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, July 19, 2010

Salvation Is From the Jews

As a child, growing up in a New York suburb, Jews were a part of my life. Not only did we have many Jewish neighbors and family friends, but my father was for many years the only Christian on the operating board of Gimbel Brothers in New York City. Sometimes I half-jokingly claim that our home was a strange haven where Jews could be Jews in the presence of Catholics. In 1951 mom and dad even took my older brother and me to Dachau where we spent several hours walking through that ghostly camp so we would better understand the nature of that Holocaust. It all stemmed from my dad's tremendous respect for the Jewish people, especially those of faith. And I suspect he would have agreed wholeheartedly with Pope John Paul II when the Holy Father called Jews our "elder brothers" in faith.

This is why it saddens me when, every so often, I detect subtle, and sometimes, not so subtle, traces of Antisemitism among Christians. Fortunately I encounter it only occasionally, but even that is too much for me. To hate Judaism is to hate the very roots of Christianity. To despise the Jew is to despise Jesus who came to us as a Jew. The Father lovingly chose and prepared the Jewish people to receive His gift of the Incarnation, and His Son chose 12 Jews to take that gift, to unwrap it, and to hand it to an undeserving world. "Salvation is from the Jews," Jesus told the Samaritan woman, a message as true today as it was 2,000 years ago.

If you would like to understand better the very real relationship between Judaism and Christianity, then let me suggest a wonderful book written by Roy Schoeman, a man who made a remarkable journey from Judaism, to atheism, to Catholicism. I can guarantee that the book, Salvation Is from the Jews, will enlighten you.

Schoeman has also written a second book, Honey from the Rock, in which he describes the faith journeys of 16 Jews who have come to the Catholic Church. Both books are published by Ignatius Press. The author can also be seen on video interviews (available online) in which he discusses each chapter of the first book. You can access the interviews here: 14-Part TV Series. I recommend reading both of the books and watching the videos. You'll be a better and wiser Christian because of it.

God's peace...

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