Prophecy From a Catholic Perspective, Part 18

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Continuing through the Catechism of the Catholic Church as it relates to prophecy:

599 Jesus’ violent death was not the result of chance in an unfortunate coincidence of circumstances, but is part of the mystery of God’s plan, as St. Peter explains to the Jews of Jerusalem in his first sermon on Pentecost: “This Jesus (was) delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God.” This Biblical language does not mean that those who handed him over were merely passive players in a scenario written in advance by God.

600 To God, all moments of time are present in their immediacy. When therefore he establishes his eternal plan of “predestination”, he includes in it each person’s free response to his grace: “In this city, in fact, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.” For the sake of accomplishing his plan of salvation, God permitted the acts that flowed from their blindness.

The idea of foreknowledge, predestination, God’s plan, etc. can be somewhat confusing to people as we struggle to make sense out of free will in the context of all these things. It is a complex exercise of thought, but is a very important thing to consider and understand. God has had complete foreknowledge of all of the events in human history since the first moment in time. However, that foreknowledge does not imply that He is the direct cause of our actions. We have free will. He knows in advance what our response will be. He also knows each of our hearts. Certainly, God did not send Jesus to earth to manipulate any person into personal damnation. That Jesus knew – and in fact even warned at the Last Supper of His knowing – of the betrayal of Judas was in no way a manipulation of events. It was in the heart of Judas to do such a thing, and while it is sure to have sadden Jesus that he would do it, such betrayal was ultimately used then to achieve the end that was necessary. Thus, God knowing the hearts of all men involved, Jesus was placed in the right time and place to accomplish the plan of Salvation. Jesus still preached and answered their questions, but their own pride is what led to the Crucifixion of Jesus.

The reason this is important in the realm of prophecy is because prophecy by its nature suggests that there is a predestined path of human events. We are told that some are conditional: a proper response by people can mitigate or undo our current course. In this way, God is perfect in foreknowledge of an infinite number of ways in which history can unfold. That He already knows how we will respond so as to see the prophetic unfold or not is not the issue. It is our own response to it that is the issue. For one thing, these prophecies are, in general, communal. The whole of the human race may take a course of action that leads to imminent response, but we still make our own individual choices, and can concern ourselves with our own Salvation, and that of others around us. So prophetic messages are incorporated into God’s ever-unfolding plan for two major purposes: (1) to initiate a response of good from the community of believers – prayer, fasting, and conversion – to avert the negative consequences of the current path we are on (conditional prophecy) and (2) to initiate individual responses, even if the community largely ignores messages and warnings. The individual response is not only a prayerful one, but also one of recognition and preparation, as well as understanding. We can do things to help prepare for coming events, and we can also understand that what unfolds is not something God revels in, but is a necessary response to man’s inhumanity to man, and man’s rejection of God.

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One response »

  1. wondered the same thing myself. In fact, after pitutng up my blog post today, I ended up commenting to my own post with the news of this madness and how they’ll have to edit Jesus a LOT to cut out liberal stuff.I love how updating the language to more modern and inclusive things is EVIL, but changing “casting lots” to “gambling” is OK, even though the two are often NOT interchangeable given what casting lots really was back in those times.Hypocrisy, thy name is NeoCon! Or Wingnut. Or Palin…

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