§ 877 “The Lord Jesus instituted the Twelve as the seeds of the new Israel and the beginning of the sacred hierarchy.”
The Catholic Church, the Church of the twelve Apostles as the fulfillment of the twelve tribes of Israel, including fulfillment of the 613 mitzvot daily Temple sacrifices by re-presenting Rabbi Yeshua’s one Final Sacrifice. “Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them” Mt 5:17.
Abraham for All the Earth
God’s revelation through Moses was only for his people Israel Deut 7:1–5 to protect their souls from the pagan tribes Deut 20:18. Even today, the Jews living most intensely the life of Torah are the haredim, who isolate themselves from the larger culture even to the point of often speaking Yiddish among one another. Modern Orthodoxy speaks of “Torah and culture.” But Abram’s mission was for all the families of the earth. Our Father had already planned the arrival of His Mashiakh. Rabbi Yeshua opened it to the whole world. “You shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth” Acts 1:8.
Trees of Gethsemane
In the Garden of Gethsemane, where Rabbi Yeshua prayed and prepared for his Crucifixion, there are immense trees more than two thousand years old, living witnesses to Rabbi Yeshua’s living presence there during his Final Sacrifice.
Rabbi Yeshua Split All History in Two
Rabbi Yeshua’s arrival hit the earth with such force that it split all history in two. Every event is marked in time by how many years it occurred before or after his arrival. And so he instituted the Catholic Church as the new Israel, Israel transformed by the Messiah. God the Father sent Rabbi Yeshua, his Son Jn 3:16, to redeem the world from the original sin Gen 2:17; 3:6 of our first parents.
The Catholic Church and the Twelve Tribes
At that time the most learned rabbis ordinarily had five disciples. Disciples were memorizers of the rabbi’s oral teaching. Rabbi Yeshua chose twelve shlikhim, one for each of the twelve tribes of Israel. Rabbi Yeshua told his shlikhim: “Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of man shall sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” Mt 19:28.
The Catholic Church as the New Israel
Vatican II‘s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, Chapter II § 9, published by Pope Paul VI on November 21, 1964, says: “Israel according to the flesh, which wandered as an exile in the desert, was already called the Church of God. So likewise the new Israel which while living in this present age goes in search of a future and abiding city is called the Church of Christ.” We find the same term mentioned in Vatican II‘s Ad Gentes, Decree on the Missionary Activity of the Church, § 5, published by Paul VI on December 7, 1965, which says: “From the very beginning, the Lord Jesus called to Himself those whom He wished; and He caused twelve of them to be with Him, and to be sent out preaching (Mark 3:13; cf. Matt. 10:1–42). Thus the Apostles were the first budding – forth of the new Israel, and at the same time the beginning of the sacred hierarchy.” Finally, the Catechism of the Catholic Church § 877, says: “Likewise, it belongs to the sacramental nature of ecclesial ministry that it have a collegial character. In fact, from the beginning of his ministry, the Lord Jesus instituted the Twelve as “the seeds of the new Israel and the beginning of the sacred hierarchy.”
Before Rabbi Yeshua’s Crucifixion ancient Israel was God’s witness to the twelve tribes. After his Crucifixion the Catholic Church is the new Israel. We too struggle against the stain of original sin to keep God’s great command that summarizes all of the Torah: “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might” Deut 6:5. Since we are God’s image Gen 1:27, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” Lev 19:18 follows from it. Rabbi Yeshua confirmed that these two commandments summarize all of the Torah mitzvot. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets” Mt 22:37–40.
It gets harder. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another” Jn 13:34. Rabbi Yeshua sacrificed his mortal life on the Cross in excruciating agony for us, for sinners. These things are above human possibility but “all things are possible with God” Mt 19:26. He has given us sacraments that, validly celebrated, shower us with sanctifying grace to help us prepare for heaven.
Sometimes people hear “Israel” and “New Israel” and conclude that there are two Israels. No, there is one Israel, today divided.
Ancient Israel began when God changed Jacob’s name to Isra-el. In Hebrew, Isra is struggle. El is a short form for God. The children of Israel became heads of the twelve tribes of Israel. The new Israel arose from Rabbi Yeshua‘s twelve shlikhim. “Salvation is from the Jews” Jn 4:22. Many Jews followed him, others did not follow.
Lumen Gentium § 9; Ad Gentes, § 5; CCC § 877.