d) The Jewish Tradition & Jesus

jesus as a jew fulfilling the law with eucharist

Top Quotes: The Jewish Tradition & Jesus

  1. “God had freed the Israelites from their oppressors in Egypt; God had called them to be the People of God….
    God heard the cries of his people in Israel and sent Jesus to liberate them.” (Fr Peter McVerry)
  2. “The reason Christ became the servant of circumcised Jews was not only so that God could faithfully carry out the promises made to the patriarchs, it was also to get the pagans to give glory to God for his mercy.” (St Paul)
  3. “Jesus had a great respect for the Law: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfil.” (Mt: 5-17)
    However, he was very critical of the abuse of the Law.” (Fr Peter McVerry)
  4. “God selected one particular people and spent several centuries hammering into their heads the sort of God he was—that there was only one of him and that he cared about right conduct.
    Those people were the Jews, and the Old Testament gives an account of the hammering process.” (CS Lewis)
  5. “Put crudely, in the Old Testament God said, if you are good and obedient, I shall be kind to you; if you are rebellious, I shall be angry with you and destroy you.
    Jesus shows us a different God, so to speak, one who is good to saints and sinners alike.” (Anthony de Mello)
  6. “The people were a bit bored by the way of teaching the faith, by the teachers of the Law of that time, who burdened the shoulders of the people with so many commandments, so many precepts, but did not come to people’s hearts.” (Pope Francis)
  7. “All the movement of the Old Testament is away from the murderous cultic acts that distinguish the pagans, moving nearer and nearer to the moral purity that is the essence of God.” (Sister Wendy Beckett)
  8. “When we read the account of the two disciples on their way to Emmaus which St Luke has written down for us, we become clearly aware of the fact that the Person of Christ illuminates the Old Testament, the whole history of salvation, and shows the great unitive design of the two Testaments, it shows the path to his oneness.
    Jesus, in fact, explains to the two bewildered and disappointed wayfarers that he is the fulfilment of every promise.” (Pope Benedict XVI)
  9. “I recall the desire of the Church to collaborate willingly with you in the great causes of mankind, knowing that we have a common tradition that honours the sanctity of God and calls us to love the Lord our God with all our heart, and with all our soul, and with all our strength.” (Pope John-Paul II to the Chief Rabbi of the Commonwealth)

Full Quotes & Sources: The Jewish Tradition & Jesus

“God had freed the Israelites from their oppressors in Egypt; God had called them to be the People of God and had given them the Laws that would enable them to live in freedom and peace. However, the Israelites failed to observe those laws, and, instead, oppression and injustice were, once again, as in Egypt, the lot of the People of God. Just as God heard the cries of his people in Egypt and sent Moses to liberate them, God heard the cries of his people in Israel and sent Jesus to liberate them.”

— Fr Peter McVerry, SJ, page 100 of his book ‘Jesus: Social Revolutionary?’, Veritas Publications, Dublin, 2008

“The reason Christ became the servant of circumcised Jews was not only so that God could faithfully carry out the promises made to the patriarchs, it was also to get the pagans to give glory to God for his mercy, as scripture says in one place: For this I shall praise you among the pagans and sing to your name.”

— St Paul in his letter to the Romans (15:8-9)(Jerusalem Bible version)

“The Law was an educational tool—it spelt out not only how to worship God but also how to relate to each other… The Law, therefore, was a rich source of inspiration and instruction for the people. However, … the Jewish authorities often re-interpreted the Law to suit their own needs and demanded a slavish adherence to the letter of the Law, as interpreted by them…. Jesus had a great respect for the Law: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfil.” (Mt: 5-17) However, he was very critical of the abuse of the Law.”

— Fr Peter McVerry, SJ, page 57 of his book ‘Jesus: Social Revolutionary?’, Veritas Publications, Dublin, 2008

“Satan… and what did God do? First of all he left us conscience, the sense of right and wrong… Secondly, he sent the human race what I call good dreams: I mean those queer stories scattered all through the heathen religions about a god who dies and who comes to life again and, by his death, has somehow given new life to men. Thirdly, he selected one particular people and spent several centuries hammering into their heads the sort of God he was—that there was only one of him and that he cared about right conduct. Those people were the Jews, and the Old Testament gives an account of the hammering process.

Then comes the real shock. Among these Jews there suddenly turns up a man who goes about talking as if he was God. He claims to forgive sins. He says he has always existed. He says he is coming to judge the world at the end of time.”

— CS Lewis

“Scripture scholars tell us of the difference between the messages of the Old Testament and the New. Put crudely, in the Old Testament God said, if you are good and obedient, I shall be kind to you; if you are rebellious, I shall be angry with you and destroy you. Jesus shows us a different God, so to speak, one who is good to saints and sinners alike, who gives to both the benefits of of his rain and his sunshine and his love. God’s love is not limited to those people who fulfill certain conditions, any more than a mother’s love is limited to those children who keep all the rules she imposes.”

— Anthony de Mello, SJ, ‘Contact with God: Retreat Conferences’

“The people feel this, and see that promises are fulfilled in Jesus, that in Jesus there is hope. The people were a bit bored by the way of teaching the faith, by the teachers of the Law of that time, who burdened the shoulders of the people with so many commandments, so many precepts, but did not come to people’s hearts. And when the people see Jesus and hear Jesus — His proposals, the Beatitudes — they feel something moving inside — it is the Holy Spirit that is causing people to stir — and they go to see Jesus.

Jesus saves! These healings, these words that reach the heart, are the sign and the beginning of  salvation — the path of salvation for many who begin to go to hear Jesus or to ask for a healing and then come back to Him and feel salvation.”

— Pope Francis, in his homily of 22nd January 2015, as translated by Vatican Radio and published on Rome Reports

“All the movement of the Old Testament is away from the murderous cultic acts that distinguish the pagans, moving nearer and nearer to the moral purity that is the essence of God.”

— Sister Wendy Beckett in ‘Sister Wendy On Prayer’

“Herod the Great, who ruled in Galilee from 37BC to 4BC, was given the title by Caesar of ‘King of the Jews’ (see John 18:33; 19:22)…. Increased taxes were levied to pay for Herod’s extravagant lifestyle… When Herod died in 4BC, riots broke out all over the Jewish land in response to Herod’s bruality. Rome sent the army in to quell the riots. The Jewish land was then divided in three parts to be ruled by Herod’s three sons — Herod Antipas, Philip and Archelaus. (Two years later, Archelaus was replaced by Pontius Pilate.)…. In Jerusalem, where Pilate was Governor, the High Priest and the temple authorities were given responsibility for collecting the taxes due to Rome and for maintaining order.”

— Fr Peter McVerry, SJ, page 106 & 107 of his book ‘Jesus: Social Revolutionary?’, Veritas Publications, Dublin, 2008

“In reading the Old Testament we can see how God intervenes in the history of the chosen people, the people with whom he made a covenant: these are not fleeting events that fade into oblivion. Rather, they become a “memory”, taken together they constitute the “history of salvation”, kept alive in the consciousness of the People of Israel through the celebration of the salvific events.

…. For Israel, the Exodus is the central historical event in which God reveals his powerful action. God sets the Israelites free from slavery in Egypt so that they may return to the Promised Land and worship him as the one true Lord. Israel does not set out to be a people like others — so that it might have national independence — but also to serve God in worship and in life, to create a place for God where men and women are obedient to him, where God is present and worshipped in the world — and of course, not only among the Israelites — but to witness to him also among the other peoples.

…. So it was that God revealed himself not only in the primordial act of the Creation, but also by entering our history, the history of a small people which was neither the largest nor the strongest. And this self-revelation of God, which develops through history, culminates in Jesus Christ: God, the Logos, the creative Word who is the origin of the world, took on flesh in Jesus and in him showed the true face of God.

In Jesus every promise is fulfilled, the history of God with humanity culminates in him. When we read the account of the two disciples on their way to Emmaus which St Luke has written down for us, we become clearly aware of the fact that the Person of Christ illuminates the Old Testament, the whole history of salvation, and shows the great unitive design of the two Testaments, it shows the path to his oneness. Jesus, in fact, explains to the two bewildered and disappointed wayfarers that he is the fulfilment of every promise: “and beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself” (24:27). The Evangelist records the exclamation of the two disciples after they had recognized that their travelling companion was the Lord: “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the scriptures?” (v. 32).

…. The Catechism of the Catholic Church retraces God’s journey with man from the Covenant with Noah after the flood, to the call to Abraham to leave his land to be made the father of a multitude of peoples. God forms his People Israel in the event of the Exodus, in the Covenant of Sinai and in the gift, through Moses, of the Law, in order to be recognized and served as the one living and true God. With the prophets, God forms his People in the hope of salvation.

We know — through Isaiah — of the “second Exodus”, the return of the People from the Babylonian Captivity to their own land, its refoundation; at the same time, however, many were dispersed and in this way began the universality of this faith. In the end, not only a King, David, a son of David, was awaited, but a “Son of man”, the salvation of all peoples. Encounters between cultures took place, first with Babylon and Syria, then also with the Greek multitude. Thus we see how God’s path broadens, how it unfolds increasingly towards the Mystery of Christ, King of the Universe. In Christ the Revelation in its fullness, God’s benevolent purpose, is brought about at last: he makes himself one of us.

I have reflected on remembering God’s action in human history to show the stages of this great plan of love, witnessed in the Old and New Testaments.”

— Pope Benedict XVI in his weekly General Audience, December 12 2012 (http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/audiences/2012/documents/hf_ben-xvi_aud_20121212_en.html)

“In the spirit of the Second Vatican Council I recall the desire of the Church to collaborate willingly with you in the great causes of mankind, knowing that we have a common tradition that honours the sanctity of God and calls us to love the Lord our God with all our heart, and with all our soul, and with all our strength (cf. Deut 6:5).”

— Pope John Paul II, said on his 1982 Visit to Britain to the Chief Rabbi of the Commonwealth (Sir Immanuel Jakobovits) as quoted on page 104 of “The Pope in Britain: Collected Homilies & Speeches”, St Paul Publications, Slough; 1982.

“When Israel’s great prophets were called, God initiated them through an interesting ritual. They were asked to physically eat the scroll of the law, to eat their scriptures (Ezek: 3:1-3). What a powerful symbolism! The idea is that they should digest the word and turn it into their own flesh so that people will be able to see the word of God in a living body rather than on a dead parchment…. If we would do this with the word of God, others would not have to read the Bible to see what God is like, they would only need to look at our faces and our lives to see God.”

— Fr Ron Rolheiser

“Through history and evolution
God was preparing the future.
In times of great darkness and pain,
or when forces of destruction intensified,
holy men and women,
prophets and philosophers of truth,
rose up.
Frequently they were healers of the spirit and the body,
men and women of wisdom
calling the people to righteous living.
Their knowledge of God
often came to them through dreams and visions;
and at particular times in history
they revealed certain aspects of the universal way to holiness.
This way became embodied in specific laws and traditions
and so humanity evolved.

But there were also false prophets inspired by evil spirits
who tried to undo the work of unity and holiness.
The walls of fear separating ethnic groups
rose higher and stronger.
… the inner freedom of the individual person
was suppressed or, if that was not possible,
the person was cast out from the group….
Different philosophies and religions developed.
One group, feeling better, wiser and holier than the others,
tried to overpower another….
Anger and hatred continued to smoulder,
exploding from time to time….
It was in and through one of these peoples
that God chose to become flesh,
to become one of us,
to be touched and heard and seen and loved,
and even hated….
Only a body
that could contain the experience of all humankind
could reconcile heaven and earth.

….

God watched over the Jewish people
throughout the centuries of their fidelity and infidelities.

He sent prophets
Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel
and many others to sustain hope
and faithfulness in the people,
reminding them of the love
through which they were born and held and protected.

And God announced that from this people
a Saviour, a Messiah,
the Anointed One,
the Holy One, would be born.”

— Jean Vanier, founder of the L’Arche communities, in his 1988 book ‘The Broken Body’ page 32 and page 34

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