The occasional, often ill-considered thoughts of a Roman Catholic permanent deacon who is ever grateful to God for his existence. Despite the strangeness we encounter in this life, all the suffering we witness and endure, being is good, so good I am sometimes unable to contain my joy. Deo gratias!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Bishops, Jews and Evangelization

Our bishops have come out with a clarification of their teaching on our religious relationship with the Jewish people. (See the US Bishops' website.) In effect they state we shouldn't proselytize but should not fail to witness our faith and welcome Jews to join us as Catholic Christians. I'm not really all that sure what they mean by that. How does one witness and welcome without proselytizing?

Actually, though, this revision to their earlier (2002) document presents us with a clearer approach to the unique aspects of evangelization among the Jewish people. It emphasizes the Church's teaching that the covenant with the Jewish people is fulfilled only in Jesus Christ. In that sense it asks us to recall that the Church began with St. Peter converting 3,000 Jews on that first Pentecost. Indeed, the early Church always focused first on converting Jews. After all, St. Paul always went first to the local synagogue before he preached to the Gentiles.
St. Peter preaching in Jerusalem on the first Pentecost

How can we claim to possess the Truth who is Jesus Christ -- "I am the way, the truth, and the life" -- and yet be unwilling to share that Truth with all people? And did not Jesus command his disciples to "Make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you."? I would think that "all nations" would also include the Jews.

Personally, I will continue to talk about Jesus, the Messiah, with my Jewish friends.

Click here to read the bishops' complete document.


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