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


  1. Accursed no. But the first shall be last means a lot. Christ condemned Israel to wait until all other nations receive the Gospel. This is a punishment for the rejection to the jewish call - that all jews had to accept Christ and spread the gospel.

  2. "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"."

    I mean seriously.. do you think that most Jews reject Christ because of the "hatred" they get from Christians? This is simply absurd.

    Jewish Rabbis teach that the Messiah is very different than Christ: a earthly king, a mighty person. Power and might is what they are after, not God. This is a huge sin, because they want God and Christ to conform to the world and to their desires. But Christ is not of the world.

    This is a huge sin. As it is thinking that we have the"divine spark" according to Kabbalah, as it is thinking that God is also evil and not all good, because of His Justice - as I heard from a rabbi once. The rabbis who teach these blasphemies are in sin and their followers are , unfortunately, too.

    I have once heard a orthodox rabbi saying extreme blasphemies about Christ - things that one would not say against anyone, not even against Hitler (I cannot repeat them here because they are too blasphemous). There is no excuse.

    Recall in the Gospel the episode when Christ goes to a synagogue and when He mentions that He has cured someone who was non-Jewish, the people tell Him "why didn't you cure a Jewish women" and then kicked Him out? This is the most important Jewish mistake: to think that Jews are superior to others. In Christianity, this does not exist. All Christians are children of God.

    Even your idea that God somehow needs the Jews to come back is a form of jewish pride that you absolutely need to get rid of in order to be a good Catholic. God does not depend on jews. The Jewish people are the ones who depend on God. Jews cannot read their own Scriptures and are trapped in error because the Lord is not enlightening them.

    This is in itself a punishment for their pride and for their sin. Jews mock and insult Christ all the time and for this they are guilty. I am sorry to say it but it i true. Each individual is guilty when he/she laughs at Jesus, calls the Virgin a pagan goddess etc. They are not guilty of Christ's death, but of denying him and mocking him today. And if you are true to yourself, your faith and Him, you should acknowledge all this.

    This is the negative theology that the Catholic Church for centuries has proclaimed. And this is the reason why the Church has called the Jews "faithless". They are faithless. None denies that God loves Jews, that Jewish people are special to God's heart. But the rejection of Christ - not of Christians and Christianity, of Him - exists today.

  3. Agatha, thank you for your comments. You seem to have quite a bit of animosity toward Jews in your reply. Keep in mind that there have always been Jews who accept Jesus as the Jewish Messiah now than at any other time in history since the first century. Unfortunately most of them are not in the one true Church but part of Messianic Judaism or in Protestant Churches. Why is this? One reason is we are not evangelizing Jews in the same way and the other is that too many Jews have to overcome attitudes that are not exactly loving and Christlike that still exist in the Church.

    How about we give some credit to the small band of Jews who took the Gospel to the Jew first and also the Nations! They were open to the Holy Spirit and did not hold back this Good News to you and your ancestors. How about a hearty thank you instead of animosity? I think we can all agree they did a magnificent job. We still have more to do!

    I certainly cannot speak for all Jews but being Jewish myself and living amongst my Jewish family and friends I can tell you that in my experience many Jews continue to hold Christians responsible for the hatred that they experienced over the centuries much like in the same way you still hold animosity toward those who reject him. And while we can debate that this was not the "Church" proper but individuals, we must admit if we take an honest look at history that there is enough evidence to support some of this way of thinking.

    My dear sister, Jews do not mock Christ anymore than non Jews and even some so called Catholics and Christians. We are all capable of mocking God, this is called sin. When those who claim to belong to Christ mock God is this not a worse scenario? How do we treat those who mock and misunderstand? We pray for their souls and with love and respect share the truth. God takes care of the rest.

    In CCC 674, the Church teaches that the glorious Messiah's coming is suspended at every moment of history until his recognition by "all Israel". So we must ask ourselves who call us ourselves Christians, have I done all I can do to welcome the prodigal son back home? If not then we must repent and do otherwise. We have much work to do to prepare our own hearts and our Church to welcome back our Jewish brothers and sisters. This my sister is the plan of salvation for the not only Jewish people but will mean the life from dead. Rom 11

    Keep in mind that Christ is working in the hearts of many people both Jew and Gentile. 2000 years ago the first Hebrew Catholics welcomed the Gentiles into the Church without trying to make them into Jews. Now it is time for predominantly gentile Church to welcome Jews back into the Church without making them become gentiles.

    I wish you all of God's blessings in your journey of faith.

    Gershon ben Shaul

  4. Agatha, one more reason many Jews stay away from the Messiah and do not believe is the fear that somehow by believing in Jesus as the Jewish Messiah they will be abandoning the Jewish people and their families. This is perpetuated by the teachings of current Jewish teaching and Jewish families. AND it is also perpetuated by the Church. Up until the last 50 years it has been nearly impossible for Jews to enter the Church and maintain any of their Jewish identity for fear that they would be called Judaizers. (It is strange that all other ethnic groups can maintain their culture, i.e.: Italian, Polish, African, etc.)but the Church encouraged Jews not to keep any of their cultural heritage. This is the heritage of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. This is now coming to an end. The Church since Vat II and many Catholic individuals have done a much better job with encouraging Jews to maintain their Jewish identities without totally assimilating as gentiles into the Church.

    The work of the Association of Hebrew Catholics in part exists to be a place for those of Jewish/Hebrew descent to come and be nourished with the Jewishness of the Catholic Church and Christianity. As the Church allows and encourages this I believe there will be more Jews and Messianic Jews who will come and join us.

    Love and Mercy toward our Jewish brothers and sisters is the key, not animosity.

    Let us pray for the Peace of Jersusalem and the conversion of the Jewish of the Jewish people. For not one of us Jew or Gentile has any peace here in the here after without him.

    God Bless,
    Gershon ben Shaul