December 11, 2015

Dec. 11

December 11, 2015:  Friday, 2nd Week of Advent

  • People tie pin:  Your descendants will be as the sand (1st reading); children in the marketplace (gospel)
  • '[Christmas] lights' tie, white shirt:  light of life (psalm)
  • 'Tree,' 'apple,' and 'leaf' pins:  One who meditates on God's law is like a tree bearing fruit whose leaves never fade (psalm)
  • 'Eyeball' pin:  The Lord watches over the way of the just (psalm)
  • 'Musical note' pin:  We played the flute and you didn't dance (gospel)
  • 'Owl' pin:  Wisdom is vindicated by her works (gospel)
  • Purple shirt and suspenders:  Advent season

The Gifts and Calling of God are Irrevocable:On theological questions about Catholic-Jewish relations, continued from yesterday
The special theological status of Jewish-Catholic dialogue
Our dialogue with Judaism is special, since Christianity has Jewish roots.  Judaism isn't just another religion; the Jews are our “elder brothers,” our “fathers in faith.”  Jesus was a Jew, steeped in Jewish tradition of his time, shaped by the religious milieu.  His first disciples were defined by the same Jewish tradition.  He proclaimed the coming of God's Kingdom.  Within Judaism there were different ideas about how the Kingdom would be realized, but Jesus’ message is in accordance with some Jewish thinking.  You can't understand his teaching without the context of the tradition of Israel.  Jesus stands in continuity with his people and its history, but he's God the Son and transcends earthly realities.  He perfectly fulfills the mission and expectation of Israel but also overcomes and transcends them.  The fundamental difference between Judaism and Christianity is how Jesus is to be evaluated.  Jews see him as belonging to their people, a Jewish teacher who felt called to preach the Kingdom.  That this Kingdom of God has come with himself as God’s representative is beyond the horizon of Jewish expectation.  The conflict between Jesus and the Jewish authorities was of his claim to divine authority.  Jesus remains the central and neuralgic point in Jewish-Catholic dialogue. Christians need to refer to Judaism for their own self-understanding.
Jewish/Christian dialogue is ‘interreligious’ because it's between two separate religions, though they've influenced each other.  Post-biblical Judaism had to depend on prayer and interpretation of both written and oral divine revelation.  Jews and Christians are siblings who have developed in different directions.  Both see the Hebrew Scriptures as God's word and revelation, integral to salvation history. The first Christians were Jews who met in Synagogue, observed dietary laws, the Sabbath, and circumcision, while also confessing Jesus as Messiah.  Paul expanded the horizons; eventually you didn't have to become a Jew to confess Christ, so the early Church had  Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians.  The Church/Synagogue separation wasn't abrupt, though; it may not have been complete till the 4th century; so many Jewish Christians didn't see any contradiction between keeping Jewish tradition and confessing Jesus as Christ.  When Gentile Christians became the majority, and in the Jewish community the polemics regarding Jesus became sharper, the siblings Christianity and Judaism grew apart, becoming hostile to each other.  Christians saws Jews as damned and blind since they didn't recognize Jesus as Messiah and savior; Jews saw Christians as heretics who didn't follow the path God laid down.  Judaism and Christianity became alienated from one another, involved in conflicts, and accusing each other of abandoning God's path.
The "replacement theory" or supersessionism gained favor till it became the standard theological foundation of Christianity's relationship with Judaism:  God's promises no longer applied to Israel because it hadn't recognized Jesus as Messiah and Son of God; they now applied to the Church of Christ, the ‘new Israel,’ God's new chosen people.  Judaism and Christianity became involved in an antagonism which not defused till Vatican II's Nostra aetate #4 in which the Church professed Christianity's Jewish roots.  While affirming salvation through faith in Christ, the Church doesn't question God's continued love for Israel, depriving "replacement theology" of its foundations.  From an originally close relationship between Judaism and Christianity, tension developed, but it's been transformed into a relationship of constructive dialogue.  There have been attempts to identify replacement theory in Hebrews, but that letter was directed to uncertain Christians of Jewish background, not Jews, to strengthen their faith by  pointing to Christ as high priest, mediator of the new covenant.  The first covenant is defined as outdated and in decline, while the second is defined as everlasting.  Hebrews refers to promise of a new covenant in Jeremiah; this demonstrates Hebrews treats Old Covenant promises as valid and doesn't intend to disprove them.  It refers to them to help Christians be sure of their salvation in Christ.  Its issue isn't contrasting the Old and New Covenants or Christianity and Judaism but rather the priesthood of Christ and earthly priesthood; hence Nostra aetate #4 referred instead to Romans 9-11.
Dialogue with Judaism is different from and on a different level with the other world religions.  Christians see Judaism as the foundation of their own faith, though they interpret the Old Testament in the key of Jesus.  Christianity is connected with Judaism like no other religion; it's "not ‘extrinsic’ to us but in a certain way is ‘intrinsic’ to our religion.  We have a relationship with Judaism that we don't with any other religion.... [to be continued]
  • Is 48:17-19  I teach and lead you for your good.  Hearken to my commandments; receive prosperity, vindication, and descendants.
  • Ps 1:1-4, 6  "Those who follow you, Lord, will have the light of life."  Those who delight in God's law are like trees yielding fruit; they prosper.
"You didn't dance to the flute..."
  • Mt 11:16-19  This generation is like children who didn't dance to the flute or mourn to a dirge, rejecting John the Baptist and the Son of Man.  But wisdom's works vindicate her.
  • Creighton:  “I, the Lord, teach and lead you....”  The first reading asks us to listen so God can teach us and lead us on the way we should go. We need to make a conscious effort to observe Advent....
  • One Bread, One Body:  "The star of obedience":  Christmas and life are matters of obedience.  If we obey the Lord's commands, we'll be vindicated and blessed; we need to repent of being rebellious and self-willed.  God gave his commands to Mary and Joseph through his angel and the government; he commanded the wise men through a star and Scripture; he commanded the shepherds through an angel choir.  Those who obeyed were present at the first Christmas, though many innkeepers had no room for the Messiah.  True Christmas, a personal encounter with Christ, is for those who believe in the Lord enough to obey him.  May we follow the star of obedience to the manger and Christ.
  • Passionist:  “We played the flute for you, but you didn't dance.  We sang a dirge for you but you didn't mourn.”  There was just no pleasing these kids.  John the Baptist lived in the wilderness, wore camel hair, ate grasshoppers, and called everyone to repentance; some thought he was possessed.  Jesus, however, ate and drank; it's how he entered into fellowship with people.  But he was accused of being a glutton and a drunkard....  In both cases people labeled and judged; there was no pleasing them.  But Jesus did God's work:  restoring sight, healing, freeing...  We await the Messiah's Second Coming of our Messiah, but meanwhile we're called to advance God's kingdom, no matter how we might be labeled.  The Kingdom is a present reality, not an escape.  People need healing, forgiveness, and love.  Put flesh on the Good News today.
  •  "The Lord will lead you...":  God’s kingdom is available to those open to it; through their obedience, they receive wisdom and peace and become a blessing to others.  Jesus warned his generation to heed God's word, comparing proud teachers with stubborn playmates.  His parable challenges us to ask whether our hearing is selective.  This parable echoes Eccl 3:4:  "a time to weep, a time to laugh; a time to mourn, a time to dance."  Do I listen to and heed God's word?  The scribes and Pharisees frustrated God's plan for them because they closed their hearts to John and Jesus.  Indifference and contempt can dull us to God's voice.  Only the humble can find joy in God....

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