Thursday, April 18, 2013

Traditionalists, Anti-Semitism and Rebooting the Discussion

In the recent dustup surrounding the alleged infestation of Anti-Semitism within traditionalist ranks, I tried giving one consistent message to anyone that would listen, a view that was backed up by almost every traditionalist, even those who are staunch opponents of Anti-Semitism:  that most traditionalists not only aren't Anti-Semites, the entire issue is completely foreign to all that they stand for.

The issue isn't then that traditionalists need to "clean their own house" on Anti-Semitism, as that house is more or less already clean.  Ask the real Anti-Semites, they are sad that they have less of a home even in the SSPX, to say nothing of within the formal structures of the Church!  Instead, the problem is more limited, and yet more widespread.

The problem instead is one of evangelizing, and being an outgoing, yet welcoming community.  We are incredibly welcoming.... if you find us.  More often than not, we are busy doing our own little thing.  We are running our Latin Mass centers, our homeschooling networks, our projects getting traditionalists to understand the liturgy better, etc.  Yet how many majority traditionalist groups hold bible studies with those who aren't traditionalists?  How many groups organize pro-life projects with people all over the diocese?  While the Catholic Church overall has a problem with evangelizing, I think this is far more serious for traditionalists.  It isn't that we are letting the Internet trolls and Bishop Williamsons define the traditionalist movement for us.  No, we are leaving it to the likes of many in the Catholic commentariat, who have a clear animus towards traditionalists.  (Some completely legit, some not so much.)

So how can we put a positive face on the Catholic relationship with the Jews, without falling into the "dual covenant" nonsense which states that apparently everyone needs Christ, except the Jews?

First and foremost, there needs to be respect.  Far too often, on  this issue (and others), we say "Anti-Semitism is simply hatred of the Jews as a race, not a religion.  We hate the false religion which rejects Christ."  This is true in a vacuum. More often than not, this is an excuse for bigotry.   Yet it says nothing of the fact that we really should respect our "elder brother" in the faith.

Don't like the claim "elder brother?"  Tough.  It's true.  We frequently make the point in our Scripture studies that the story of Jacob and Esau parallels the Old (Jewish) Covenant and the New (Gentile) Covenant.  This falls apart in some ways, but overall, it's a true enough analogy.  Yet in the Old Testament, the following command was given to the sons of Jacob by God:

Thou shalt not abhor the Edomite, because he is thy brother: nor the Egyptian, because thou wast a stranger in his land.  (Deuteronomy 23:7)
What makes this passage particularly interesting is that it is in the context of God's call to conquer the pagans in the land of Caanan.  He counsels absolutely no mercy or respect towards them.  (23:6)  Yet the bonds of brotherhood are different, even though the sons of Esau refused to help the sons of Jacob, and arguably made their journey a lot harder.  (Numbers 20:14-21)  In the end, we are to honor our Jewish brethren out of the fact that unlike the pagans, we are part of the same family, and we both claim Abraham as our Father.

Yet didn't things change when the Jews rejected the Messiah?  We need to remember that both Jews and Gentiles rejected Christ, as the Catechism of the Council of Trent reminds us:

Besides, to increase the dignity of this mystery, Christ not only suffered for sinners, but even for those who were the very authors and ministers of all the torments He endured. Of this the Apostle reminds us in these words addressed to the Hebrews: Think diligently upon him that endured such opposition from sinners against himself; that you be not wearied, fainting in your minds. In this guilt are involved all those who fall frequently into sin; for, as our sins consigned Christ the Lord to the death of the cross, most certainly those who wallow in sin and iniquity crucify to themselves again the Son of God, as far as in them lies, and make a mockery of Him. This guilt seems more enormous in us than in the Jews, since according to the testimony of the same Apostle: If they had known it, they would never have crucified the Lord of glory; while we, on the contrary, professing to know Him, yet denying Him by our actions, seem in some sort to lay violent hands on him.  (Article 4 on The Creed)
To assign greater blame to entire people is rather pointless.  When Christ said the Sanhedrin committed the "greater sin", he was clearly referring to the fact that they, being the chief stewards of God's people, should have known who the Messiah was.  If we are going to hold people to a "higher standard", we should probably start with us.

Does this mean that the Jews don't need Christ, or that we shouldn't proclaim Christ to them?  Everyone needs Christ, but especially our Jewish brethren.  Not because through finding the Messiah they are coming to a "new religion", but rather that they are coming to the fulfillment of the covenant they belong to.  I think on this, all Catholics can and do agree.  What is even more striking is that in bringing them to the Messiah on the individual level, we come closer to the moment when the elder brother returns to the fold and the sons of Isaac are together again.  Furthermore, as Jacob Michael masterfully demonstrated, this mass conversion of our elder brothers is part of the Tradition of the Fathers and the Catholic Church.

Yet these instances provide a reach far beyond people of Jewish ancestry who might be interested in the Extraordinary Form, an absurdly small sample size.  All Catholics should seek to have that balance between an emphasis on evangelization yet fidelity to Christ.  If they see it flourishing within the traditionalist movement, it is yet another chance for them to hear us out.  Once they hear us out, the description of traditionalists the Catholic Internet Commentariat give end up looking laughable.  Let's be real, if we can't do it for the right reasons, don't we want to make them look like fools?

One should therefore think very carefully about our actions in regards to our elder brothers in regards to the Gospel.  If we are erecting barriers towards their conversion, this isn't just a case of us doing a bad job evangelizing.  It's a case of hindering the fulfillment of God's salvific plan.  His will shall be accomplished, yet you aren't essential to that plan.

1 comment:

  1. I am Yachov Ben Yachov the bane & enemy of trolls and Williamsonite Jew bashing jerks & I so approve of Kevin Tierney's message!

    Baruch HaShem!

    B'Shem Y'sua HaBen Miriam HaKodesa!


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