The logic inherent in the above-quoted three scriptures is inescapable. God desires all men to be saved. This must be accomplished in the short lifetime of each individual person through conversion and baptism. The Church has been sent by Christ to accomplish this mission, which can only be realized through the effort to convert every person while he or she is yet living. Christ’s mandate to convert all individuals and peoples is, in other words, universal and immediate.
Those who attend the Traditional Latin Mass are aware of “The Great Intercessions” of the Good Friday liturgy. These include the individual prayers for the conversion of heretics and schismatics (these two categories obviously are aimed primarily at Protestants and Eastern Orthodoxy), Jews, and pagans. Up until the year 2008, all of these prayers reflected this universality and immediacy examined above. They were all prayers for conversion now. This is no longer true.
On February 6, 2008 Pope Benedict XVI issued a new prayer for the Jews, declaring that it “must be used” in the Traditional Latin Mass, beginning with the 2008 Good Friday liturgy. It was my contention in my article "The First Essentialization" (CO, March, 2008) that this new version no longer was constituted as a prayer for Jewish conversion now, but rather represented a radical change in intention — petitioning God for a process of gradual illumination, culminating in some omega point in the future where they will accept Christ after “the fullness of the gentiles enters into Thy Church.” Thus, Pope Benedict’s new version of this prayer essentially represented a denial or nullification of the Church’s immediate mission towards the Jews. The accuracy of this analysis has recently been confirmed by the Pope himself in Light of the World, in the following passage:
But the new formulation also shifts the focus from a direct petition for the conversion of the Jews in a missionary sense to a plea that the Lord might bring about the hour of history when we may all be united (p. 107).
If the unconverted Jews are to be exempted from the Church’s missionary efforts, then the traditional view of them as a threat to Christianity, and Christian civilization, must be overturned. The primary conveyer of this image of the Jews for the past 2,000 years has been Holy Scripture. A radical new reinterpretation, and falsification, of New Testament teaching regarding the Jews thus becomes imperative. This has been supplied for us by Pope Benedict XVI in his new book, Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week: From the Entrance into Jerusalem to the Resurrection (pages 184-188).
Arbitrary and Contradictory
Pope Benedict’s entire effort in the direction of this new interpretation is centred on proving that responsibility for the crucifixion of Jesus was limited to the Temple aristocracy, and did not involve the “masses” of the Jews. He thus writes:
The fact is that the Gospel of John in no way precisely indicates that the phrase “the Jews” is limited to the Temple aristocracy. The Pope’s judgment on this is purely arbitrary and is, in fact, contradicted by what the other Gospels and the rest of the New Testament have to say on this matter.
Benedict XVI next turns to the Gospel of Mark, in which the “circle of accusers” is clearly seen as not being limited to the Temple aristocracy. There we find Mark relating that the “people” (ochlos), having been “moved” by the chief priests, demand both the release of Barabbas and the crucifixion of Jesus. According to Pope Benedict’s analysis, however, “this ‘crowd’ is made up of the followers of Barabbas who have been mobilized to secure the amnesty for him,” and that this ochlos “does not refer to the Jewish people as such.” The Pope offers no evidence for this assertion. Nor does he see here the transparent contradiction to his earlier statement about the “accusers” being “limited to the Temple aristocracy.
Even more disturbing is the Pope’s handling of the account given in the Gospel of St. Matthew. Matthew relates that when Pilate tried to reason with the people, and questioned them as to what Jesus had done to merit crucifixion, they raised a “tumult”, “cried out the more, saying: ‘Let him be crucified’,” and that “the whole people answering, said: ‘His blood be upon us and upon our children’.” Pope Benedict’s response to St. Matthew’s account is a simple, flat denial of its historical reality and accuracy:
The historical accuracy of the Gospel of Matthew is thus denied, and the “whole people” is reduced by the Pope to being a mere “crowd of Barrabas supporters.”
Having presented Pope Benedict’s words, let us now turn to a more detailed examination of New Testament teaching concerning the Jews. Scripture itself will easily expose the falsehoods involved in the Pope’s analysis
A Fourfold Truth Concerning the Jews
The New Testament presents four central truths concerning the Jews:
The first of these consists in the revelation that Jesus Christ is the definitive fulfillment of God’s covenant with Abraham and the Jewish nation. Those Jews who were faithful to the Old Covenant recognized Christ as coming from the Father. In his letter to the Galatians, St. Paul writes,
There is therefore only one seed of Abraham, and that is Jesus Christ. Jesus said to the Jews, “If God were your Father, you would indeed love me…. He that is of God, heareth the words of God. Therefore you hear them not because you are not of God” (John 8:42,47). On the day of Pentecost there were present in Jerusalem, “Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven” (Acts 2:5). These were obviously Jews who, in accord with Christ’s words, loved the Father and “heard” the word; for, upon hearing this “word” as preached in a sermon by St. Peter, 3,000 of them converted and were baptized. The Twelve Apostles and St. Paul were all Jews. Mary, the Mother of Our Lord, was a Jew, as was Mary Magdalene. The Pharisees Gamaliel and Joseph of Arimathea were Jews. Obviously, none of these were to be accounted among the “whole people” who cried out for Christ’s crucifixion. They were of that seed which is the true Jew and the true Israel, and therefore heard the Word of Christ.
The second truth is that those Jews who reject Christ as coming from the Father are not spiritual children of the Father, but rather are in service to Satan, and are enemies of God and His Church. These constitute the “whole people” which demanded the crucifixion of Christ. In John 8:43-45, Our Lord, after telling the Jews that they seek to kill Him because “my word hath no place in you,” describes a kind of Jew in direct contrast to the “devout Jews” described above:
This Satanically-inspired, “natural” inclination of the unconverted Jew (one who does not “hear” the word of Christ and Christianity) is even more graphically described by St. Paul, himself a devout Jew:
For you, brethren, are become followers of the churches of God which are in Judea, in Christ Jesus: for you also suffered the same things from your own countrymen, even as they have from the Jews,
Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and the prophets, and have persecuted us, and please not God, and are adversaries to all men;
Prohibiting us to speak to the Gentiles, that they may be saved, to fill up their sins always: for the wrath of God is come upon them to the end. (1 Thess 2:14-16).
Now, either the Bible is a deeply anti-Semitic book, or there must be some truth behind the words of Our Lord and St. Paul in regard to the Jews which is based on something other than mere racial origin. In order to unlock this apparent mystery, we shall take each of the points made by St. Paul in the above passage from his Epistle to the Thessalonians, and examine it in the light of other scriptures.
First, the Jews killed Our Lord Jesus Christ. Notice that Paul uses the term “Jews” in the context of a letter to the Church in Thessalonica, and explicitly says that they (the Thessalonians) have suffered the same thing from the Jews (their own Jews) as those in Judea. In other words, the term “Jews” as used here has nothing to do with the Temple aristocracy in Jerusalem.
Second, the Jews persecute the Christians. And again, in the history of the early Church as presented to us in the New Testament, they do so with a unanimity which parallels the unanimity of the unconverted Jews in their hatred and persecution of Christ. Thus, at the conclusion of Stephen’s speech, St. Luke relates that the Jews “with one accord ran violently upon him (Acts 7: 56).” St. Paul also experienced this united hatred of the Jews: “But when Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews with one accord rose up against Paul, and brought him to the judgment seat….”
(Acts 18: 12). Any contention that the word “Jew” is here limited to a “Temple aristocracy” is of course absurd.
Third, the Jews conspire against Christianity, especially by attempting to turn rulers and governments against Christians. Again, St. Luke relates, “But the Jews stirred up religious and honourable women, and the chief men of the city [Antioch], and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas” (Acts 13:50); and, [in Iconium] “But the unbelieving Jews stirred up and incensed the minds of the Gentiles against the brethren” (Acts 14: 2); further, “But the Jews, moved with envy, and taking unto them some wicked men of a vulgar sort, and making a tumult, set the city [Thessalonica] in an uproar…. And they stirred up the people, and the rulers of the city” (Acts 17: 5-8). We are dealing here with events which can only be labeled with the word “conspiracy.” In fact, the only time this word is used in the New Testament is in regard to the conspiracy by over forty Jews to assassinate St. Paul in Jerusalem (Acts 23: 12-15).
Fourth, “the wrath of God has come upon them to the end.” This is a terrible admission by St. Paul, himself a Jew, and one who deeply loved his people, and sorrowed over their rejection of Christ (Rom 9: 1-6). In order to understand God’s wrath against the “unbelieving” Jews “until the end,” it is first necessary to analyze the nature of their rejection of Christ — what is, in effect, the “maxima culpa” of the Jewish nation.
When the scribes and Pharisees came to Jesus and demanded to know why his disciples “transgress the tradition of the ancients,” He answered them with a question: “Why do you also transgress the commandment of God for your tradition…. This people honoureth me with their lips: but their heart is far from me. And in vain do they worship me, teaching the doctrines and commandments of men” (Mt 15: 3-9). The “tradition” which Jesus here condemns refers to the accretion of laws and customs (the Haklakha or Talmud) formed around and over the Torah (the first five books of the Old Testament — God’s “Traditions”), much of which violated and perverted God’s traditions. This substitution of false tradition for God’s tradition culminated in the murder of Christ for the sake of the Jewish nation:
In order to understand the unanimity of the unconverted Jews against Christ and Christianity, we must appreciate the nature of that covenant which God established with the Jewish nation in the Old Testament.
Israel was to be a nation set apart, the one nation on this earth faithful to the true God and His commandments. For this reason God quite literally surrounded and embraced this small nation with His laws and traditions, thereby creating a cohesiveness (religious, cultural, political, etc.) among this people which no other nation possesses. When the Jews perverted God’s laws and substituted the “traditions of men” for those of God, they retained much of this cohesiveness, now directed towards perverted ends. Finally, when this collective perversion led them to rejection of the Messiah Who was so obviously the One prophesied in the Old Testament, their hearts and minds turned to the exaltation of the Jewish nation (the embodiment of their false traditions) at the expense of killing Christ and then persecuting His Church.
One other point needs to be emphasized here. All of this does not mean that every unconverted Jew is a “Christ-killer.” St. Thomas distinguishes between what he calls the “major” and “minor” Jews. The former may truly be called “Christ-killers”, but it would not be appropriate to apply such a term to the latter. At the time of Jesus, the former would be those leaders (the Temple aristocracy) who knew who Jesus was, and consciously and calculatedly sought His death. The latter (the “minor” Jews) were those who followed their leaders and, while not being free from complicity, yet participated without full knowledge of what they were doing. The sin of the former is obviously much greater, but the sin of the latter is not to be dismissed. It takes both to constitute those worldwide forces at war with Christianity and Christian civilization.
III: Two Israels
The third scriptural truth regarding the Jews penetrates to the heart of the confusion which now ensnares so many Christians in regard to their understanding of the Jews, their history and their destiny. In his Epistle to the Romans, St. Paul writes:
This third scriptural truth concerning the Jews actually defines what is meant by the terms “Jews” and “Israel” when we use these terms in relation to God’s covenant. Most readers will have read or heard quoted Pope Pius XI’s statement, “We are all spiritual Semites.” The above-quoted scriptures establish that there are in fact two Israels, two kinds of “seeds” of Abraham, two types of Jews. With each of these pairs, one is of the flesh, leading to spiritual bondage and death; the other is of the spirit, leading to justification and eternal life. We are all spiritual Semites, children of Abraham, true Jews and Israelites, only in our identification with, and membership in, the “spiritual” Israel which is the Church.
All this, in turn, necessitates a further distinction between two Testaments and two Jerusalems. Again, from Saint Paul:
Therefore, all the promises of the Old Testament covenant concerning Israel, the Jews, and Jerusalem are fulfilled in the New Testament and in the New Jerusalem which is the Roman Catholic Church. Any Jew of physical descent, like any person of any other race, can only be in a true covenantal relation with God now if he or she is a member of the Catholic Church.
It is important to note that despite the fact that Holy Scripture clearly reveals that the Old Covenant was completely fulfilled in the New, and that it is absolutely wrong to speak of a Jewish covenant as in any way distinct from the Church, it is still correct to assert a special providential relationship between God and those who are Jews, based on their race. Speaking of Israel, and God’s special providence towards the Jewish people, St. Paul writes:
Having understood the distinctions which St. Paul makes between the two Israels, we are now in a position to properly understand this very important passage of scripture. St. Paul here speaks of both the Israel of the flesh and the Israel of the spirit. Israel of the flesh, rejecting its own fulfillment in Christ, is now the enemy of Christ and Christians. However, there exists a point in future, after “the fullness of the gentiles should come in”, when God’s providential care (election) of the Jews will find fulfillment in what many Church Fathers saw as a large-scale conversion of Jews to Christ and to the Catholic Church. St. Thomas writes, “When the fullness of the Gentiles shall have entered in, all Israel will be saved, not merely individuals as at present but the whole nation as a body” (Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, Ch. XI, Lect. 4).
However, none of this erases the fact that all persons in the world, including Jews who live now before this final “grafting back in”, are proper subjects of the Church’s present missionary effort. We see this fully evident in St. Paul’s own missionary efforts, in which he first preached to the Jews in any given locality. There are always “devout” Jewish souls, always a “remnant” awaiting the truth of Christ. It is these souls which have been abandoned by the import of the new prayer in the Great Intercessions of the Good Friday Service.
The Fourth Truth
There is a final Gospel truth concerning the Jews which is of immense consequence to those who live in this present moment of God’s providential history.
The Church Fathers, including Saints Jerome, Ambrose, Gregory the Great, Ephraim, and John Chrysostom give overwhelming testimony to the view that the nation of Israel will accept the Antichrist upon his ascent to power (this of course occurs before the “grafting back in” spoken of by St. Paul). Their conclusion in this regard is based especially on an analysis of Our Lord’s prophetic statement to the unbelieving Jews, “I am come in the name of my Father, and you receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him you will receive” (John 5:43). St. Jerome, in his interpretation of this passage, explains: “The Jews, after having despised the truth in the Person of Jesus Christ, will welcome falsehood by acclaiming Antichrist” [Fr. Dennis Fahey, The Kingship of Christ and the Conversion of the Jewish Nation].
As this time of the advent of Antichrist approaches, we may be sure that there will be an almost irresistible “operation of error” (1 Thess 2:10) relentlessly propagated by every organ of the media and educational establishments, through foreign policy and Jewish “hegemony” over all the various facets of the intellectual and cultural life of nations, to induce all peoples and especially Christians to identify intellectually and affectively with the “work” of the Jewish nation and religion.
As documented in recent articles in Christian Order, we see this reality now prominent in the civil realm. As documented in Pope Benedict’s recent books, we see it now dominant within the Church. Such error will almost certainly have the effect of drawing many Catholics, along with the Jewish nation, into the eventual embrace of the “Son of Perdition” (2 Thess 3:3).