The last decades of Judah and the beginning of the Exile were accompanied by the preaching of many prophets

The last decades of Judah and the beginning of the Exile were accompanied by the preaching of many prophets

These crimes led to the greatest threats the prophets could hurl against Israel and Judah: the Lord will reject his people. 220 This will lead to the destruction of Jerusalem and its Temple, where his beneficent and protecting presence dwells. 221

But the Lord had never resigned himself to accepting this rupture

Like Hosea, Jeremiah enumerates sins 222 and shows that abandoning the lordis the root of all evil (2:13); he brands idolatry as adultery and prostitution. 223 Ezechiel does the same in lengthy chapters (Ezk 16; 23) and calls the Israelites a “brood of rebels” (2:5,6,7,8), “stubborn and hard-hearted” (2:4;3:7). The force of the prophetic accusations is astonishing. What is surprising is that Israel gave them such a large place in its Scriptures, which shows a sincerity and humility that is exemplary.

During the Exile and after, the Judean and Jewish community acknowledged their sins through liturgies and prayers in a national confession

When they contemplated their past, the people of the Sinai covenant could only pass a severe judgement on themselves: their history had been a long succession of infidelities. The punishments were deserved. The covenant had been broken. 225 He had always offered the grace of conversion and resumption of relations, in a more intimate and stable form. 226

53. John the Baptist follows the ancient prophets in his call for repentance to the “brood of vipers” (Mt 3:7; Lk 3:7) that flocked to his preaching. This preaching was based on the conviction that a divine intervention was about to take place. The judgement was imminent: “Already the axe is at the root of the tree” (Mt 3:10; Lk 3:9). Conversion was then a matter of urgency.

Like that of John, the preaching of Jesus is a call to conversion, made urgent by the proximity of the reign of God (Mt 4:17); it is at the same time the announcement of “the good news”, of a favourable intervention of God (Mk 1:14-15). Shocked at their refusal to believe, Jesus had recourse to invective, like the prophets of old. He castigates this “evil and adulterous generation” (Mt ), “unbelieving and perverted generation” (), and announces a judgement more severe than that which befell Sodom (; cf. Is 1:10).

The rejection of Jesus by the leaders of his people, who carried with them the population of Jerusalem, increased their guilt to its extreme degree. The divine sanction will be the same as in Jeremiah’s time: the capture of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple. 227 But – as in Jeremiah’s time – God is not satisfied merely to punish, he also offers pardon. To the Jews of Jerusalem who have “killed the Prince of Life” (Ac 3:15), Peter preaches repentance and promises forgiveness of sins (3:19). Less severe than the ancient prophets, he regards their sin as one committed “in ignorance”. 228 Thousands respond to his appeal. 229

In the Apostolic Letters, although exhortations and warnings are very frequent, and accompanied at times by threats of condemnation for sin, 230 reproaches and condemnations as such are relatively rare, though not lacking in severity. 231

In the Letter to the Romans, Paul draws up a forceful indictment against “those who by their wickedness suppress the truth” (Rm 1:18). The basic fault of the pagans is their failure to recognise God (1:21); their punishment consists of being handed over by God into the grip of immorality. 232 The Jews are reproached for their inconsistency: their conduct contrasts with their knowledge of the Law (Rm 2:17-24).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *