Ed. This talk was given at the first historic Hebrew Catholic conference, Jews in the Church, on December 11, 2004. It was included in The Hebrew Catholic #81. All rights reserved.
Israel’s True Identity and Vocation
General Introduction to Conference
Holy Spirit, Be on my lips and in my heart
that I may worthily proclaim your Word.
All of our Guardian Angels, Pray for us.
Thank you. It is a great joy to be here with all of you. Thank you for coming.
Remnant of Israel is a non-profit corporation established in 1976 to continue the work of Father Arthur Klyber. Father Klyber was born of orthodox Jewish parents and baptized at the age of 20. He was called to the priesthood and ordained in 1932. Father Klyber never lost his Jewish identity. He was proud to be known as a Jewish priest.
He was a preacher. He loved to preach about Judaism. One of his favorite themes was this: When a Jew finds the Messiah, he remains Jewish.
And this is the basis of this conference today: When a Jew finds the Messiah, he or she remains Jewish. There are four of us speaking here today. We believe Jesus is the Jewish Messiah. We find the fullness of Judaism in the Catholic Church. We are proud to profess the Catholic Faith. We are proud to profess our fidelity to the Magisterium. And we are proud to proclaim that we are even more Jewish now than we were before we were Catholics.
Many of us are active in apostolic work for the Church. One of the goals of this meeting here is to promote better communication and more cooperation among Jewish Catholics in proclaiming this message about the Jewish Messiah. We want to serve the Good Shepherd as He gathers the lost sheep of the House of Israel. We will keep you informed as this develops.
My Spiritual Journey
The four of us decided that we would each describe briefly our conversion to the Catholic Faith. Much controversy arises when Jews and Catholics talk about “conversion.” The four of us speaking here today are frequently called “converts.” The words, “convert” and “conversion,” are commonly understood to refer to changing one’s religion. The four of us here profess that we have not actually changed religion but we have found the fullness of Judaism and we remain Jewish.
The Holy Father’s theme for the Great Jubilee was conversion. He called all people to convert back to God. Moses and the Hebrew Prophets repeatedly exhorted the People of God to convert. “Convert” simply means to turn back. We are all in the process of conversion.
Our Faith in Jesus demands that we proclaim that He is the Jewish Messiah and He has come to offer Salvation to everyone. Our job is to proclaim this Good News. God’s job is to convert people.
My conversion does not end with baptism. Rather, my conversion is a continuing daily struggle. With this in mind, I have one anecdote from my personal spiritual journey.
As for anyone, becoming Catholic is an awesome outpouring of grace – gratuitous and wholly unmerited on our parts. More than anything else, I want to express thanksgiving for our Lord’s Boundless Mercy.
I was introduced to Our Mother of Perpetual Help before I was baptized. Let me tell you how it happened. I had hit bottom, I had despaired of any reason to live. I was an agnostic – I thought there was a God, but wasn’t sure. The obstacle was that I didn’t see any way that I could be forgiven and reconciled with this Almighty God, not because my sins were unforgivable, but because I doubted my own contrition and purpose of amendment. I thought I would hopelessly fall back into sin over and over again no matter how many times I was forgiven.
For weeks I was looking for any source of hope; I was desperate. I went into a church and was attracted to a statue with a typed prayer at the base, which included this sentence: “O Mother of Perpetual Help, into your hands do I place my eternal salvation, to you do I entrust my soul.” I was mysteriously drawn to the prayer: I memorized it and said it every day. I entrusted my soul and my eternal salvation in the hands of this Lady, even though I didn’t know who she was, and I was not yet baptized.
Only God knows what was going on in the depths of my soul, but I do know that a great change came into my life: I wanted to pray to Our Mother of Perpetual Help and to learn more about her. What a grace!
What wonderful Hope! Three months later, I was baptized.
Recently, I learned that the prayer I memorized was written by St. Alphonsus Liguouri, founder of the Redemptorists and a Doctor of the Church. The founder of the Remnant of Israel, our beloved Father Arthur Klyber, is a Redemptorist and a true son of St. Alphonsus. What an amazing “coincidence”!
Also, I have come to trust in Divine Mercy. I believe that my sins are truly forgiven. I am still a sinner, and continue to need frequent confession. I continue to pray for my own daily conversion. But I understand that God reads our hearts and if we are sorry for our sins and want to change, the Lord will meet us and help us. My life has truly changed, and I have changed, in the decades since I started praying to Our Mother of Perpetual Help. God truly answers prayer. And He truly hears the prayers of Israel and keeps His Promises to His People.
Israel’s True Identity and Vocation
The title for this talk, Israel’s True Identity and Vocation, comes from an article by Dr. Gregory Vall published in The Thomist, April 2002. I thank Dr. Vall for his important article on the identity of Israel, which I strongly recommend for further study. I am indebted to Dr. Vall, although I will take a slightly different approach than his article.
What is Israel’s true identity and vocation? What is Israel’s unique role in salvation? There are many valid and meaningful answers to these questions – and, of course, if you ask four Jews you will get at least five different answers.
I propose that the calling of Israel is this: the Lord chose Israel to be the first among all nations, and to lead all nations to Him. Israel leads all nations by turning back to God; Israel is called to be the first to turn back to God. When Israel repents and returns to the Lord, she becomes a light to the nations by manifesting the Lord’s mercy and witnessing to His forgiveness of sins.
I will focus on three aspects of Israel’s calling: repentance, the forgiveness of sins, and the restoration of God’s Covenant Family. From Israel’s history I will present some archetypes of repentance and forgiveness of sin. This will help us see how the Gospel calls each one of us to be a child of Abraham, to be restored to full membership in God’s Covenant Family, the Family of Israel.
The goal for each of us is to get to heaven. We should direct everything to that end. The obstacle, making it difficult for most of us to get to heaven, is sin.
My first point is the centrality of repentance to the vocation of Israel.
We are familiar with the centrality of repentance in the Gospel. In the first Gospel, the first word spoken by both John the Baptist and Jesus was: “Repent.” On Pentecost, nearly 2000 years ago, “Peter, standing up with the Eleven, lifted up his voice and spoke out to” the “devout Jews from every nation under heaven.” The devout Jews “were pierced to the heart and said, ‘Brethren, what shall we do?’” Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you… for the forgiveness of your sins.” (Acts 2:5-38) Peter’s first word was: “Repent.”
We must recognize the need for repentance among Jews as well as Gentiles. Paul carefully explains in Romans that “all have sinned,” both Gentiles and Jews, and all are in need of redemption through the Blood of Jesus. (Rom 3:23-25) All, without exception, must repent.
Paul uses the story of the Fall in Genesis 3 to show that “all have sinned.” (cf. Rom 5:12-19) To emphasize that this is the accepted Jewish understanding of man’s sinfulness, Paul cites Psalm 14: “There is no just man, not even one.” (Rom 3:10-12)
The Dogma of the Immaculate Conception confirms that all have sinned and are in need of redemption through Christ’s Blood shed on Calvary. Except for her divine Son, the Blessed Virgin Mary was the most perfect Jew who ever lived. She followed the Law of Moses and never committed a sin; yet she was saved only through the Blood of Jesus. If the Immaculate Virgin was saved by Christ’s Sacrifice, certainly no Jew – no matter how perfectly he or she keeps the Law, no matter how holy he or she may be – will be saved without Christ.
We now turn to my second point: the centrality of the forgiveness of sins. Cleansing from sin is a central theme in Judaism. Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is rightly considered one of the most important days of the year for Jews. The Gospel of John focused our attention on the “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” St. Paul emphasized the universality and horror of sin.
Judaism understands that we are all sinners and only God can remove our sins. Today, we join other Jews who proudly profess – with Peter and the first Jewish disciples – our belief that Jesus of Nazareth has truly offered the acceptable Sacrifice for our sins. Our belief in Jesus affirms our Jewish understanding that only God can remove our sins.
We have a Great Commission from Jesus Himself to proclaim this Good News to everyone, beginning with the Jewish people. (cf. Matt 28:18-20 and Luke 24:46-48) The greatest and most tragic form of discrimination against Jews is to withhold this Good News from them.
My third point is Israel’s vocation in the restoration of God’s Covenant Family.
Consider the importance of marriage and family. Jesus emphasizes the family covenant bond when he cites the Jewish text on the indissolubility of marriage. He quotes Genesis: “The two shall become one flesh.” (in Matt 19:5 citing Gen 2:24) Then He added His own forceful emphasis saying: “They are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder.” (Matt 19:6) This is the Jewish understanding of the Sacred Matrimonial Covenant union.
I propose that our spiritual adoption into Jesus’ family through the Sacraments is adoption into the Holy Family of Nazareth. We become adopted brothers and sisters of Jesus; Mary is our Mother; and Joseph is our adopted human father.
When they found Jesus in the Temple, Mary herself – referring to Joseph – said, “Son, your father and I have been looking for you.” (Luke 2:48) The Holy Family never was a single-parent family. Joseph is truly Jesus’ human father in every way except biologically. The Church teaches that Joseph and Mary were joined in Sacred Matrimonial Covenant union before the Incarnation. [Note: Pope John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation: Redemptoris Custos, August 15, 1989]
It is unthinkable that Jesus meant to exclude His own mother from Sacred Matrimonial Covenant union with Joseph. We need Joseph! Joseph remains the Head of the Holy Family today, the Custodian of the Universal Church. “What God has joined together, let no man put asunder.”
Why is this important to us here today? It is important to us because Joseph and Mary are Jewish. The Holy Family of Nazareth is a Jewish Family – the most perfect Jewish family. The history of Judaism is the family history of Israel. God chose to redeem us through the family. Judaism keeps the memory of our family alive and present.
The Incarnation reveals the fullness of human life, and the Incarnation is in a Jewish family. I think we can say that for every person the fullness of human life is found in a Jewish Family. In Baptism we become members of the Jewish Family of Nazareth.
Part One: Familial Recollections of Ephraim
Let us examine one aspect of the Catholic Church’s Jewish family history. Today “Jew” and “Israel” are used equivalently. Modern use of terms is often completely isolated from ancient historical realities. If we want to see what Our Lord meant when He used these terms, it is important for us to understand the scriptural distinctions as they are used in salvation history. The task is formidable because the history is quite complex and the use of these terms changes significantly over the centuries, but I think you will appreciate the results of the effort.
Our Lord’s story of the Prodigal Son begins: “a man had two sons.” (Luke 15:11-32) The father is usually understood to represent God.
There are different views of the two sons. One way of looking at the passage sees the sons as representing the northern and southern kingdoms into which David’s kingdom divided after Solomon’s death.
The older brother – who stayed in his father’s house – represents the southern kingdom of Judah led by members of the Tribe of Judah. The inhabitants of this southern kingdom came to be known as “Jews.” The “Jews” continued to worship in Jerusalem.
The younger brother – according to this view – would represent the rebel northern kingdom led by the Tribe of Ephraim. The entire northern kingdom came to be known as Ephraim. They refused to worship in Jerusalem and quickly began worshipping idols. Scripture refers to this civil war among the Tribes of Israel as the rivalry between Ephraim and Judah. (Isa 11:13 and cf. Isa 7:17)
Now many people ask: Who is Ephraim? Why talk about Ephraim? Lest we lose sight of our family history, we should be familiar with Ephraim. We need to know that the Hebrew Prophets often used Ephraim in place of Israel. This will shed light on the true identity and vocation of Israel.
I will explain how this came about.
Israel’s civil war began hundreds of years earlier in the rivalry of Jacob’s sons. Jacob / Israel is Abraham’s grandson. After wrestling with Jacob, God changed Jacob’s name to Israel (Gen 32:22-33). The word, “Jew” or “Jews,” is derived from “Judah,” the fourth son of Jacob. The family history of the Jews is our family history. It is the family history of Israel.
In the Book of Genesis, Jacob / Israel’s first wife, Leah, bore Jacob’s first four sons: Judah is the fourth son. Many years later, Rachel – the wife that Israel loved – bore him two sons: Joseph and Benjamin. And “Israel loved Joseph best of all his sons.” (Gen 37:3) Joseph was sold as a slave, taken down into Egypt, and became second in command to Pharaoh. Joseph married Asenath, the daughter of Pharaoh’s High Priest. (Gen 41:45) She bore Joseph two sons; the younger son is Ephraim. (Gen 48:1)
This is our Jewish family history. Ephraim will become very prominent in the history of Israel. It is important to be aware that Ephraim is the younger son of Joseph; and Joseph is the younger brother of Judah.
In the conclusion of Genesis, Israel handed down the blessing he received from God Almighty to Ephraim ! ! ! (Gen 48:3-5) Ephraim’s mother was a pagan. When Israel gave this blessing to Ephraim, I think it may be seen as a foreshadowing of the Gentiles being brought into the Covenant Family of Israel.
After Solomon’s Kingdom was split in two, the southern kingdom was called Judah or Judea; those remaining in Judea were known as “Jews.” The northern kingdom was called “Israel” or “Ephraim” interchangeably. When the northern kingdom was taken into captivity and lost among the nations, the name, Ephraim, referred to the Lost Tribes of Israel.
Returning to the Parable of the Prodigal Son, we see how the Temple in Jerusalem – in the kingdom of Judea – may be understood as the “Father’s House.” The “Jews” may be seen as the older brother. The rebel Ephraimites – who went away and refused to worship in Jerusalem – are seen as the younger brother.
God waits patiently for Ephraim, His prodigal son, to return home. In light of Israel’s history – which is our own family history – we can see the Parable of the Prodigal Son as a story about the restoration of the Lost Sheep of the House of Israel. We can see it as a parable about Ephraim repenting and returning to his Father’s House.
Part Two: Ephraim in the Gospel of Matthew
With this background in mind, let’s turn to an illustration of the repentance, forgiveness of sins, and restoration of Israel into God’s Covenant Family that is critical to a deeper understanding of the Gospel.
The first two chapters of the Gospel of Matthew are often seen as a very brief summary of Israel’s history. The Evangelist marks the infancy narrative with carefully chosen citations from the Hebrew Prophets to show how key events in Israel’s history are recapitulated in the Incarnation.
In his description of the Holy Family’s “flight into Egypt,” Matthew cites Hosea, “Out of Egypt I called my son.” (Matt 2:15 citing Hosea 11:1) In Hosea, God calls Israel His Son. But Hosea often uses Ephraim and Israel interchangeably. Hosea describes God pleading with Ephraim / Israel to repent and return to Him. Hosea ends with God’s hopeful Promise: “Ephraim! What more has he to do with idols? I have humbled him, but I will prosper him.” (Hosea 14:9) Hosea prophecies that Ephraim / Israel will be humbled, repent and return to His Father’s House – exactly as the parable in Luke describes the Prodigal Son.
In Matthew’s infancy narrative, following the Hosea citation, Matthew cites Jeremiah: “A voice was heard in Rama, weeping and loud lamentation; Rachel weeping for her children, and she would not be consoled, because they were no more.” (Matt 2:18 citing Jer 31:15) This text in Jeremiah 31, as in Hosea, is a description of Ephraim returning to the Lord.
Jeremiah records the Lord’s words explicitly: “I am a father to Israel, Ephraim is my first-born.” (Jer 31:9) And again God proclaims: “Is Ephraim not my favored son, the child in whom I delight?” (Jer 31:20) Compare these statements with the essential relation of God to Israel stated in the Book of Exodus: “Thus says the Lord: ‘Israel is my son, my first-born.’” (Ex 4:22) From Jacob’s blessing of Ephraim, and from the Civil War among the Tribes, we see how Ephraim has taken the place of Israel as the Lord’s favored son.
Stay with me as I continue to unpack this theme hidden in the Hebrew Scriptures.
Returning to the infancy narrative in Matthew’s Gospel, we now see that by citing Hosea and Jeremiah together, Matthew is clearly suggesting a fulfillment of prophecy concerning Ephraim. Remember, Matthew’s infancy narrative centers around Joseph of Nazareth. Matthew is well aware that Ephraim is the son of Joseph. The title, “son of Joseph,” takes a much broader meaning in this context. In John’s Gospel also, the Messiah is identified as “son of Joseph of Nazareth.”
In Baptism, you and I become adopted brothers and sisters of Jesus and sons and daughters of Joseph. The essence of our Baptismal Vows can be seen in Ephraim’s – and the Prodigal Son’s – repentance and return to our Father’s House where we are welcomed and restored to full membership in the Lord’s Covenant Family. And it is unmistakably a Jewish family.
Again, in Matthew’s abbreviated history of Israel, we read: “Rachel weeping for her children and she refused to be consoled.” (Mt 2:18 quoting Jer 31:15) We see it as a sad text, an expression of despair. But Matthew sees it as a proclamation of the Good News. This passage in Jeremiah is one of the most hopeful Promises in all the Hebrew Scriptures! In response to Rachel’s weeping, the Lord tells her to stop crying and “wipe the tears from your eyes. The sorrow you have shown shall have its reward, they shall return. There is hope for your future, your sons shall return. I hear, I hear Ephraim pleading…” (Jer 31:16-18) Then we read Ephraim’s Act of Contrition. It foreshadows the repentance and return of all Israel.
Jews are people of Hope; and this passage is at the very heart of our Jewish Hope. “I will turn their mourning into joy; I will console and gladden them after their sorrows.” (Jer 31:13)
Chapter 31 of Jeremiah describes God’s boundless mercy. “The Father’s Boundless Mercy” is a title often used for the Parable of the Prodigal Son, a parable with striking similarities to the story of Ephraim’s repentance and return.
What does this mean to you and me today?
How do we recognize and receive God’s boundless mercy? It is quite explicit in the story of the Prodigal Son: the sinner must repent and return to his Father. The Prodigal Son does not even reach his father’s house. He intends to… but the Father, in his boundless mercy, rushes out to meet him before he reaches the house. If we only repent and turn to God with contrition for our sins and a firm purpose of amendment, He will meet us along the way and bring us Home.
Part Three: The Remnant of Israel
Now look at the Remnant of Israel in Jeremiah 31. The Remnant of Israel is a fundamental concept used by the Hebrew Prophets, and a key to Paul’s teaching in Romans 9 to 11. We read in Jeremiah 31: “Yes, a day will come when the Nazarenes will call out on Mount Ephraim: ‘Rise up, let us go to Zion, to the Lord, our God.’ For thus says the Lord: Shout with joy for Jacob, exult at the head of the nations; proclaim your praise and say: ‘The Lord has delivered his people, the remnant of Israel.’” (Jer 31:6-7) This is the call to the Lost Sheep of Israel to return to Zion, which is Jerusalem. It foretells the reunification of the divided Kingdom of Israel.
I love the use of four verbs here: shout, exult, proclaim, say. In a very real sense, all of us – whether Jew or Gentile – are the Remnant of Israel. This is a call for us to shout, exult, proclaim and say: “The Lord has delivered his People.”
The most prominent Prophet is Isaiah; and the Remnant of Israel is central to understanding Isaiah. The Lord told Isaiah, “Go out to meet Ahaz, you and your son Shear-Jashub…” (Isa 7:3) Then, Isaiah tells us that “I and the children whom the Lord has given me are signs and portents in Israel from the Lord.” (Isa 8:18) The name, “Shear-Jashub,” is very important; it is translated: “a remnant shall return.” In describing the “Remnant of Israel,” he says, “A remnant shall return (“shear jashub”)… for though your people, O Israel, were like the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will return.” (Isa 10:20-22)
The Hebrew word, “jashub,” can be translated either “repent” or “return”: “a remnant shall return” or “a remnant shall repent.” In Romans 9, Paul cites this verse from Isaiah in Greek, “a remnant shall be saved.” Did Paul change the text? No, he followed the Greek Septuagint. The Hebrew verb, “jashub,” applied to the Remnant of Israel in Isaiah, could be translated: a remnant will repent, return, and be saved. These three verbs also describe the restoration – into God’s covenant family – of the Prodigal Son, and of Ephraim in Jeremiah 31.
This is the message of the Gospel: if sinners repent and return to the Lord, they will be saved. All this is expressed in the name of Isaiah’s son: Shear-Jashub. Certainly Paul understood all these meanings when he wrote the Epistle to the Romans. We are called not only to repent, return, and find forgiveness for our sins, but also to share this good news with others, so that they too can be restored to God’s covenant family.
Now, with this idea of “the remnant shall repent, return, and be saved,” we turn to the Remnant of Israel prophecy in Zephaniah: “I will leave as a remnant in your midst a people humble and lowly…: the Remnant of Israel…. And no guile shall be found in their mouths.” (Zeph 3:11-13, 14, 15) Those who repent and return to the Lord will form the “humble and lowly people in whom there is found no guile.” Is this not the true vocation and identity of Israel?
Isaiah presents the fullness of Israel’s identity and vocation in the description of the Suffering Servant: “He was pierced for our offenses, crushed for our sins… the Lord laid upon him the guilt of us all… though he had done no wrong nor was any guile found in him.” (Isa 53:5, 6, 9) “Those who accept this call to be the ‘Servant of The Lord’ constitute the true Israel,” writes Gregory Vall, whom I mentioned at the start of this talk. According to Vall, Jesus expressed this vocation and identity on the Cross when He recited the beginning of Psalm 22: “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” Israel’s understanding of suffering and affliction, Vall points out, “became a key element in post-exilic Israel’s new awareness of her true identity and vocation.”
When Jesus addressed Nathaniel as “a true Israelite in whom there is no guile” (John 1:47), did He have Zephaniah’s Remnant of Israel prophecy in mind? Nathaniel fits the description of the Remnant of Israel – those who repent, return to the Lord, and are saved. “A true Israelite” implies that this person is following the true vocation and identity of Israel.
Now consider the difference between the Prodigal Son and the Suffering Servant. The Suffering Servant is innocent. Jesus is without sin. The Blessed Virgin is without sin. Joseph of Nazareth is righteous. They all suffer for the sins of others. There are many saints who suffer for the sins of others. St. Edith Stein, one of our Patrons, offered her suffering and death for her people.
But the Prodigal Son and I are sinners. We suffer for our own sins.
The Good News is that everyone – saints and sinners, Jews and Gentiles, all are invited to repent, seek the forgiveness of their sins, and enter into the fullness of human life in the Holy Jewish Family of Nazareth. All now have the opportunity to be Jesus’ adopted brother or sister, to be sons and daughters of Mary and Joseph.
Joseph has two sons: Jesus and me – or Jesus and you. Jesus is truly the “son of Joseph.” Ephraim is also truly the “son of Joseph.” We all must go to Joseph. When we repent and return to our Father’s house with contrition and a firm purpose of amendment, we are welcomed into the family by Joseph, Mary and Jesus. Through this spiritual adoption, our sufferings for our sins may now be united with the sufferings of the Holy Family.
Let me repeat this statement because it is a great mystery and it is Good News: Through this spiritual adoption, our sufferings for our sins may now be united with the sufferings of the Holy Family.
The Suffering Servant is innocent and “opens not his mouth”; he has no personal sin to confess. Ephraim, the Prodigal Son, and I have many sins to confess. And we must confess our sins.
I will end with another personal anecdote about my devotion to Nathaniel.
Jesus says Nathaniel is without guile. This evokes Psalm 32: “Blessed is he whose fault is taken away, whose sin is covered. Blessed the man to whom the Lord imputes not guilt, in whose spirit there is no guile.” (Ps 32:1-2) Nathaniel’s response, “How do you know me?” questioned how this “son of Joseph from Nazareth” could possibly know that Nathaniel’s sins were forgiven.
In my personal meditation on this gospel passage, I see Nathaniel under the fig tree confessing his sins and begging the Lord for mercy. He was a true Israelite seeking the Messiah, seeking forgiveness of his sins, seeking salvation. He prayed, fasted, and did penance for the remission of his own sins and the sins of Israel.
Nathaniel would have known the necessity of personal oral confession from Psalm 32:
“As long as I would not speak, my bones wasted away with my groaning all the day…. Then I acknowledged my sin to you, my guilt I covered not. I said, ‘I confess my faults to the Lord.’ And you took away the guilt of my sin. For this shall every faithful man pray to you in time of stress.” (Ps 32:3-6)
I see Nathaniel as a believer whose faith was weak. In fear and trembling he trusted that God would forgive his sins, but he only knew it by faith. He prayed and did penance with no confirmation that the Lord truly heard his prayer. What else could he think? Every year when the High Priest went into the Holy of Holies, Nathaniel and all true Israelites prayed and fasted in the dark night of faith – a dark night of the soul made bearable by the hope that the Lord would accept their sacrifices.
When Jesus said, “I saw you under the fig tree” Nathaniel suddenly knew that he was standing face to face with the Promised Messiah! Only one sent by the Lord could know Nathaniel’s repentance, his contrition and firm purpose of amendment
Nathaniel had a major hallelujah breakdown because now he knew that God heard his prayers and his sins were forgiven. Psalm 32 says: “Blessed is the one whose sins are forgiven.”
Nathaniel repented and turned to the Lord, and he was saved. He represents the Remnant spoken of by Zephaniah in whom there is found no guile. He is a true Israelite.
Tradition tells us that Nathaniel went forth to spread the good news and eventually gave his life for our Lord. Repentance leads to acts of mercy, as the Lord said to Isaiah: “Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? Then shall your light break forth like the dawn.” (Isaiah 58:7–8)
And the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, takes its name from this famous verse: “It is too little for you to be my servant, to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the Nazarenes of Israel; I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” (Isaiah 49:6)
I will end with one of my favorite prayers, one most of you are familiar with, so please join me.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
I confess to almighty God and to you my brothers and sisters, that I have sinned through my own fault, in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done, and in what I have failed to do; and I ask blessed Mary, ever virgin, all the angels and saints, and you, my brothers and sisters, to pray for me to the Lord our God.
May almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins, and bring us to everlasting life.
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Mark Drogin, President, Remnant of Israel