Monday, July 7, 2014

Evangelii Gaudium, Part Eleven

If we really believe in the abundantly free working of the Holy Spirit, we can learn so much from one another! It is not just about being better informed about others, but rather about reaping what the Spirit has sown in them, which is also meant to be a gift for us. To give but one example, in the dialogue with our Orthodox brothers and sisters, we Catholics have the opportunity to learn more about the meaning of episcopal collegiality and their experience of synodality. 

But what if their ideas on these subjects is completely wrong? Are we to assume that a certain idea is right just because it is promoted by someone else?

247. We hold the Jewish people in special regard because their covenant with God has never been revoked, for “the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable” (Rom 11:29). 

I’m not sure what is meant here. There is no more covenant with the Jews. The kingdom was taken away from them (Matthew 21:43). Suffice to say, the old covenant wasn't revoked. It was fulfilled. It certainly has no further salvific value.

As Christians, we cannot consider Judaism as a foreign religion; nor do we include the Jews among those called to turn from idols and to serve the true God (cf. 1 Thes 1:9). With them, we believe in the one God who acts in history, and with them we accept his revealed word.

Jews are definitely not pagans, and it would be incorrect to view them as such. I’m not sure what is meant by “we accept his revealed word.” Jews don’t. Even if we limit this to the Old Testament, Christians view it as a piece of salvation history directed solely at the coming of Christ and His kingdom. Jews reject all this. It’s like asking two people to look at a traffic light and describe what it means. One might say it’s a variety of colors that tell cars when to stop and go. The other might say that it’s a variety of colors that tell pedestrians when to skip or walk backwards. The fact that they both acknowledge that it’s a variety of colors isn’t really mutual acceptance, in my opinion. 

While it is true that certain Christian beliefs are unacceptable to Judaism, and that the Church cannot refrain from proclaiming Jesus as Lord and Messiah, there exists as well a rich complementarity which allows us to read the texts of the Hebrew Scriptures together and to help one another to mine the riches of God’s word.

And isn’t that a tragedy? From all that was said in the prior sections, shouldn’t this mean that we should make it a priority to evangelize Jewish people? St. John XXIII saw fit to declare St. Lawrence of Brindisi as a Doctor of the Church, whose primary mission in life was the conversion of Jews. Shouldn't we make similar efforts?

A facile syncretism would ultimately be a totalitarian gesture on the part of those who would ignore greater values of which they are not the masters. True openness involves remaining steadfast in one’s deepest convictions, clear and joyful in one’s own identity, while at the same time being “open to understanding those of the other party” and “knowing that dialogue can enrich each side”.[196] What is not helpful is a diplomatic openness which says “yes” to everything in order to avoid problems, for this would be a way of deceiving others and denying them the good which we have been given to share generously with others. 

There’s also the desire to save souls. Why isn’t that ever mentioned anymore?
252. Our relationship with the followers of Islam has taken on great importance, since they are now significantly present in many traditionally Christian countries, where they can freely worship and become fully a part of society. 

Many of them also have a deep conviction that their life, in its entirety, is from God and for God. 

I’m sure the Aztecs thought the same thing whilst they were busy cutting out people’s hearts. Is sincerity a difference-maker in this area? I’m not sure that it is.

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