gather in unity all those who recognize themselves saved and sanctified by the blood of the Messiah and the Spirit of the Living God.
This is the work I came to understand through a better interpretation of Ezekiel’s vision for today's times, a vision where the God of Israel held in His hands two wood sticks, each one in one hand, representing the two sides of His divided people.
I end here, although my speech is not concluded. It is much broader, and if you would like, I will continue it with you in future meetings. This is only the first episode. I would like to close by inviting you to pray to the God of Israel that Ezekiel saw with the two wood sticks in His hands, as symbol of the two parts of His people. Let us pray to Him with all our heart, with the confidence of children and the power of the Holy Spirit, asking that more of the work of unification of His divided people between the Judaism of Israel and the Catholicism of the Nations be done as soon as possible. Let’s pray together, Messianic Jews and Messianic Catholics as a humble representation of Judaism and Catholicism. To this aim, I composed this prayer that I am inviting you to say together:
Father of Jesus, your Son and God of Israel,
God and Lord of the Universe,
You have manifested through the prophet Ezekiel
Your Design to reunify the two divided parts of your chosen people.
These two parts are the Judaism of Israel and the Catholicism of the Nations.
They belong to you, they are in your hands
Like the wood sticks that Ezekiel saw in his vision and that you want to reunite.
We, Jews and Catholics of the Nations gathered here, bow down before You; we adore You and thank You for your Plan of unifying Judaism and Catholicism in the indescribable Wisdom and Love of Jesus, the Messiah, who fills everything and all people with Himself. We pray to You with all our heart: May Your Messiah, Jesus, be all in everyone, and Your Holy Name be glorified by us all and the whole world through Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit working in us the wonders of Your Glory.
May this be the future Temple of Your Glory, which you want to build in these last times of history as we await the return of the Messiah in glory. Be this a larger and more glorious temple than the one You have built so far, because it will be made of the unity, in your Messiah, between Judaism and Catholicism, and of the regained unity of the Nations in the Catholicism of your Church that, since the beginning, at Pentecost in Jerusalem, You manifested as Mother and Teacher of all peoples of the earth. Amen.