Tuesday, 18 August 2015

The New Creation
From a letter attributed to Barnabas

The Lord was willing to hand over his body for destruction so that by the shedding of His Blood we might be made holy through the remission of our sins.  According to Scripture this refers to both Israel and us.  He was wounded for our transgressions and bruised by our iniquities; by his wounds we are healed.  He was led like a sheep to the slaughter, like a lamb that is dumb before its shearer.   What a debt of gratitude, then, do we owe to the Lord for letting us see the meaning of the past, for instructing us about the present and not leaving us in the ignorance about the future. 

In the words of Scripture: 
Now unjustly are nets spread for birds.  
This means that a man is justly condemned if, 
knowing the right way, 
he heads into the way of darkness.

The Lord was ready to undergo suffering for our souls’ sake, even though He is Lord of the whole earth, the one to whom God said at the foundation of the world: Let us make man in our own image and likeness.  But, in that case, my brothers, how could He allow Himself to suffer at the hands of men?  

This is the explanation.  The prophets inspired by His grace foretold what He would do; He allowed Himself to suffer because He had to be seen in the flesh, in order that He might destroy the power of death and manifest the resurrection from the dead.  In this way he would carry out the promise that had been made to our forefathers, and while still on earth prepare Himself a new people; He would also show that, after the resurrection, He was to be our judge.  Furthermore, by teaching Israel and working such great signs and wonders, He proclaimed the good news and showed the depths of His love for that people.

Having thus renewed us by forgiving our sins, He refashioned us; He gave us the souls of children, as though we had been born anew.  For it is to us that Scripture refer when the Father says to the Son: Let us make man according to our own image and likeness; and let him rule over the beasts on the earth and the birds of the air and the fish of the sea.  The Lord saw the beauty of our fashioning and added: Increase and multiply and fill the earth.

All this God said to His Son.  But let me now point out to you how He also speaks to us.  It is indeed a second act of creation that the Lord has performed in these last days; that is why He says:  Behold, I am making the last things like the first. It was this that the prophet had in mind when he said: Enter into a land flowing with milk and honey, and rule over it. It is true, you see, that we have been completely remade.  This is what God means by the words of another prophet: Behold, says the Lord, I will take the stony hearts out of this people, that is, the people whom the Spirit of the Lord foreknew, and put hearts of flesh into them.  For He willed to appear in the flesh and live among us.

And so, my brothers, 
the dwelling place of our hearts 
is a temple sacred to the Lord.  

Again, the Lord says; Let me give thanks to you in the assembly of the people.  So it is we whom He has led into a fertile land.