I will bless them that bless thee…

It is always useful to consult Scripture whenever there is a question. One in particular that has vexed the Christian church since its very beginnings has been how to treat the Jews. The simplest answer is to be found in the beginning; in the Book of Genesis, chapter 12:

1Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee:

2And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:

3And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.

Jesus of Nazareth was a Jew. His parents were both Jews. All of the apostles were Jews, as were virtually all of those who were called to be disciples of Jesus.

St. Paul taught us to distinguish between being a slave of the law, assuming righteousness, yet with an unclean heart (e.g. Romans 2). Was this a rejection of the Jews qua Jews? Some Christians have made this claim, the notion that Paul was rejecting the Jewish people.

Not at all. Paul was rejecting, as we too must reject, the legalism that can too readily become a substitute for the love of God and of our neighbor. This isn’t what being a faithful Jew, or Christian for that matter, is about; it is only an imagined vision of Jews who observe as many of the 613 commandments from Torah as they are able to.

The faithful Jew is no more a legalistic automaton than is the Catholic who prays the Rosary and attends daily Mass, each with its formulaic prayers, seemingly repeated endlessly and without the Spirit. The same may be said for fundamentalist Protestants who insist on the literal word-for-word truth of selected passages of Scripture, but who lack Christian love.

Legalism comes in many forms; it is hardly a Jewish disease. It is a human failing. The point is that the Jews remain blessed by God, Who does not lie or change His mind. There are not two covenants or testaments; there is but a single God, triune in nature, who reveals Himself to us throughout history. His promises remain true.

First to the Jews; then to all. Will the Jews “come around” as they say? I think so, although it may take until the end times when all knees will bow at the name of Jesus. Until then, our job is to love all men, but take especially care to preserve Israel, and the Jews.

It’s what our Lord expects of us.

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