Christians and Jews in God’s Plan
In our first reading at Mass today, St. Paul shows clearly that he never saw himself as having given up being a Jew to be a Christian. Similarly, to be a good Christian today, you really have to understand our Jewish history. As Pope Pius XII once said, “Spiritually, we are all Semites.” In our Catholic liturgy, we continue pray for and revere our Jewish brothers and sisters as “the first to hear the word of God.” Jesus came to fulfill all the the law and prophets foretold, but God did not begin some radical new story with Jesus. Jesus come right in the middle of a story that God had been writing for a very long time. The New Testament is not so much a new story as the next chapter in a very old story.
In light of this, Christians should do all we can first to learn the story of the Hebrew Scriptures, the Old Testament. Secondly, we should could continue to have great respect for the Jewish people. Sometimes, people wrongly try to blame “Jews” for killing Jesus. This is ridiculous. Not all Jews at the time of Jesus and certainly none of the Jews living today had anything to do with the death of Jesus. Jesus was killed because of our sins. There is no place for anti-Semitism among Christians.
Finally, in our modern world, it is important that we keep separate the religious notion of God’s chosen people Israel and the man-made political state of Israel. Too often, Christians are guilty of supporting the state of Israel in anything it does, no matter how unjust, in a false notion that somehow these are “God’s chosen people.” If it helps, consider that 75% of the “Jews” living in Israel don’t even believe in God yet alone practice their faith; they call themselves “secular Jews.” Then remember that all of the Christians in the Holy Land are Palestinians! While the United States might have good reason to support Israel politically, the religious reasons are far less solid.
St. Paul struggles to maintain both his Jewish and Christian identity. As Christians, we could do well to get in touch with our roots and realize our own Jewishness.