Prophecy From a Catholic Perspective (32) – The Church as Jerusalem


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

756 “Often, too, the Church is called the building of God. The Lord compared himself to the stone which the builders rejected, but which was made into the comer-stone. On this foundation the Church is built by the apostles and from it the Church receives solidity and unity. This edifice has many names to describe it: the house of God in which his family dwells; the household of God in the Spirit; the dwelling-place of God among men; and, especially, the holy temple. This temple, symbolized in places of worship built out of stone, is praised by the Fathers and, not without reason, is compared in the liturgy to the Holy City, the New Jerusalem. As living stones we here on earth are built into it. It is this holy city that is seen by John as it comes down out of heaven from God when the world is made anew, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband.

757 “The Church, further, which is called ‘that Jerusalem which is above’ and ‘our mother’, is described as the spotless spouse of the spotless lamb. It is she whom Christ ‘loved and for whom he delivered himself up that he might sanctify her.’ It is she whom he unites to himself by an unbreakable alliance, and whom he constantly ‘nourishes and cherishes.'”

The above symbols of the Church are imperative in our understanding of the readings of prophetic texts. Particularly in the Apocalypse of John, there are allusions and descriptions of a New Jerusalem, which cannot be read apart from the context of the Church. In addition, reference to the Church as the bride of Christ is integral in understanding Biblical prophetic texts.

759 “The eternal Father, in accordance with the utterly gratuitous and mysterious design of his wisdom and goodness, created the whole universe and chose to raise up men to share in his own divine life,” to which he calls all men in his Son. “The Father . . . determined to call together in a holy Church those who should believe in Christ.” This “family of God” is gradually formed and takes shape during the stages of human history, in keeping with the Father’s plan. In fact, “already present in figure at the beginning of the world, this Church was prepared in marvelous fashion in the history of the people of Israel and the old Advance. Established in this last age of the world and made manifest in the outpouring of the Spirit, it will be brought to glorious completion at the end of time.”

Note the “progression” of Church that had its roots and beginnings in early Israel, and is prophesied to be brought into glorious completion at the end of time. This may seem a bit confusing, as it sounds a bit like “progressivism,” which is condemned as heresy. The difference between this and the idea of a progressive ascendancy to salvation is that the Spirit is what guides the Church’s progression, and God is who will be responsible for the glorious completion at the end of time. The heretical concept that man will gradually ascend to a messianic progressive perfection is what is problematic, as it leaves God out of the equation.


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