The following appeared in The Hebrew Catholic #64, pp. 19-21. All Rights Reserved.
Foretold both by Jesus himself and St. Paul –
How Long the Great Apostasy?
by Fr. Bernard M. Geiger, OFM Conv.
Not many people are aware of it, but the great Apostasy of the Gentiles foretold both by Jesus and by St. Paul in the New Testament has finally come to pass. The biblical sign of its arrival has attested to this fact continually for the past 23 years. In fact, this great Apostasy has bogged the whole Church down badly. Moreover, the biblical sign of its merciful ending has yet to appear.
Jesus was the first to announce this wholesale apostasy — abandonment of the faith — by future children of Gentiles who had once had it. He alluded to it in the parable of the widow and the unjust judge, with its lesson of how we must persevere in prayer and never lose heart — even when God seems to be rejecting our prayers.
“Listen to the words of the unjust judge, and tell me, will not God give redress to his elect, when they are crying out to him, day and night? … I tell you, he will give them redress with all speed. But ah, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith left on earth?” (Luke 18:7-8, Knox translation)
With these words Jesus is saying that when he comes, few people will believe in God enough to cry out to him day and night.
Jesus was more specific when his apostles asked him when the temple in Jerusalem would be destroyed and the end of the world come. Jesus answered the second question first. The end of the world — as we know it — will come after a period of great turmoil and suffering, he said. These will be caused by wars, plagues, famines and earthquakes, and by almost universal moral corruption.
“Many false prophets will arise, and many will be deceived by them; and the charity of most men will grow cold, as they see wickedness abound everywhere … [Nevertheless,] this gospel must first be preached all over the world, so that all nations may hear the truth; only after that will the end come.” (Matthew 24:11-14)
Here Jesus is saying that although God’s Providence will cause the good news of his Plan and New Covenant with man to be preached all over the earth, few citizens of any nation will believe and accept them. The word ‘nations’ is generally used in the Bible to mean ‘the Gentiles.’ But when mankind as a whole will have heard and understood —and rejected— the Gospel, then the world as we know it will be destroyed — the world, namely, which lies in the power of the evil one (cf. 1 John 5:19; cf. Revelation, chapters 16-20; Matthew, chapter 24; Luke, chapter 21).
St. Paul gives further details. Since the Thessalonians erroneously thought the “end of the [corrupt] world” was going to occur shortly, and since some of them used this as an excuse to quit work and wander around lazily, sponging off their brethren, Paul had to set them straight.
“Do not be terrified out of your senses … by any message or letter purporting to come from us, which suggests that the Day of the Lord is close at hand … The apostasy must come first; the champion of wickedness must appear first, destined to inherit perdition. This is the rebel who is to lift up his head above all that men hold in reverence, till at last he enthrones himself in God’s temple, and proclaims himself as God”
(1 Thessalonians 2:2-4).
The Day of the Lord is that
“day when the Lord Jesus appears from heaven, with angels to proclaim his power; with fire flaming about him, as he pours out vengeance on those who do not acknowledge God, on those who refuse obedience to the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (ibid. 1:7-8; emphasis added)
It is the day all creation is waiting for, the day when the sons and daughters of God will be revealed.
“If creation is full of expectancy, that is because it is waiting for the sons of God to be made known. Created nature has been condemned to frustration; not for some deliberate fault of its own, but for the sake of him who so condemned it, with a hope to look forward to; namely, that nature in its turn will be set free from the tyranny of corruption, to share in the glorious freedom of God’s sons” (Romans 8:19-21).
It is the day foreseen by John in an apocalyptic vision in which Jesus will appear on a “white horse” leading the armies of heaven, which are also seated on “white horses” (cf. Revelation 19:11-16). The “white horse” is probably a symbol for the fact that Jesus will not come in his natural human form, but will manifest his presence in a special way under the appearance of the (white) bread of the Eucharist. That is, the Eucharist will be the vehicle or means by which he will be present and enter into battle. The armies seated on “white horses” would then be all those faithful followers of Jesus who, strengthened by the same Eucharist, will fight the forces of evil alongside Jesus.
“And then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth muster their armies, to join battle with the rider on the white horse and the army which followed him. The beast was made prisoner, and with it the false prophet that did miracles in its presence, deluding all those who bore the beast’s mark and worshipped its image; and both were thrown alive into the fiery lake that burns with brimstone. All the rest were slain by the sword of that horseman, the sword that comes from his mouth…” (ibid. vv. 19-21; also cf. Hebrews 4:12)
On this day Satan himself will be cast out of this created world, for, John says,
“I saw, too, an angel come down from heaven, with the key of the abyss in his hand, and a great chain. He made prisoner of the dragon, serpent of the primal age, and whom we call the devil, or Satan, and put him in bonds for a thousand years, thrusting him down to the abyss and locking him in there, and setting a seal over him. He was not to delude the world any more until the thousand years were over.” (ibid. 20:1-3)
Before this day, however, a great apostasy must take place, as Paul told the Thessalonians. This apostasy will occur among the children of the Gentiles who have come into the Church during the time granted to them for their conversion (cf. Romans 11:11ff.). The sign of this time granted to the Gentiles is the fact that Jerusalem will be controlled by Gentiles until this time is over. Jesus himself tells us this:
“Jerusalem will be trodden under the feet of the Gentiles, until the time granted to the Gentile nations has run out” (Luke 21:24).
Jerusalem was in fact controlled by Gentiles from the fall of Jerusalem to the Romans in the year 67 AD, until the 1967 war between the Israelis and the Arabs, in which the Israelis conquered Palestinian territories including Jerusalem. The fact that Israel now controls the Holy City once again is the biblical sign that the time granted to the Gentiles for their evangelization and acceptance of the New Covenant is over. The great apostasy of the Gentiles, which began during the 18th century with the appearance of Freemasonry in 1717, long before 1967, is probably what brought this time granted to the Gentiles to an end.
In any case the fact that Israel now firmly controls Jerusalem once again is the Biblical sign that this apostasy is now in full swing, and that the Church’s work of evangelizing the Gentiles on any large scale has now more or less come to a halt. We have only to open our eyes to see that, in fact, this is actually what is happening.
We have already noted Jesus’ words that
“many false prophets will arise [in those days], and many will be deceived by them; and the charity of most men will grow cold, as they see wickedness abound everywhere.”
That process is gathering momentum constantly, and is the reason for the modern apparitions of our Lady, whose constant theme has been that “men must stop offending God.”
St. Paul writing to Timothy says,
“We are expressly told by inspiration that, in later days, there will be some who abandon the faith, listening to false inspirations, and doctrines taught by the devils. They will be deceived by the pretensions of impostors, whose conscience is hardened as if by a searing-iron” (1 Timothy 4:1ff).
Writing again to Timothy later he says,
“Be sure of this, that in the world’s last age there are perilous times coming. Men will be in love with self, in love with money, boastful, proud, abusive; without reverence for their parents, without gratitude, without scruple, without love, without peace; slanderers, incontinent, strangers to pity and to kindness; treacherous, reckless, full of vain conceit, thinking rather of their pleasures than of God. They will preserve the outward form of religion, although they have long been strangers to its meaning” (2 Timothy 3:1ff 3: 1ff).
“The time will surely come, when men will grow tired of sound doctrine, always itching to hear something fresh; and so they will provide themselves with a continuous succession of new teachers, as the whim takes them, turning a deaf ear to the truth, bestowing their attention on fables instead.” (ibid. 4:3-4)
Who can deny that this is what we are witnessing on a huge scale right now? Paul warns the Romans,
“The branches [unbelieving Jews] have been thinned out, and thou, a wild olive, hast been grafted in among them; sharest, with them, the root and the richness of the true olive. That is no reason why thou shouldst boast thyself better than [those] branches; remember, in thy mood of boastfulness, that thou owest life to the root, not the root to thee. Branches were cut away, thou wilt tell me, so that I might be grafted in. True enough, but it was for the want of faith that they were cut away, and it is only faith that keeps thee where thou art; thou hast no reason for pride, rather for fear; God was unforgiving with the branches that were native to the tree, what if he should find occasion to be unforgiving with thee too?” (Romans 11:17-21)
So, we are in the midst of the great Apostasy of the Gentiles. How long will it last? Paul indicates it will last until the mass conversion of the Jews who are left — the remnant.
“If the Gentiles have been enriched by their [the unbelieving Jews] default, what must we expect, when it is made good? … If the losing of them has meant a world reconciled to God, what can the winning of them mean, but life risen from the dead? … Blindness has fallen upon a part of Israel, but only until the tale of the Gentile nations is complete; then the whole of Israel will find salvation, as we read in Scripture.” (Romans 11:12, 25-26)