Thursday, February 17, 2011

Benedict XVI, the Jews and Salvation

On Jewish-Christians relations, Benedict says "A change also seemed necessary to me in the ancient liturgy. In fact, the formula was such as to truly wound the Jews, and it certainly did not express in a positive way the great, profound unity between Old and New Testament. For this reason, I thought that a modification was necessary in the ancient liturgy, in particular in reference to our relationship with our Jewish friends. I modified it in such a way that it contained our faith, that Christ is salvation for all. That there do not exist two ways of salvation, and that therefore Christ is also the savior of the Jews, and not only of the pagans. But also in such a way that one did not pray directly for (or uniquely target--SH) the conversion of the Jews in a missionary sense, but that the Lord might hasten the historic hour in which we will all be united. For this reason, the arguments used polemically against me by a series of theologians are rash, and do not do justice to what was done. (book-length interview of Benedict XVI, "Light of the World, emphasis mine")

Note: Surely Benedict is correct in this. How could it even be possible that "all" Jews either at the time of the crucifixion of Christ or today are guilty of that crucifixion? It is obviously not possible. All who consciously oppose themselves to Christ's call to repentance and forgiveness, whether Jew or gentile, are culpable for "crucifying Christ anew" by attachment to a life of opposition to God.

We all have reason to avoid presumption. The author of the book of Hebrews writes of any and all apostates, i.e., those of us who "Have ... tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come...[and] are fallen away...crucifying again to themselves the Son of God, and making him a mockery" ---Heb. 6:6

These, clearly, cannot plead ignorance, because they "tasted the good word of God" in Christ and have yet turned back from it. But it is a truth of the Catholic faith that any who are genuinely "invincibly ignorant" of the call to reconciliation with God in Christ do not fall under this divine indictment (1). On the other hand, if any of us know and resist the grace of our Creator, and persist in opposing the Good, whether Jew or gentile, we are guilty of "crucifying again to themselves the Son of God".

The Lord from the very Cross pronounced the word of forgiveness against those who crucified Him: "Father forgive them. They know not what they do," He prayed (Luke 23:34). Only those who persist in vicious, knowing, opposition to the Call and Word of Christ are culpable. It is another truth of the Catholic Faith that "God does not command the impossible". Just as many Protestants raised in Protestantism with their mother's milk, do not fully know that Christ established only "one" Faith just as there is only one Lord ... one baptism; one God and Father of all" (Eph 4:1-6), so too is it with many Jews. Not "all" Protestants, Jews, or Muslims, or any other, set themselves in persistent, conscious, and vicious opposition to the word of Christ and His commandments, and so enlightening grace follows them, calling and showing through all the days of their lives, just as it is with each and every one of us.

But there remain vicious opposers

But just as the temple leadership and the mobs in 33 AD sought of the secular power the unjust and world-shaking Crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth, so today there are both Jews and gentiles who continue to do the same. They set their faces against their Creator. And while it is true that God rewards even the wicked in this life when they do well (click), if they do not allow grace to soften their hearts, they will have to account for their choices, just as we all will have to do so.

Those media moguls, Jew or Gentile, who make an unjust living destroying morals and common decency, who have plotted against and wrecked (for the time being) whole Christian nations, especially (but hardly only) the young, will have to answer for it to their Maker, which God forbid.

Jesus of Nazareth came as the Suffering Servant of Israel (click). How He loves the people who were once the people of God's covenant. And how they should love and respond to Him, as we all should embrace that love, forgiveness, the moral teachingsand sacraments of our Maker. How wonderful that every year Jews from around the world to this day "receive Him" and are to this day received into His Ecclesia by the grace of the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob. (Jn. 1:14)


(1) "There are, of course, those who are struggling with invincible ignorance about our most holy religion. Sincerely observing the natural law and its precepts inscribed by God on all hearts and ready to obey God, they live honest lives and are able to attain eternal life by the efficacious virtue of divine light and grace. Because God knows, searches and clearly understands the minds, hearts, thoughts, and nature of all, his supreme kindness and clemency do not permit anyone at all who is not guilty of deliberate sin to suffer eternal punishments"---Pius XI,QUANTO CONFICIAMUR MOERORE, 1863

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