Monday, April 2, 2012

Nostra Aetate, Holy Week, and the Persecution of Jews

We are now in Holy Week when I write this article.  Maybe I should have started this earlier?  But as they say, better late than never...

The events of Holy Week bring salvation history to a culmination in the passion, death, and resurrection of our Messiah!  For those of us who are Catholics and Christians this is the most important week of our year. 

For those Jews who have yet to come to faith in their Messiah this has sometimes been a week of great persecution and hatred.  How hypocritical!  The Messiah who came from the Jewish people and will return at the end of time when his Jewish people finally cry out to him, "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord",  has had to witness hatred and crimes perpetrated on his own people during this most Holy time.  How tragic!  May G-d have mercy on the Church. 

So I thought I would take this opportunity to take some quotes from the document of Vatican II that deals with Relationships of the Church to Non-Christian Religions, "Nostra Aetate". I want to remind all of us in the Church what the Magisterium teaches regarding our relationship to Jews and Judaism.

I do this because I want to be sure that faithful Catholics know exactly what the Church teaches and I want us to apply to this knowledge in relationships we have with our Jewish families, neighbors, and colleagues.  This will hopefully dispel any misinformation and bring both Jews and Catholics, including Hebrew Catholics closer thereby making our Lord's return closer to reality. 

CCC 674 states, " the glorious Messiah's coming is suspended at every moment in history until his recognition by "all Israel".   As Catholics we actually are suspending our Lord's return even further due to any hatred and lack of charity we might harbor toward the Jewish people. 

So here are a few quotes from Nostra Aetate:  In paragragh 4, "Thus the Church of Christ acknowledges that, according to G-d's saving design, the beginnings of her faith and her election are found already among the Patriarchs, Moses, and the Prophets.  She professes that all who believe in Christ - Abraham's sons according to faith - are included in the same Patriarch's  call, and likewise that that salvation of the Church is mysteriously foreshadowed by the chosen people's exodus from the land of bondage. The Church, therefore, cannot forget that she received the revelation of the Old Testament through the people with whom G-d in His inexpressible mercy concluded the Ancient Covenant.  Nor can she forget that she draws sustenance from the root of that well-cultivated olive tree onto which have been grafted the wild shoots, the Gentiles.  Indeed, the Church believes that by His cross Christ Our Peace reconciled Jews and Gentiles, making both one in Himself.

The Church keeps ever in mind the words of the Apostle about his kinsmen: "theirs is the sonship and the glory and the covenant and the law and the worship and the promises; theirs are the fathers and from them is the Christ according to the flesh" (Rom 9:4-5), the Son of the Virgin Mary.  She also recalls that the Apostles, the Church's mainstay and pillars, as well as most of the early disciples who proclaimed Christ's Gospel to the world, sprang from the Jewish people.

As Holy Scripture testifies, Jerusalem did not recognise the time of her visitation, nor did the Jews, in large number, accept the Gospel; indeed not a few opposed its spreading.  Nevertheless, G-d holds the Jews most dear for the sake of their Fathers; He does not repent of the gifts He makes or of the calls He issues - such as the witness of the Apostle.  In company with the Prophets and the same Apostle, the Church awaits that day, known to G-d alone, on which all peoples will address the Lord in a single voice and serve him shoulder to shoulder.

Since the spiritual patrimony common to all Christians and Jews is thus so great, this Sacred Synod wants to foster and recommend that mutual understanding and respect which is the fruit, above all, of biblical and theological studies as well as fraternal dialogues.

True, the Jewish authorities and those who followed their lead pressed for the death of Christ; still what happened in His passion canned be charged against all the Jews, without distinction, then alive, nor against the Jews of today.  Although the Church is the new people of G-d, the Jews should not be presented as rejected by G-d or accursed, as if this followed from the Holy Scriptures. All should see to it, then, that in catechetical work and in the preaching of the word of G-d they do not teach anything that does not conform to the truth of the Gospel and the spirit of Christ."

Our hope and prayer is for those who teach the faith become more familiar with this document and instruct the faithful.  I believe great strides have been made but more work needs to be done!  The Jewish people will not come to faith en masse under the environment of hatred and persecution and His return is suspended at every moment of history until his recogntion by "all Israel".

Have a blessed Holy Week/Easter and remember that Yeshua willingly gave his life for us so that we can be free from the slavery of sin and so fulfill the Passover!

Mother Miriam Mystical Rose and St. Edith Stein pray for us!  Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem!

Shalom in Yeshua and Miriam,
Gershon ben Sha'ul

Thursday, March 29, 2012

How Jesus Perfected the Passover Seder

How Jesus Perfected the Passover Seder

This is from Catholics for Israel.

There are some excellent resources on this website. 

Shalom in Yeshua and Miriam,
Gershon ben Sha'ul

Sunday, March 25, 2012

2nd Annual Pesach Seder

We just finished our 2nd Annual Pesach Seder!  What a blessing for all who attended.  Thanks to everyone's help we were able to pull this off with about 2 weeks notice. 

We were blessed to have 4 new people this year.  I must admit that every year I do this Passover I pick up something new.  The connections between Judaism and Catholicism are so obvious and profound. 

One of our guests was a Hebrew Catholic, Deanna.  She and her husband came into the Church back in the 80`s and yet this was her first Hebrew Catholic Seder!  She was so excited and blessed.  May Almighty G-d continue to bless you with good health and much joy, Deanna.

One of the main reasons for our Havurah and the AHC in general is to allow and encourage those of us in the Church with Jewish backgrounds to retain and develop our Jewish customs and identity.  Too often in the past we were forced to assimilate into the Church and so lose our Jewish identity. 

We live in a time that Jews no longer have to hide their identity in the Church.  We also live in a time when our non Jewish brothers and  sisters want to learn more of their Jewish roots and experience the roots of our Lord and our Blessed Mother. 

Many Catholics and Christians have deepened their faith and their love of Yeshua through a deeper understanding of their Jewish roots.  We also can appreciate those of Jewish faith who have not yet made the journey home to the Church.  So this is the perfect way we can combat all forms of anti-semitism and anti-Jewish theology.

It has been our experience that when Catholics and Christians understand and appreciate their Jewish roots that it becomes impossible to hate or dismiss their Jewish brothers and sisters both inside and outside the Church.  They also learn to love the State of Israel and recognize that Israel is a fulfillment of G-d's promise to His People.  We will continue to work within the Church to ensure that those of Jewish background are encouraged and free to live out their Hebrew Catholic lives with dignity and honor.  We also continue to work within the Church to share our Jewish roots so that all of us can grow even closer to and in our love for our Lord Yeshua HaMashiach and our Blessed Mother Miriam. 

And in the final words of every Seder around the world, Next Year in Jerusalem!

Miriam Mystical Rose and St. Edith Stein, pray for us!

Shalom in Yeshua and Miriam,
Gershon ben Sha'ul

Monday, January 2, 2012

Prayer for the Conversion of the Jewish People

"O G-d, You manifest Your mercy and compassion toward all peoples.  Have mercy on the Jewish race, Your chosen people.  You chose them alone of all nations to be custodians of Your secrets and patriarchs to announce the coming of the Redeemer.  You willed that Your only Son, Jesus the Messiah, our Lord and Savior, should be a Jew according the the flesh, born of a Jewish maiden in the land of promise.  Hear the prayers we offer for the conversion of Israel.  Grant that soon it may come to the knowledge and love of our Lord Jesus, the Messiah foretold by the prophets, and may walk with us in the way of salvation.  Amen!"

This is a prayer found in Father Hardon's "Catholic Prayer Book", with one small revision.  This prayer in it's original form had the word, "once", in front of "Your Chosen People".  I took the liberty to change this since we know that from our Holy Scriptures in Romans, chapter 11:29 that the gifts and the call of G-d are irrevocable."   We know that even if we are not faithful that G-d is always faithful to his promises. 

Let us pray for the salvation of all Israel.  Miriam Mystical Rose and St. Edith Stein, pray for us!

Shalom in Yeshua,
Gershon ben Sha'ul

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Mazel Tov! It’s a Boy!

The Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God is celebrated on January 1st, exactly 8 days after the Nativity of our Lord.  In Jewish tradition, the 8th day is the Brit Milah (circumcision) for every baby boy.  This was and is the sign of the Abrahamic Covenant. So this would have been the day that our Lord would have been circumcised.  In fact, this Feast of the Circumcision was celebrated for centuries by our Church before 1974. 

In the early centuries of the Church, January 1st was used as a celebration of the Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary but by the 13th and 14th centuries the Feast of the Circumcision of Christ had come to replace the Marian feast in many areas.  By 1570, Pope Pius V expanded the Feast to the entire Roman Catholic Church.  Then in 1914, the feast of the “Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary” was established in Portugal, occurring on October 11. In 1931 this feast was expanded to the entire Roman Catholic Church and stayed on October 11.  Then after the Second Vatican Council in 1974, Pope Paul VI removed the Feast of the Circumcision of Christ from the liturgical calendar and replaced it with the Feast of the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. 

We, who are of Hebrew origin understand very clearly that this day is still a celebration of both Motherhood and her baby boy.  We love our Jewish Blessed Mother, Miriam and love to celebrate her as “Theotokos”, the Mother of G-d.  She is the quintessential Jewish Mother.  And even though we no longer officially celebrate the Circumcision we are free to acknowledge that our Lord was circumcised on the 8th day after his birth.  This 8th day for every Jewish family then and even today is a celebration of the birth of a son.  It is also the day when the Jewish baby boy is given his name, formally.  It is a family celebration of the birth of a baby and is also a celebration of Motherhood and Parenthood. 

In Catholic Christian tradition this Feast has deep theological significance too.  This is important because it is the first of seven times that our Messiah spilled his blood for all mankind.  They are:

  1. The Circumcision
  2. The Agony in the Garden
  3. The Scourging at the Pillar
  4. The Crowning with Thorns
  5. The Via Crucis
  6. The Crucifixion
  7. The Piercing of His Side

It is also the time when our Lord received his name, Yeshua.  I always wondered why more English speaking people do not question the name, Jesus.  Our Lord’s Hebrew name has so much significance but is often lost in English translation.  Yeshua, in Hebrew means Savior or Yahweh our Savior.  An Angel told Miriam that she will conceive and have a son and she will name him Yeshua.  Our Blessed Mother would have known instinctively what the Angel was really telling her.  (Matt 2: 18-23).  Similarly, Christ is not his last name but the Greek translation of His Title, in Hebrew Mashiach or Messiah.  Messiah simply means the Anointed One.  So in Hebrew, Yeshua haMashiach, Jesus the Messiah or Jesus the Christ! 

Circumcision in Hebrew is “Brit Milah” or in most Jewish families it is called a “Bris”.  So the Bris of our Lord occurred on the 8th day following his birth on January 1st. Even though the Church does not formerly celebrate this Feast any longer it is still important to all Catholics and Christians. This day in a Jewish family is full of joy and also some anxiety for it is the day that the Mohel, or the Rabbi who is trained to do the ritual circumcision comes to the home with a house full of people to perform the circumcision. This is a day that families extended families, friends, neighbors; celebrate the birth a baby boy and honor the new parents.  In fact, the first thing all the visitors say to the new Mother and Father is “Mazel Tov”! 

Of course, we are obedient to the Holy Father and celebrate the Feast of Miriam’s Motherhood and Miriam always leads us to her son, in this case  her and “our” baby boy. Along with the shedding of blood, our Lord also gets his name and lives among us.  This is G-d becoming one of us. 

So on January 1st we shout Mazel Tov, it’s a boy and his name is Yeshua and he is our Messiah.  Let us celebrate this Feast with renewed love and appreciation for Yeshua and Miriam and the Jewish roots of our Faith.   

St. Edith Stein and Miriam Mystical Rose, pray for us!

Shalom in Yeshua,
Gershon ben Sha'ul 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Shana Tova!

On eve of Sept 28th of September Jews all over the world celebrate Rosh Hashanah or the Jewish New Year.  This will be year 5772!  You might ask yourself, where is that in the Scriptures?  Actually, the Scriptures talk about this day as Yom Teruah or in English, Day of the sounding of the Trumpet.  (Leviticus 23:23-25)

So how did this day turn into Rosh Hashanah or Head of the Year?  You might know that the first month is the month of Nissan and this is the month that Passover is celebrated.  So how did the month of Tishrei, the 7th month, end up as the New Year?  As you will see this time of the year became the Spiritual New Year for Israel.

First, in Leviticus we are commanded to Blow the Shofar and this is done because we are called to regather for the 10 Days of Awe and Repentance.  These are the days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. We are called to reflect deeply on our relationship with God and each other.

In order to understand the significance of these 10 days we must go back to the month previous, Elul.  Jewish tradition teaches that on the first day of the month of Elul Moses ascended Mount Sinai in order to receive the second set of Tablets of the Law and that he descended on Yom Kippur about 40 days later.  So the month of Elul plus the 10 days to Yom Kippur are about 40 days.  It was during this time that Moses spent time in G-d's presence receiving God's revelation and a time spent in preparation to share this with all of Israel.  I just bet this must have been a humbling experience to say the least!

For us Catholics and Christians of all kinds, this sounds very familiar.  In our Liturgical calendar we have a time called Lent. Our time of Lent is the fulfillment of the month of Elul that leads to Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.  And much like the time in the Jewish calendar this is also a time of deep introspection and repentance as we prepare for fulfillment of Passover or Easter and the resurrection. 

So the blowing of the Shofar is the call to repentance and the Spiritual New Year.  We are also very hopeful as we seek G-d's ultimate forgiveness on Yom Kippur.  As Catholics we rejoice that G-d sent his Son as our Kippur (Atonement).  

As we celebrate this special time of year in our Havurah we are to remember that God provided us the final atonement through Jesus the Messiah.  We are to ask G-d that He would reveal to His chosen people the mysterious truth that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah and that we can have forgiveness for all our sins once and for all through His shed blood. 

This is a time when many of our Jewish brothers and sisters are seeking G-d.  Their hearts are open to the truth and it is our responsibility to share the truth in love with whomever G-d puts in our path, for we are not ashamed of the Gospel for it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. (Rom 1:16) 

We will celebrate with apples and honey, honey cake, and all things sweet.  We will blow the shofar in anticipation of the Final Trumpet blast when Jesus returns in the final resurrection.  (1 Thes 4:16-18)

If you know any Jews or Hebrew Catholics it is customary to send them a Rosh Hashanah card to wish them a sweet and happy New Year.  Even if they might not be ready to hear or accept the Jewish Messiah we can use this time to build bridges of trust and cooperation between our communities.  Remember G-d will bless those who bless his people.  (Gen 12:3)

Shana Tova!  Happy New Year!  May G-d fill you with His Shalom!  Miriam Mystical Rose pray for the salvation of ALL Israel.

Shalom in Yeshua and Miriam,
Gershon ben Sha'ul

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Finishing Up "The Crucified Rabbi" and More

We are just about ready to finish our first book study of our Havurah.  We are finishing up the last 3 chapters of Marshall Taylor's, The Crucified Rabbi" on July 31.

It has been a terrific study and we have had some lively discussions about how Jewish our Catholic Church really is.  Yeshua himself said that I came not to abolish but to fulfill (Matt 5:17) and our study has shown us that it is truly the Catholic Church that is the fulfillment of Judaism and the Old Covenant.  While it is true that Christianity in general also fulfills much of Judaism it does not have the fullness of truth that was passed down through the Apostles and the Early Church Fathers. 

This study has invigorated our faith and has brought us closer to our Lord and Savior, Yeshua.  It has also confirmed and deepened our veneration of our Blessed Jewish Mother, Miriam and the Catholic Church which is post Messianic Judaism. 

I believe that not only has our study deepened our Catholic faith but it has also brought us to a closer understanding and appreciation for the Jewish point of view and all Jewish people whether they are believers in Jesus or not. 

It is vital that we as Catholics have a deep understanding of the plan of salvation for the Jewish people and especially those that have yet to come to faith.  G-d has promised us that all Israel will be saved (Rom 11:26).

We also know that since it was the Jewish believers who shared the Gospel with the Gentiles it is now a matter of justice that Gentiles are now to share the Gospel with our Jewish family, friends, and neighbors.  There is a myth among some in the Church that we are not evangelize Jews but this could not be further from the truth.  There is only one name by which we are saved. (Acts 4:12) Even though we are confident that at the end G-d will bring all Israel to faith we are seeing more Jews who are coming to know their Jewish Messiah, Jesus.  And the Catholic Church is the surest way to salvation so why would we withhold this truth? 

When we share the faith we are always respectful and never try to be deceptive.  Our lives are to be so joyful and blessed that Jew and Gentile alike are to be jealous and want to know what makes us different. We are to provoke to jealousy.  If Jesus is off limits to Jews then all our faith is in vain.

Let us also be aware there is still much anti-semitism in the Church and even in some of the theology.  There are some in the Church that believe in hyper super-secionism which is the idea that since Jews rejected Jesus that Jews are now cut off from G-d and have no further election as a people since the Church replaced Israel.  This is also a very dangerous idea, it is unscriptural and certainly not what our Church teaches (Rom 11:29).  We need to be aware and ready to do battle against both heresies.

On a related topic we are also seeing that Catholics and non-Catholics are both discovering their Jewish roots and it is through the Jewish believers in both camps that real unity in the Body of Christ can be realized.  Let me make a case in point.  Recently the Messianic Jewish TV ministry of Jonathan Bernis invited Hebrew Catholic, Roy Schoeman to be his guest.  Roy shares his faith journey and Jonathan has recommended his book, "Salvation is from the Jews".   This could be the first fruits of collaboration between Catholic and non-Catholic Christians.  We know that G-d will use the Jews once again at the end of time to rekindle the faith of Jews and fallen away Gentiles from Christianity.  This is one of the reasons that Satan hates this work and will do anything he can to discredit and discourage this from moving forward.  We need to encourage and support his effort.

Let's do battle together and let's watch and recommend this video,  you will love it!

Also we will consider reading, this Hebrew Catholic classic, "Salvation if from the Jews".  We are taking the month of August off but will start up again in September and we look forward to celebrating the Fall Feasts of Israel together and praying for the salvation of all Israel keeping mind what the Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph 674 states,  "The glorious Messiah's coming is suspended at every moment of history until his recognition by all Israel for a hardening has come upon part of Israel in their unbelief toward Jesus."

Shalom in Yeshua.  Miriam Mystical Rose please pray for us,
Gershon ben Sha'ul