Catholics worldwide should really celebrate our common heritages of faith with the Jewish people. Our pre-Vatican II liturgy might have had some anti-Semitic rhetoric for the celebration of Good Friday, and there was also misplaced blame against the Children of Israel for the death of Christ. However in the forty plus years since the close of the Second Vatican Council Catholics have universally developed a new and revealed understanding of our ancient relationship with the Jewish faith. We have come to realize in our liturgical celebrations and in our prayers our common ancestry with the God of Abraham, the biblical development of the Old Testament and the essential relationship the Old Covenant offers in light of the New Covenant of Christ. Now it is time in our modern society not to keep visiting the old texts that were used in the Liturgy prior to the ecumenical council, but concentrate on the successful theological appreciation Catholicism and Judaism have developed over the last four decades.

Our ancient Roman liturgy itself has evolved from the celebration of the Word of God in the Jewish synagogue services. Jesus Christ was a faithful Jew and lived His life in observation of the Jewish Torah. Our Eucharistic celebration of bread and wine is rooted in the ancient observation of Passover and some of our rituals are rooted in the traditions of the priestly tribe of Israel. We are not anti-Semites in the Catholic Church, but rather cousins to the Jewish liturgical life and traditions that influenced not only Jesus Christ, but the early Church as an offshoot sect of Judaism in the early Christian era. The perceived attack by Jewish faithful believers is wrongly motivated by a secular attempt to reignite a dispute among Catholics and Jews that has been extinguished long ago.

The 20th century offered an opportunity for Catholics and Jewish faithful believers to celebrate their common heritage and forgive each other of old transgressions. The Catholic Church in its activities during the Second World War abhorred the deportation and execution of European Jews by the Nazi regime, and strongly worked in many manners to save countless lives during the Holocaust.  Historical records are daily revealing actions by Pius XII and the Catholic Church that attempted to give shelter provide food and safety and even baptismal certificates to persecuted Jewish refugees. Subsequent Popes, John XXIII had derogatory references to the Jewish people struck from our Sacred Liturgies, Paul VI went to the Holy Land as a pilgrim and John Paul II prayed at the Great Wall of the Temple in Jerusalem. Benedict XVI has also led the movement towards a conscious and prayerful appreciation of our, “Jewish” roots in Catholicism and is reportedly rewriting the offensive reintroduced prayer from Holy Week.

As Catholics, we need to strongly affirm and defend the Catholic Church’s continued effort towards theological harmony with our Jewish cousins and speak out against any anti-Semitic rhetoric that might be implied towards our relationship by antagonistic members of various media outlets. The light of revelation, through the Word of God has clearly and visibly shown us that our Catholic relationship with the Jewish faithful is one that has been nurtured and treasured in recent memory. Let’s join together as believers in the monotheistic God, Yahweh to contemplate the things that unite us in faith rather than open healed wounds of things that once set each faith against each other. The Catholic people and the Jewish faithful are both rightful heirs to the title People of God.

Hugh McNichol is a freelance Catholicauthor that writes on Catholic issues and topics. His daily blog: http://verbumcarofactumest.blogspot.com frequently writes on matters that happen in the Catholic world both secular and religious.He can be reached at hugh.mcnichol@trinettc.com

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