Fourth Sunday in Easter

All Nations Shall Serve Him

I have made you a light to the Gentiles,
that you may be an instrument of salvation
to the ends of the earth.
Acts 13:47

I, John, had a vision of a great multitude,
Which no one could count,
From every nation, race, people, and tongue.
They stood before the throne and before the Lamb.
Revelation 7:9

How Paul and Barnabas fulfilled the mission that brought every race and nation before the throne of God is the mystery of grace that works in the world to the glory of God, fulfilling John’s vision of the conversion of the vast multitude of the elect, citizens of the Kingdom of God.  It is a kingdom spread not by violence but by loyalty to its convictions and love in its witness to the world.  Daniel prophesies of Christ: “To Him was given dominion and glory and kingdom, that all peoples, races, and tongues should serve Him” (7:13–14).  

          Blessed John Henry Newman in the sixteenth of his Sermons on Subjects of the Day described the Church as an imperial power, and scripture is insistent that the kingdom of Christ is not an idea or a philosophy but a kingdom whose king rules hearts in a way that commands their first loyalty, so that the Church of God in history is aggressive, not with an army but through an invincible, unbending witness. That witness begins in Hebrew Scriptures.  The Three Children will not worship the king’s idol (Daniel 3:8–4:30).  In 168 Mattathias the Maccabean cannot tolerate the conquest of the Jewish heart and nation by the culture of the Greeks (I Maccabees 2).  For three centuries, from Pentecost to Constantine, the martyrs would die, until their witness brought the Roman Empire into the empire of Christ.  The apostles will seek peace but when the day comes they will obey God rather than man.   Thomas More and the Carthusians do not attack the King for his unlawful marriage but they will not bend to it. In the exercise of its authority and discipline the Church offers not anger but steadfastness witness. Continue reading “Fourth Sunday in Easter”