EG 247-249: Relations With Judaism

Vasnetsov_Maria_MagdaleneThree brief sections in Evangelii Gaudium examine the Christian approach to Judaism. Note that Pope Francis does not discuss “Catholic” issues, but ones that touch upon the larger body of Christian believers. Let’s read:

247. We hold the Jewish people in special regard because their covenant with God has never been revoked, for “the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable” (Rom 11:29). The Church, which shares with Jews an important part of the sacred Scriptures, looks upon the people of the covenant and their faith as one of the sacred roots of her own Christian identity (cf. Rom 11:16-18). As Christians, we cannot consider Judaism as a foreign religion; nor do we include the Jews among those called to turn from idols and to serve the true God (cf. 1 Thes 1:9). With them, we believe in the one God who acts in history, and with them we accept his revealed word.

EG 247 merely affirms what we read in Scripture. It is illustrative that the Holy Father turns to one of Saint Paul’s most passionate writings–chapters 9 through 11 constitute a personal reverence for the tradition that formed him and an anguish that so many of that tradition did not join him in embracing Jesus Christ.

Speaking of recent developments, not just the historical reality:

248. Dialogue and friendship with the children of Israel are part of the life of Jesus’ disciples. The friendship which has grown between us makes us bitterly and sincerely regret the terrible persecutions which they have endured, and continue to endure, especially those that have involved Christians.

Christians and Jews share an “encounter” with God through a large portion of the Bible. When one considers liturgy, by far the bulk of prayer material in the Hours comes from this source.

249. God continues to work among the people of the Old Covenant and to bring forth treasures of wisdom which flow from their encounter with his word. For this reason, the Church also is enriched when she receives the values of Judaism. While it is true that certain Christian beliefs are unacceptable to Judaism, and that the Church cannot refrain from proclaiming Jesus as Lord and Messiah, there exists as well a rich complementarity which allows us to read the texts of the Hebrew Scriptures together and to help one another to mine the riches of God’s word. We can also share many ethical convictions and a common concern for justice and the development of peoples.

So the questions for us, especially the skeptics among believers: Can we acknowledge God continues to work through Judaism? Can we explore not just the commonality of what we call the Old Testament, but also the complementariness of our common witness to the One God? Can we look to ethics and morality as a common ground?

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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