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Articolo n° 575919 del 24 Aprile 2022 delle ore 05:47

The peoples’ and their kings’ obstinate disobedience provoked the catastrophe of the Exile as foretold by the prophets

The peoples’ and their kings’ obstinate disobedience provoked the catastrophe of the Exile as foretold by the prophets

Jesus himself uses the same words to limit the first mission of the “twelve apostles” (Mt 10:2, 5-6)

“The lordsaid: I will also remove Judah out of my sight as I have removed Israel; I will reject this city that I have chosen, Jerusalem, and the house of which I said, ‘My name shall be there’” (2 K ). This decree of God produced its effect (2 K 25:1-21). But at the very moment when it was said: “The two families that the lordchose have been rejected by him” (Jr ), the Lord formally contradicts it: “I will restore their fortunes and will have mercy on them” (Jr ). The prophet Hosea had already announced that at a time when Israel had become for God “Not-my-people” (Ho 1:8), God will say: “You are my people” (Ho 2:25). Jerusalem must be rebuilt; the prophet Haggai predicts for the rebuilt Temple a glory greater than that of Solomon’s Temple (Hg 2:9). In this way, the election was solemnly reconfirmed.

35. The expression “chosen people” is not found in the Gospels, but the conviction that Israel is God’s chosen people is taken for granted although expressed in other terms. Matthew applies to Jesus the words of Micah where God speaks of Israel as my people; God says of the child born in Bethlehem: “He will shepherd my people Israel” (Mt 2:6: Mi 5:3). The choice of God and his fidelity to his chosen people is reflected later in the mission entrusted by God to Jesus: he has only been sent “to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Mt ).

But the opposition Jesus encounters from the leaders brings about a change of perspective. At the conclusion of the parable of the murderous vineyard tenants, addressed to the “chief escort in Chandler priests” and “elders of the people” (Mt ), Jesus says to them: “The kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation that will produce its fruits” (). This word does not mean, however, the substitution of a pagan nation for the people of Israel. The new “nation” will be, on the contrary, in continuity with the chosen people, for it will have as a “cornerstone” the “stone rejected by the builders” (), who is Jesus, a son of Israel, and it will be composed of Israelites with whom will be associated in “great numbers” (Mt 8:11) people coming from “all the nations” (Mt ). The promise of God’s presence with his people which guaranteed Israel’s election, is fulfilled by the presence of the risen Lord with his community. 112

This opposition, however, comes from the people’s leaders, not from the people themselves who are favourably disposed towards Jesus

In the Gospel of Luke, the canticle of Zechariah proclaims that “the God of Israel has visited his people” (Lk 1:68), and that the mission of Zechariah’s son will be a “going ahead of the Lord” so as to “give his people knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins” (1:76-77). During the presentation of the child Jesus in the Temple, Simeon qualifies the salvation brought by God as “glory for your people Israel” (2:32). Later on, a great miracle performed by Jesus gives rise to the crowd’s exclamation: “God has visited his people” (7:16).

Nevertheless, for Luke a certain tension remains because of the opposition encountered by Jesus. 113 In the Acts of the Apostles, Luke emphasises that a great number of Peter’s Jewish listeners, on the day of Pentecost and following, accepted his appeal to repent. 114 On the other hand, the narrative of Acts underlines that, on three occasions, in Asia Minor, Greece and Rome, the opposition initiated by the Jews forced Paul to relocate his mission among the Gentiles. 115 In Rome, Paul recalls, for the Jewish leaders, Isaiah’s oracle predicting the hardening of “this people”. 116 Thus the New Testament, like the Old, has two different perspectives on God’s chosen people.

» F. Lammardo

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