If you were like me back in August of 2002, your beach vacation was disturbed by the strange publication of “Reflections on Covenant and Mission.” This was a “study document” prepared by theologians of dubious probity. The media reported that the Catholic Church had given up evangelizing Jews.
Some of the people I know and love the most are Jews. I have two Jewish nephews. My best high-school buddies are Jews.
I try to be mannerly about it, but of course they all know that if they said the word, I would baptize them immediately. Then I would get some champagne.
So if you too were nonplussed back in August ’02, then you will rejoice with me: The Catholic Bishops of the United States have issued an official clarification of Church teaching on the matter of preaching the Gospel to Jews. It is not prohibited.
Praise God! Praise Christ! May God save us all by gathering us all into His holy Church!
“Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.” (Matthew 10:40)
…Imagine a man walking past the parking lot of a Catholic parish. He sees a family standing next to their new car, and the priest is praying and sprinkling the car with holy water.
After the blessing is over, the man approaches the owner of the new car and asks, “Why do you imagine that having a priest bless your car will do you any good? Do you think that this will cause God to act in your favor?”
(Someone could ask a similar question of anyone who has a Mass said for someone, or confesses his sins to a priest, or has his baby baptized, or goes to the church and approaches the priest for any reason. “Why do you think this will do you any good?”)
Good question. The car owner could reply, “This is what I was taught to do. We Catholics seek the good things of God by asking priests to bless us and our things. This is what I was raised to do.”
Good answer! But then the stranger asks, “Are you saying, then, that this has nothing to do with me, since I was not raised Catholic? And, after all, how did this whole business of priests blessing people and things get started anyhow?”
Excellent question! The answer is: It all started when God Himself became man and founded the holy Catholic Church by sending out the Twelve Apostles. The reason we believe that the Church dispenses the good things of God is: God Himself set things up this way!
2 thoughts on “Because God Designed it So”
Years ago, I complained bitterly and wrote several bishops about their teaching and policy toward the Jews. I suspect Pope Benedict XVI is behind these new tough clarifications about salvation truth and our Jewish friends. We told the Jewish community what they wanted to hear, not what they needed to hear.
We believe that Jesus is “the way and the truth and the life”. There is no other way to the Father. His is the saving name. He is the universal redeemer. There is no other. Jews can disagree with this, but they have no right to dictate Catholic doctrine as some tried with the revised Tridentine Good Friday petitions.
Passive bishops and liberal teachers who have worked in past consultations are partly to blame for the situation we endured. Some talk as if there is one covenant for Jews and another for Christians. This is absurd. The late Cardinal-priest Avery Dulles rejected this notion as without merit. Christ is the fulfillment of the Messianic promise. The Catholic Church is the new People of God, the new Jerusalem, the new Zion. It is not the fragmented Jewish religion as such and despite the contentions of orthodox Jews, Protestant fundamentalists and Jews for Jesus, neither is it the modern political state of Israel. God has established one covenant, and while God has not forgotten his promises to the Jewish people, that covenant has been transformed and renewed in Christ.
Bishops have made all sorts of guidelines and restrictions regarding Christian outreach to Jews. They could come to us but we were generally forbidden (despite the Gospel admonition) to take the Gospel to them. This policy has upset me for many years because it inherently devalues the Good News and the desire of Christ for all men to know him and to be saved. Such a policy would have aborted or brought to miscarriage the primitive Church in Jerusalem. All the first Christians were Jews and the initial proclamation was not to the Gentiles but to other Jews.
References to Jewish fault for the passion and death of Christ are regularly featured in the news. Modern translations and omissions seek to soften the blow of Scripture on this point. However, it is a serious error to absolve the Jews of all guilt for the death of Christ. The Council of Trent made very clear that Jesus was crucified by the accumulative sins of ALL MANKIND throughout ALL HUMAN HISTORY. We are all at fault. We are all guilty of deicide. We all have the blood of Christ on our hands.
The shift is also present in our prayers.
The new prayer offered by the Holy See for the Tridentine Good Friday service is far superior to the one currently used in the text and ICEL translation of the reformed liturgy. The English text talks about a generic love of God and the hope that Jews will “arrive at the fullness of redemption” but without mentioning Christ as the redeemer. It is implied, but so gently that it might be dismissed. It states:
“Let us pray for the Jewish people, the first to hear the word of God, that they may continue to grow in the love of his name and in faithfulness to his covenant. / Almighty and eternal God, long ago you gave your promise to Abraham and his posterity. Listen to your Church as we pray that the people you first made your own may arrive at the fullness of redemption.”
The new petition for the old Latin service states:
NEW TEXT FOR TRAD LATIN GOOD FRIDAY SERVICE (translation):
“Let us pray for the Jews. May the Lord Our God enlighten their hearts so that they may acknowledge Jesus Christ, the savior of all men. / Almighty and everlasting God, you who want all men to be saved and to reach the awareness of the truth, graciously grant that, with the fullness of peoples entering into your church, all Israel may be saved.”
In response to your post Reach Out, I just wanted you to know that I am here. *smile* I happened upon your blog when I was searching ‘The Year of Priest’.
I have three blogs that I post to. One of my blogs The Floral Path is where I go to reflect. I started it last year and got away from it as no one was coming around to visit and I felt kind of alone. But, I came back.
One of my other blogs is about my everyday life-Say-very Sweet Things…What I am trying to say is, I am glad to see that you have continued blogging. I find your blog insightful and entertaining. Thank you.