In a very real sense the Jewish people are still heirs to the covenant; it is just that they have not yet realized that the covenant has taken on a slightly different form to what they first expected. Unfortunately they did not recognize the Messiah in the form that he came. However, this will not be the case when he comes again in all his glory; when this happens everyone will see, believe and know that He is the Son of God.
The past 40 years following on from Vatican II there has been a lot of dialogue between the Vatican and various leading Jewish figures. This new depth of relationship has given rise to such descriptions of the Jewish people as our older brothers and so on. As Christians we have much to be thankful for to the Jews in that they were the ones who for two thousand years developed the understanding of God and His dealings with humanity that we assumed with our faith in Christ. If it were not for them we would not have the rich heritage of revelation present to us in the Old Testament! It is important that we do not divorce our understanding of Christianity from its Jewish roots. Likewise it is important that we never forget that the revelation of Christ gives rise to a new tool with which to interpret and understand the Old Testament writings.
Like most tensions in life it is important to avoid the extremes while trying to walk a middle path. Jesus certainly knew and respected his Jewish heritage as the Scriptures record His faithful following of the Law in terms of rituals and celebrations. As we seek to redefine Christianity for the third millennium let us not lose sight of our roots while at the same time endeavor to speak into the lives of a very modern society. We are heirs to the Kingdom of God – let us never forget where we have come from and to where we are going.
How well do I know the history of my Catholic faith? Perhaps I ought to do a little reading here in order to better understand from where the faith I profess has come.
Father, you carefully guide the Church through the difficulties of relating to a modern and often atheistic world. Help me to remain firmly rooted in the heritage of my faith so that I have a firm foundation upon which to builds my life.