Promoting a Deeper Understanding between Christians and Jews

Throughout the year, we're encouraged to play our part in promoting a deeper understanding between Christians and Jews.

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Throughout the year, we’re encouraged to play our part in promoting a deeper understanding between Christians and Jews.

The Church invites us to pray and think more seriously about what we share with the Jewish people and what Christians and Jews could do together.

Why the Church has a special time to reflect on her relationship with the Jewish people

At the Vatican Council the Church rediscovered her roots in Judaism and her bond with the Jewish people. Catholics are called to become more aware of the links between our two communities.

The greatest link is Jesus, himself a first-century Jew faithful to the Torah (God’s revealed law). Other links: the Word of God in the Bible; the idea of ‘God’s People’; worship and morality.

In the light of persecution and intolerance through the centuries culminating in the Shoah (‘Holocaust’), the Church recognises that Jews and Judaism have often been presented with prejudice and injustice.

Judaism has continued and developed since the birth of Christianity. Christians should be helped towards a respect for the Jewish people, and an appreciation of Judaism as a way to God.

Christians have a great love for the Holy Land. They must be encouraged to pray for peace and deepen their understanding of the situation in Israel. Views on policies within Israel should not hinder concern and prayer for Jews, nor prevent co-operation with them for the common good.

The relationship between Judaism and Christianity is of fundamental importance to the life of the Church.

Practical ideas for reflection

  • Organise some Bible study sessions.
  • Hold a course on some aspects of Judaism or on Jesus in his Jewish setting.
  • Ask the schools to hold an assembly on Judaism. Invite a member of the Jewish community to speak.
  • If you live near a synagogue, get to know the Rabbi. Invite him or her to speak to a parish group.
  • Include some books Judaism on your bookstall.

What to be aware of in the liturgy and when giving homilies

The Jewish roots of many Christian liturgical practices and feasts. For example: Passover and Easter; Shavout and Pentecost; Synagogue Service and Liturgy of the Word.

Jesus as a Jew of his time.

A proper presentation of the Pharisees from whom rabbinic Judaism developed.

The value of both the Old Testament and the New Testament readings.

Caution in approaching the confrontations between Jesus and the Jewish authorities related in the Gospels, being aware that their intensity sometimes reflects tensions at the later time when the Gospels were written.

The value of Judaism, both in the time of Jesus and now, so that Judaism is not presented as superseded or replaced by Christianity. “God does not repent of his promises” (cf Romans 11:29)

Special care during Advent to stress that we are all waiting for the final promises to be fulfilled , and during Lent and Easter that the old charge or ‘decide’ is not made or even implied.

We have a section with prayers and resources for fostering a deeper understanding between Christians and Jews.