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James Ritson wrote:

Hi, guys —

  • Why does the pope encourage Jews to continue practicing Judaism which denies Jesus as Messiah?

I have yet to receive an answer.

Cordially,

James

  { Why does the pope encourage Jews to continue practicing Judaism which denies Jesus as Messiah? }

Mike replied:

Hi Jim,

This is not one of those won't answer questions.

You said:

  • Why does the pope encourage Jews to continue practicing Judaism which denies Jesus as Messiah?

First, there are many Jews who not deny Jesus as their Messiah.

They are Hebrew Catholics who have discovered the fullness of Judaism in the Catholic Church. To be fully a faithful Catholic is to be a fully a faithful Jew. If you are interested, check out David Moss's web site:

From their About Us page:

The Association of Hebrew Catholics is working to preserve the identity and heritage of Catholics of Jewish origin within the Church, to enable them to serve the Lord and all people within the mystery of their irrevocable calling. [Witnesses]

In John's previous reply to your question:

He said:
The Old Covenant is a preparation for the New Covenant so as Jews continue to follow the Old Covenant, they continue to be prepared for the New One.

That said, the Jewish people are no different than any of our non-Catholic Christian or non-Christian brothers by birth.

As faithful Catholics we are called by the Lord to spread the fullness of the Gospel to the Jewish people and I am sure Pope Francis would be the first to agree with this.

In my opinion, the key issue toward good Jewish-Catholic ecumenical dialogues is being able to aptly show how the Catholic faith is the fullness of Judaism. In my opinion, this is where David's work at the Association of Hebrew Catholic can be very helpful.

I would welcome his reply to any of our questions that touch on issues related to Judaism.

Mike

John replied:

James —

The Catholic Church takes the approach of praising and recognizing what is good and true in other religions as the basis of a dialogue. This is the approach St. Paul took in Acts Chapter 17, when he met with Epicurean Stoics on Mars Hill. (Acts 17:16-34) Paul, pointed out that they were so religious, that had a statue to the unknown God. Then he went on to say, it is this unknown God, I'm going to talk to you about. So Paul found an opening to bring these philosophers — the Gospel.

Judaism as whole, doesn't specifically deny Christ as an article of faith. Rather they just don't recognize Him as The Messiah, God in the Flesh. That might seem a like small distinction but it is an important one.

As Catholics, we certainly encourage Jews to continue to read their Scriptures and even study their traditions because their Scriptures and many of their traditions point to Jesus Christ. Most Jewish converts to Christianity, become converts because they begin to really read their scriptures.

So it's really common sense for the Pope to encourage them to do so. Jews are really our older brothers and sisters in the faith of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

It's really important to affirm them first as a preparation for the Gospel. If they read and study the Old Testament with an open heart to better know God, the Holy Spirit, it will lead them to the Christ.

I hope this helps,

John

David Moss from the Association of Hebrew Catholics (AHC) replied:

Hi Mike,

Thanks for your gracious invitation to participate. I am glad to receive these e-mails and will chime in if I think I can add anything of value. Your response and the subsequent response by John DiMascio were both very good.

Regarding the work of the AHC, I believe our founder was led by God to establish a means of evangelization that would not conflict with the overall program of the Church. As you know, the Church does not target the Jewish people. or any people, for evangelization. Rather, she preaches the Gospel to everyone. While you or I may speak to a Jew, a Protestant, a Moslem, etc., about the faith, the Church has no mission directed at specific groups of people. For that reason, individual ministries write books about and direct their efforts to address the obstacles that specific groups face.

Besides preaching the Gospel to all peoples, the Church's program, with respect to specific groups, is one of dialogue. Of course, many in the dialogue steer away from any impression that they are trying to evangelize the people that they are dialoguing with. This is particularly the case with the Jewish people because of the history that exists between the members of the Church and the Jewish people. If the those involved in the dialogue sensed that they were being evangelized, they would simply get up and walk away. Thus, it leaves open the real and, at times, actual reality, that members of the Church back away from sharing the Gospel and the truths of the Messiah with the Jewish people.

In launching the AHC, our founder. Elias Friedman OCD, believed that our existence would serve as an evangelization of presence. We would witness to the faith as Jews who had discovered the Messiah and His Church. By including Jewish traditions, but now celebrating them in the light of Christ, we would show that entrance into the Church did not mean the assimilation and destruction of the Jewish people.

Fr. Friedman further believed that when the Church was once again able to support the existence of the Jewish people within the Church, as a people which retains its election, the sacraments and especially the Eucharist would draw both Rabbinic Jews and Messianic Jews into the Church.

We already see this beginning to happen and we are only in the early stages of our mission.

Wishing you every blessing in your work, In Christ

David
from the Association of Hebrew Catholics

David Moss from the AHC followed up:

Hi, Mike —

In accord with the e-mail that I just responded to, I would add only one brief note.

You said:
That said, the Jewish people are no different than any of our non-Catholic Christian or non-Christian brothers by birth.

There is a difference, however, and that is that the Jewish people retain the election.

Romans 9:11; Romans 11:5; Romans 11:28 speaks to that issue. The election means that the People Israel (aka the Jewish people) continue to be a servant people, a people whom God has used and will continue to use in the ongoing drama of salvation history.

That, of course, does not mean that Jews shouldn't be evangelized yet while individual Jews continue to come to faith, the bulk will enter the Church in accord with God's Plans.

Witness, for instance, CCC 674:

The glorious Messiah's coming is suspended at every moment of history until his recognition by all Israel . . .

The point here is that there must be a People Israel who recognizes and embraces the Messiah in order for the Messiah to return.

Wishing you every blessing in your work, In Christ

David
from the Association of Hebrew Catholics

John replied:

Hi David,

  • Are you by any chance Rosalind Moss's brother or somehow related to her?

With respect to your point about Israel's Election as discussed by Paul in Romans 9 through 11, of course we recognize Israel's special role in God's plan of salvation and, as Paul writes specifically referring to Israel, the gifts and callings of God are irrevocable. (Romans 11:29)

Paul also writes in Romans 3:1-2 that Israel was privileged to be the keepers of God's Oracles so, yes, Israel holds a unique place among the nations but the situation is bit more complex.

On the one hand, Israel is Israel but the Church is also Israel, not as replacement, but Paul wrote, if you are in Christ, you're Abraham's seed by faith. (Galatians 3:5-9; Galatians 3: 26-29) so, yes, as we acknowledge what the Catechism says, we also recognize that all salvation comes in, and through, the person of Jesus Christ. That does not mean every person:

  • will be saved, or
  • will necessarily understand or accept Him in this life.

In addition, we have to be careful not to put too much emphasis on blood lines.

All those who are, by blood, Jews or descendants of the other eleven tribes are not in the same boat, just as every person baptized isn't in the same boat. It is about an inward conversion that manifests itself in the way we live our lives, starting with whether or not we acknowledge and worship God.

So each man will be judged on his own life. I'm not telling you anything you don't know but being marked as being In Covenant, doesn't necessarily mean you're in it or observing it.

So yes, there is necessity to evangelize everyone including believers, meaning ourselves. We are all called to a close relationship with the Lord thus we must share Christ with one another as well as helping to lead one another into a closer relationship with Him.

Warmly,

John

David Moss from the AHC replied:

Hi John,

Yes. I am the brother of Rosalind, now Mother Miriam of the Lamb of God.

I agree with you that the situation is a bit more complex. I also agree that everyone must be evangelized. The question is:

  • How?

Our founder, Elias Friedman OCD, launched the AHC to help eliminate the obstacles that stand in the way for most Jews to even hear the Gospel. I sent Mike a brief explanation of our work.

Perhaps he will share it with you.

In Christ,

David
[Related posting]

John replied:

David,

I know I speak on behalf of the group, we are honored to have you contact us. I've seen Mother Miriam several times on EWTN. She spoke of you as well.

I'd be very interested in reading or viewing anything on your ministry and your approach to evangelizing the Jewish people. Often times, it takes a convert to help build that bridge.

I'm actually revert to the faith. I came back in 1996 and soon found this great bunch of guys on this list who were doing apologetics and was thrilled that they embraced me in the group.

As former Protestant minister, my area of contribution is sharing the full Gospel with our Protestant brothers. Having been in that camp, I understand their language, paradigms, and suppositions so I'm able to translate Catholic concepts in more Evangelical paradigms. By God's grace, it's proven to be fairly successful.

My conversion or reversion story will actually run next month in the Coming Home Network Newsletter. I won't spoil it but I'll give you a tease. The Lord delivered me from 10 years of cocaine addiction when an Evangelical friend brought me the Gospel as he understood it.

I wound up in a Bible school and was later licensed as minister. I'm sure you can figure out the rest. I read the Bible very carefully as grew in the faith. Read the Church Fathers and wound up coming home so if you get the newsletter, keep an eye out for it. It has some poignant and humorous anecdotes. I can only give praise, thanks, and glory to God. If it weren't for His Grace, I'd be dead or in jail . . . certainly deserve both! but God, who is rich in Mercy had other plans.

I'm going to take the liberty of asking you if we can contact you on occasion if we have a question from Jewish seeker or even an Evangelical convert from Judaism, interested in the Catholic Church. Your insight would be tremendous.

To be honest, I may have questions myself. A couple off the bat:

When I was in Bible school I took a course based on that book. Marv Wilson actually came in taught some of the sessions. The Bible School I attended was a ministry of a Church that was very much into the Jewish roots of Christianity. They went so far as celebrate some of the feasts, like Tabernacles. They even had a Shofar they would blow from time to at the beginning of Church services so I have a deep respect for the traditions and I'd like to learn more.

Please stay in touch.

Warmly — Under His Mercy,

John DiMascio

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