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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Why did Pope John Paul II call Jews our "elder brothers and sisters in the faith"?

“Love the Lord with all your heart, and with all your soul,

and with all your MIND”--Matt 22:37

"You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.--John 4:22
Question:  Why did Pope John Paul II call Jews our "elder brothers and sisters in the faith"?
This is one of my favorite phrases attributed to Pope JPII, as it clearly speaks of unity between the great monotheistic religions (Christianity, Judaism, Islam).  We all have the same roots--one God--and Abraham is considered the forefather Christians, Jews and Muslims.  God chose Abraham to reveal the name of God to all the nations, and our Jewish brethren were, as we proclaim on Good Friday Liturgy, "the first to hear the word of God."

Thus, it is true and wonderful that we can call all Jews our elder brethren in the faith.  As Jewish convert (via evangelical Christianity initially with strong anti-Catholic sentiments) Sr. Rosalind Moss says, "The most Jewish thing a person can do is to become Catholic. 
When I was trying to save my brother from becoming Catholic, I went to Christmas Mass with him. Afterwards, I told him, ‘That’s a synagogue, but with Christ!'"

I have not had the privilege of attending any Jewish services, but it is my understanding that I would recognize much of Jewish liturgical language. The Amidah is recited:   "Blessed are you, Lord God of creation" and "
'Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!" and "We give thanks to you that you are the Lord our God and the God of our fathers forever and ever."   Sounds like we could be at a Catholic Mass, eh?
Not only are there similarities in liturgical language/prayers, but the
"priest’s vestments at Mass have ancient origins. His outer garment, the chasuble, a large cone-shaped cloth with a hole for the head, was often worn in Palestine during the Creek and Roman occupations. Its beauty and adornments go all the way back to Aaron. God had told Moses, “You shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother, for glory and for beauty. These are the garments which they shall make: a breastpiece, an ephod, a robe, a coat of checker work, a turban, and a girdle; they shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother and his sons to serve Me as priests. They shall receive gold, blue and purple and scarlet stuff, and fine twined linen” (Ex 28:2, 4). “Of the blue and purple and scarlet stuff they made finely wrought garments, for ministering in the holy place; they made the holy garments for Aaron, as the Lord had commanded Moses” (Ex 39:1).

Every Catholic church has a tabernacle, where lives the Word Made Flesh. In the synagogues, the tabernacle holds the Word of God in ancient Torah scrolls. Beside the Catholic tabernacle, and beside the synagogue tabernacle, is a candle. Both go back to the time of Moses. “The glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. For throughout all their journeys the cloud of the Lord was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was in it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel” (Ex 40:35). Today we still see that fire, now a steady candle, and know that Jesus Christ is truly present.
That blood-red tabernacle candle, reminding us that Jesus who died to redeem us is present, reminds Jews as well of the yahrzeit or memorial candles they light each year to remember the departed."

See this photo below of a Jewish tabernacle which holds the scrolls of the Torah inside a synagogue.  Looks like it could be a Catholic tabernacle, doesn't it? As with the Catholic tabernacle, the Jewish tabernacle is the holiest place in the synagogue. 

Incidentally, Pentecost, which we celebrate this weekend, not surprisingly has Jewish roots.  When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together.--Acts 2:1. The Jewish feast of Shavuot was observed 7 weeks (or 50 days) after the Passover in which people celebrated the harvest.  Christian Pentecost also celebrates the "harvest"--the "harvest of souls" by the Holy Spirit.

For more in-depth study visit these websites:
Salvation is from the Jews

"Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect" - 1 Peter 3:15

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