R. Sungenis: A few weeks ago, someone sent me the following paper from the 1988 USCCB’s Committee on the Liturgy in defense of Catholics practicing Jewish seder meals during Holy Week. As I read the document, I was astounded by the multitude of erroneous ideas and often heretical statements it contained. I have gone through the USCCB paper paragraph by paragraph, and I have underlined the more disturbing parts of its essay. I have given a detailed critique of its assertions.
For now, let me summarize what the USCCB is proposing:
10) Jesus' interpretation of biblical law is similar to that found in the Talmud (a Jewish book of the 7th century AD that says Christ was a fraud and is in hell).
11) the Jews had little or nothing to do with causing the death of Christ; all people are guilty of causing his death.
12) Catholic homilists should consult rabbinic, medieval and modern Jewish sources for alternative interpretations of Scripture.
13) Scripture often has a dual interpretation, allowing for distinct Jewish and Catholic viewpoints. It is not necessary for Jews to see Christ prophesied in the Old Testament.
14) the Jews have a common belief and interest with Christians since both groups are looking for the return of the Messiah (even though Jews do not believe that the Messiah who is coming is Jesus Christ).
Bishop's Committee on the Liturgy,
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
USCCB: Introduction: On June 24, 1985, the solemnity of the Birth of John the Baptist, the Holy See's Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews issued its Notes on the Correct Way to Present the Jews and Judaism in Preaching and Catechesis of the Roman Catholic Church (hereafter, 1985 Notes; USCC Publication No. 970). The 1985 Notes rested on a foundation of previous church statements, addressing the tasks given Catholic homilists by the Second Vatican Council's Declaration on the Relationship of the Church to Non-Christian Religions (Nostra Aetate), no. 4.
On December 1, 1974, for example, the Holy See had issued Guidelines and Suggestions for Implementing the Conciliar Declaration "Nostra Aetate," no. 4 (hereafter, 1974 Guidelines). The second and third sections of this document placed central emphasis on the important and indispensable role of the homilist in ensuring that God's Word be received without prejudice toward the Jewish people or their religious traditions, asking "with respect to liturgical readings," that "care be taken to see that homilies based on them will not distort their meaning, especially when it is a question of passages which seem to show the Jewish people as such in unfavorable light" (1974 Guidelines, no. 2). In this country, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, in 1975, similarly urged catechists and homilists to work together to develop among Catholics increasing "appreciation of the Jewishness of that heritage and rich spirituality which we derive from Abraham, Moses, the prophets, the psalmists, and other spiritual giants of the Hebrew Scriptures" (Statement on Catholic-Jewish Relations, November 20, 1975, no. 12).
Much progress has been made since then. As it continues, sensitivities will need even further sharpening, founded on the Church's growing understanding of biblical and rabbinic Judaism.
It is the purpose of these present Guidelines to assist the homilist in these continuing efforts by indicating some of the major areas where challenges and opportunities occur and by offering perspectives and suggestions for dealing with them.
Jewish Roots of the Liturgy
USCCB (1): "Our common spiritual heritage [with Judaism] is considerable. To assess it carefully in itself and with due awareness of the faith and religious life of the Jewish people as they are professed and practiced still today, can greatly help us to understand better certain aspects of the life of the Church. Such is the case with the liturgy, whose Jewish roots remain still to be examined more deeply, and in any case should be better known and appreciated by the faithful" (Pope John Paul II, March 6, 1982).
R. Sungenis: What we see here, at least as judged by the horrendous statements that follow in the remaining 31 points, is what I would call the initial desensitizing. It is one thing to honor and respect Jewish tradition as it was lived in the Old Testament (which we should all do since they were the Chosen People of God), but it is quite another to insist that what is “practiced today in the religious life of the Jewish people” has any direct relationship with the former people of God. The Jews of today who practice Judaism deny the quintessential tenet of both the Old and the New Testaments, namely, that Jesus Christ is the prophesied messiah of the Old Testament who appeared as a baby in Bethlehem over 2000 years ago. The essence of post-Old Testament Judaism, all the way up to modern Judaism (reformed and orthodox) is the denial that Jesus Christ is the Second Person of the Trinity and the Savior of the world. As such, Judaism is an apostate and heretical religion that is totally antithetical to Christianity. But as you read the 32 points the USCCB makes in this essay, not one word of that antithesis will be admitted. Instead, the USCCB paper will do its best not only to ignore this antithesis but develop a view of Judaism that is essentially on par with that of Christianity. This is heresy at its worst – giving sanction to a religion that repudiates Jesus Christ and everything He stands for. END
USCCB (2): Nowhere is the deep spiritual bond between Judaism and Christianity more apparent than in the liturgy. The very concepts of a liturgical cycle of feasts and the lectio continua principle of the lectionary that so mark Catholic tradition are adopted from Jewish liturgical practice. Easter and Pentecost have historical roots in the Jewish feasts of Passover and Shavuot. Though their Christian meaning is quite distinct, an awareness of their original context in the story of Israel is vital to their understanding, as the lectionary readings themselves suggest. Where appropriate, such relationships should be pointed out. The homilist, as a "mediator of meaning" (NCCB Committee on Priestly Life and Ministry, Fulfilled in Your Hearing, 1982) interprets for the liturgical assembly not only the Scriptures but their liturgical context as well.
R. Sungenis: Yes, we would agree that the Old Testament feasts of Passover and Shavuot are important in appreciating the New Testament events of Easter and Pentecost, but that is where the relationship ends. Any attempt to show a correlation between what the Jews of today believe about Passover and Savuot with that of the New Testament is erroneous. All Jews of today, except those who have converted to Christianity, deny the essence of Easter and Pentecost, that is, they deny the existence and role of the Second and Third Persons of the Trinity who form the basis for Easter and Pentecost, respectively. END
USCCB (3): The central action of Christian worship, the Eucharistic celebration, is likewise linked historically with Jewish ritual. The term for Church, ecclesia, like the original sense of the word synagogue, is an equivalent for the Hebrew keneset or kenessiyah (assembly). The Christian understanding of ecclesia is based on the biblical understanding of qahal as the formal "gathering" of the people of God. The Christian ordo (order of worship) is an exact rendering of the earliest rabbinic idea of prayer, called a seder, that is, an "order" of service. Moreover, the Christian ordo takes its form and structure from the Jewish seder: the Liturgy of the Word, with its alternating biblical readings, doxologies, and blessings; and the liturgical form of the Eucharist, rooted in Jewish meal liturgy, with its blessings over bread and wine. Theologically, the Christian concept of anamnesis coincides with the Jewish understanding of zikkaron (memorial reenactment). Applied to the Passover celebration, zikkaron refers to the fact that God's saving deed is not only recalled but actually relived through the ritual meal. The synoptic gospels present Jesus as instituting the Eucharist during a Passover seder celebrated with his followers, giving to it a new and distinctly Christian "memory."
R. Sungenis: Says who? The Synoptic Gospels never state that Jesus instituted the Eucharist during a Passover seder. It has only assumed to be the case, but there is no solid evidence for such a conclusion. The Synoptic Gospels do not even use terminology that is associated with a Passover seder. For example, whereas the Passover seder requires unleavened bread, the Synoptic Gospels state that leavened bread was used at the Last Supper. In fact, the Gospel of John says the Passover occurred on the day after the Last Supper, on Friday, not Thursday. Benedict XVI has acknowledged this fact in his new book Jesus of Nazareth, Part II. If anything, the four Gospels are making a break with the Passover seder. END
USCCB (4): In addition to the liturgical seasons and the Eucharist, numerous details of prayer forms and ritual exemplify the Church's continuing relationship with the Jewish people through the ages. The liturgy of the hours and the formulas of many of the Church's most memorable prayers, such as the "Our Father," continue to resonate with rabbinic Judaism and contemporary synagogue prayers.
R. Sungenis: Hardly. What continues to “resonate with rabbinic Judaism and contemporary synagogue prayers” is that Jesus Christ is a fraud and the very reason that Jews today only pray to the “Father.” That the USCCB is ignoring this bold fact and trying to sweep it under the rug as if it was no concern says more than anything about its modus operandi when it comes to this topic. END
Historical Perspectives and Contemporary Proclamation
USCCB (5): The strongly Jewish character of Jesus' teaching and that of the primitive Church was culturally adapted by the growing Gentile majority and later blurred by controversies alienating Christianity from emerging rabbinic Judaism at the end of the first century. "By the third century, however, a de-Judaizing process had set in which tended to undervalue the Jewish origins of the Church, a tendency that has surfaced from time to time in devious ways throughout Christian history" (Statement on Catholic-Jewish Relations, no. 12).
R. Sungenis: From whom? There was no consensus or even semi-consensus of the Fathers, nor was there any official Church declaration that sought to “undervalue the Jewish origins of the Church.” If anything, these “origins” were enhanced by the Church. The Fathers are replete with allegorized interpretations of the Old Testament that connected its feasts and sacred events with the establishment and practice of the New Testament Church. Conversely, there existed only isolated instances among some of the more marginal figures (e.g., Marcion) of an attempt to separate the Old Testament from the New. END
USCCB (6): This process has manifested itself in various ways in Christian history. In the second century, Marcion carried it to its absurd extreme, teaching a complete opposition between the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures and declaring that different Gods had inspired the two Testaments. Despite the Church's condemnation of Marcion's teachings, some Christians over the centuries continued to dichotomize the Bible into two mutually contradictory parts. They argued, for example, that the New Covenant "abrogated" or "superseded" the Old, and that the Sinai Covenant was discarded by God and replaced with another. The Second Vatican Council, in Dei Verbum and Nostra Aetate, rejected these theories of the relationship between the Scriptures. In a major address in 1980, Pope John Paul II linked the renewed understanding of Scripture with the Church's understanding of its relationship with the Jewish people, stating that the dialogue, as "the meeting between the people of God of the Old Covenant, never revoked by God, is at the same time a dialogue within our Church, that is to say, a dialogue between the first and second part of its Bible" (Pope John Paul II, Mainz, November 17, 1980).
R. Sungenis: Here we see the same misinterpretation of both Nostra Aetate and John Paul II that eventually led the USCCB to produce the 2006 United States Catholic Catechism for Adults to say the heretical statement on page 131: “Thus the covenant that God made with the Jewish people through Moses remains eternally valid for them.” But in their executive session of June-August 2008, the bishops of the United States voted 243 to 14 to excise that erroneous sentence from the US Catechism, and this decision was ratified by the Vatican in the following year. The Jewish Old Covenant, whether it was the Sinai covenant with Moses or the covenant of circumcision with Abraham, was indeed “superseded” by the New Covenant in Jesus Christ. Here is the testimony of Tradition, Scripture and the Magisterium:
The USCCB, whether deliberately or inadvertently, attempts to give the impression that the relationship of the New Testament to the Old is either/or, and thus it forces the reader to take one side or the other. We can see this ploy by the verbiage employed. It frames the debate into one which equates “abrogate” and “superseded” with “discarding,” thus failing to make the proper distinction between legal supersession and practical use of the Old Testament. The legal stipulations of the Old Covenant (e.g., the ceremonial, civil and ethical laws) are legally abrogated and superseded by the New Covenant, but that doesn’t mean the New Covenant is “discarding” the Old Covenant as something of no value. The Old Covenant contains many divine principles of life and salvation that remain important; and so highly does the New Covenant regard these principles that it quotes them in its own covenant (cf. Romans 13:8-10; 1Co 9:9). We are obligated to obey them, however, not because the Old Covenant is still legally valid, but because only the New Covenant is legally valid and has incorporated these particular Old Covenant principles. THAT is what the Church has continually taught since its inception. Conversely, the USCCB’s denial of supersessionism is a perversion of that truth and, in fact, a heresy.
The USCCB also cites Nostra Aetate as its source to confirm its denial of supersessionism, but it doesn’t cite a statement from Nostra Aetate to that effect. This is not unusual. It is common in these liberal environs to cite Nostra Aetate and assume it says certain things amenable to their modernistic view of things, but either the words of Nostra Aetate are not cited or, if they are cited, they are almost always misinterpreted or taken out of context. Nostra Aetate does not teach against legal supersessionism. Rather, Nostra Aetate, as did the rest of Church tradition, teaches that there is a remaining practical value of the Old Covenant as a guide for faith and morals today but that the Old Covenant no longer has any legal validity.
The USCCB also misinterpreted the words of John Paul II: “the meeting between the people of God of the Old Covenant, never revoked by God, is at the same time a dialogue within our Church, that is to say, a dialogue between the first and second part of its Bible.” Although it is easy to see why John Paul II’s rather ambiguous words could be misinterpreted, the fact is, if the USCCB wants to insist that John Paul II was saying that the Old Covenant of the Jewish people under Moses was not revoked, then the USCCB just made John Paul II a heretic, since, as we saw above, Tradition, Scripture and the Magisterium have all stated that the Old Covenant is revoked.
So, despite his ambiguous language, what could John Paul II have meant? No more than what the words of his sentence contain, that is, the Old Covenant contains the “first” part of the Bible, and since the Old Testament, as a written document available for the people of God today to use as a guide to faith and morals, has not been destroyed or taken out of existence, then obviously God has not “revoked” those things that we use from it. But this in no way means that the Old Covenant has legal force over us today such that we must insist that Jews and Gentiles obey all its legal stipulations under penalty of death (Heb 10:28). We are only to consult the Old Covenant for its ethical and spiritual principles, and the Church decides which of these principles it will incorporate and which it will exclude from the New Covenant. END
USCCB (7): Another misunderstanding rejected by the Second Vatican Council was the notion of collective guilt, which charged the Jewish people as a whole with responsibility for Jesus' death (cf. nos. 21-25 below, on Holy Week). From the theory of collective guilt, it followed for some that Jewish suffering over the ages reflected divine retribution on the Jews for an alleged "deicide." While both rabbinic Judaism and early Christianity saw in the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in A.D. 70 a sense of divine punishment (see Lk 19:42-44), the theory of collective guilt went well beyond Jesus' poignant expression of his love as a Jew for Jerusalem and the destruction it would face at the hands of Imperial Rome. Collective guilt implied that because "the Jews" had rejected Jesus, God had rejected them. With direct reference to Luke 19:44, the Second Vatican Council reminded Catholics that "nevertheless, now as before, God holds the Jews most dear for the sake of their fathers; he does not repent of the gifts he makes or of the calls he issues," and established as an overriding hermeneutical principle for homilists dealing with such passages that "the Jews should not be represented as rejected by God or accursed, as if this followed from Holy Scripture" (Nostra Aetate, no. 4; cf. 1985 Notes, VI:33).
R. Sungenis: This is a confused mixture of true and false ideas, with a few crucial ingredients missing. What the USCCB fails to do is make the proper distinctions between God’s rejection of the nation of Israel from God’s desire for the Jewish people to accept the salvation he offers them in Jesus Christ. When Christ died on the cross, God rejected the Jewish nation from being his representative on earth. They were no longer his chosen nation or his chosen people. In that sense God, indeed, rejected the Jews. They were replaced by the New Testament Church. But God did not reject the Jewish people insofar as salvation is concerned. Every Jew, then and today, has the opportunity to receive salvation. Despite their unfaithfulness to God throughout the Old Testament, God did not totally forsake the Jews. In fact, the first members of the New Testament Church were Jews – Jews who accepted the Gospel of Jesus Christ and received salvation in Him. This point is clarified well by St. Paul in his first two verses of Romans 11. He states what the USCCB left out. Paul says that the evidence we have for God not rejecting the Jewish people is seen in the fact of his own salvation, for if God had totally rejected the Jews, then not even Paul could be saved. Paul does not say that God’s allowance for the Jews to be saved includes an acceptance of either the nation of Israel or a continuing legal validity for the Old Covenant. It only involves whether God continues to give the Jews the opportunity to receive salvation.
As regards the idea of “collective guilt,” we will address that momentarily.
The USCCB also fails to correctly exegete and understand Romans 11:29. In an attempt to tone down the reality of Luke 19:44 that speaks of the destruction of Israel due to their unbelief, the USCCB quotes Romans 11:29 using Vatican II’s wording: "nevertheless, now as before, God holds the Jews most dear for the sake of their fathers; he does not repent of the gifts he makes or of the calls he issues." Apparently, the USCCB wants to use this verse as a proof text for the idea that the Jews retain their Old Covenant with God, but this is fallacious. Romans 11:29 and its surrounding context says nothing at all about the preserving of the Old Covenant of the Jewish nation. The context is concerned only with the offer of salvation to the Jews and whether Jews will attain that salvation. In fact, the whole chapter of Romans 11 is concerned with nothing more than whether the Jews, in light of their almost total unbelief in the Old Testament, will finally hear and believe the Gospel. In essence, St. Paul is saying the same thing in Romans 11:29 that he said in Romans 11:1-2, that is, because of his promise to the Fathers (Abraham, Moses), God is still giving the Jews the opportunity to receive salvation, which is his “gift and call” to the Jews that will not be revoked. But the USCCB fails to see this truth since they come to Romans 11 with their ecumenical agenda. In fact, except for two quotes from previous Church documents containing the word “salvation,” the USCCB doesn’t employ the words “salvation” or “saved” in any of its directives to homilists in its entire 32 paragraphs of this essay.
USCCB (8): Reasons for increased sensitivity to the ways in which Jews and Judaism are presented in homilies are multiple. First, understanding of the biblical readings and of the structure of Catholic liturgy will be enhanced by an appreciation of their ancient sources and their continuing spiritual links with Judaism. The Christian proclamation of the saving deeds of the One God through Jesus was formed in the context of Second Temple Judaism and cannot be understood thoroughly without that context. It is a proclamation that, at its heart, stands in solidarity with the continuing Jewish witness in affirming the One God as Lord of history. Further, false or demeaning portraits of a repudiated Israel may undermine Christianity as well. How can one confidently affirm the truth of God's covenant with all humanity and creation in Christ (see Rom 8:21) without at the same time affirming God's faithfulness to the Covenant with Israel that also lies at the heart of the biblical testimony?
R. Sungenis: Again, we see the same mixture of confusion and heretical ideas. The USCCB is trying to promote the idea that just because the Jews believe in “One God as Lord of history,” this somehow puts them in solidarity with us. This is not uncommon in post-Vatican II theology. The lowest common denominator is used to boost ecumenical efforts. The push has been to promote “monotheism” so that we have a common enemy in polytheism. But Catholic Tradition, Scripture and the Magisterium say no, resoundingly. The issue is: what do you do with Jesus Christ, not whether you believe in “One God as Lord of history.” This One God of history has made it crystal clear in Scripture that if you don’t accept his Son, Jesus Christ, then you don’t accept the One God as Lord of history. The Gospel of John is replete with this exclusive truth. You cannot have the “One God” without Jesus Christ. The “One God” will draw those to Jesus Christ whom He intends to save, and thus if you do not have Jesus Christ you do not have the “One God.” If you claim to have the “One God” and you reject Jesus Christ, then you are of the devil, as Jesus said to the Jews of his day.
Notice also that the USCCB speaks of us “affirming God's faithfulness to the Covenant with Israel.” This just begs the question: what “Covenant” does the USCCB have in mind? Where does Scripture, Tradition and the Magisterium teach that the Jews continue to have a “Covenant” with God? The reality is, the USCCB got on the wrong track when it denied the doctrine of supersessionism, for then it did it denied that the Old Covenant was superseded and abrogated by the New Covenant. Again, it’s the same reason why the USCCB said on page 131 of its 2006 catechism that the Jews still retain the Mosaic covenant. That heresy was directly related to the heresy that started in this 1988 paper.
USCCB (9): As Catholic homilists know, the liturgical year presents both opportunities and challenges. One can show the parallels between the Jewish and Catholic liturgical cycles. And one can, with clarity, confront misinterpretations of the meaning of the lectionary readings, which have been too familiar in the past. Specifically, homilists can guide people away from a triumphalism that would equate the pilgrim Church with the Reign of God, which is the Church's mission to herald and proclaim. Likewise, homilists can confront the unconscious transmission of anti-Judaism through clichés that derive from an unhistorical overgeneralization of the self-critical aspects of the story of Israel as told in the Scriptures (e.g., "hardheartedness" of the Jews, 'blindness," "legalism," "materialism," "rejection of Jesus," etc.). From Advent through Passover/Easter, to Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashana, the Catholic and Jewish liturgical cycles spiral around one another in a stately progression of challenges to God's people to repent, to remain faithful to God's call, and to prepare the world for the coming of God's Reign. While each is distinct and unique, they are related to one another. Christianity is engrafted on and continues to draw sustenance from the common root, biblical Israel (Rom 11:13-24).
R. Sungenis: Notice how the USCCB attempts to minimize both the historic and contemporary disbelief of the Jews. It first tries to make a case that the references to Jewish “hardheartedness” “blindness,” “legalism,” “materialism,” “rejection of Jesus,” are merely “self-critical” assessments by the Jews themselves that were, in reality, merely “unhistorical overgeneralizations.” In other words, we can’t trust either Jesus or the Scriptures when they tell us of that the Jews were “hardhearted” since these Scriptures were written by Jews who exaggerated Jewish unbelief because of some uncontrollable scrupulosity. And this exaggeration of Jewish guilt has thus caused an “unconscious transmission of anti-Judaism.” So the USCCB wants us to believe that “anti-Judaism” has nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that the Jews, then and now, disbelieve in Jesus Christ. No, it is all our fault for not understanding that the Jewish writers of Scripture lied to us about Jewish unbelief. In reality, the only lie that is being told here is the one perpetrated by the USCCB. Jesus told us the truth about the Jews, and the biblical writers who wrote down His words in Scripture were inspired by the Holy Spirit to do so, and there were no additions or subtractions or exaggerations; only what the Holy Spirit, Who cannot lie, wanted us to know. The USCCB not only has a distorted concept of the Jews, it also has a distorted concept of Scripture and its transmission.
The USCCB also says “Christianity is engrafted on and continues to draw sustenance from the common root, biblical Israel (Rom 11:13-24),” giving the impression by the word “continues” that Christianity draws spiritual truths from Judaism. First of all, it is highly debatable what the “root” of St. Paul’s metaphor in Romans 11 refers to. Many of the Fathers said it referred to Jesus Christ, since Paul had already referred to the Jews as “branches that were broken off” in Rm 11:17, not the root. Nowhere does Paul say what the USCCB says, that is, that the root is “biblical Israel.” If the root has anything to do with the Jews, it could possibly refer to Abraham from whose stock both Jews and Gentiles came (cf. Gal 3:6-29; Rm 4:1-22), not to the Jews themselves. Whatever the case, the USCCB’s interpretation is just another distortion of Scripture. We don’t draw “sustenance” from “biblical Israel,” whatever that ambiguous term means. We draw our sustenance from Jesus Christ and those, like Abraham and Moses, who believed in Him as their coming messiah (cf. John 8:56; Hb 11:24-26). In other words, our sustenance is from Jesus, not the Jews.
USCCB (10): In this respect, the 1985 Notes, stressing "the unity of the divine plan" (no. 11), caution against a simplistic framing of the relationship of Christianity and Judaism as "two parallel ways of salvation" (no. 7). The Church proclaims the universal salvific significance of the Christ-event and looks forward to the day when "there shall be one flock and one shepherd" (Jn 10:16; cf. Is 66:2; Zep 3:9; Jet 23:3; Ez 11:17; see also no. 31e below). So intimate is this relationship that the Church "encounters the mystery of Israel" when "pondering her own mystery" (1974 Guidelines, no. 5).
R. Sungenis: Notice how the USCCB again seeks to minimize the differences between Christianity and Judaism. It quotes the 1985 notes which advise merely “caution” against the idea of two parallel ways of salvation. The vague and ambiguous word “caution” implies that one can examine the issue but continue in his original direction if he sees no danger, as if one were driving to an intersection and the light turns yellow (which means “caution”) but still decide to go safely through the intersection. In regards to salvation, “caution” is not the word to use, since there is no possibility that there could be two ways of salvation. If anyone one proposes two ways of salvation, one for Christians and one for Jews, it is heretical, pure and simple. It is not “caution” that should be advised but outright rejection. END
Advent: The Relationship between the Scriptures
USCCB (11): The lectionary readings from the prophets are selected to bring out the ancient Christian theme that Jesus is the "fulfillment" of the biblical message of hope and promise, the inauguration of the "days to come" described, for example, by the daily Advent Masses, and on Sundays by Isaiah in cycle A and Jeremiah in cycle C for the First Sunday of Advent. This truth needs to be framed very carefully. Christians believe that Jesus is the promised Messiah who has come (see Lk 4:22), but also know that his messianic kingdom is not yet fully realized. The ancient messianic prophecies are not merely temporal predictions but profound expressions of eschatological hope. Since this dimension can be misunderstood or even missed altogether, the homilist needs to raise clearly the hope found in the prophets and heightened in the proclamation of Christ. This hope includes trust in what is promised but not yet seen. While the biblical prophecies of an age of universal shalom are "fulfilled" (i.e., irreversibly inaugurated) in Christ's coming, that fulfillment is not yet completely worked out in each person's life or perfected in the world at large (1974 Guidelines, no. 2). It is the mission of the Church, as also that of the Jewish people, to proclaim and to work to prepare the world for the full flowering of God's Reign, which is, but is "not yet" (cf. 1974 Guidelines, II). Both the Christian "Our Father" and the Jewish Kaddish exemplify this message. Thus, both Christianity and Judaism seal their worship with a common hope: "Thy kingdom come!"
R. Sungenis: No, the “Jewish people” have no mandate from God to “proclaim and to work to prepare the world for the full flowering of God's Reign.” This is heresy. Unless a Jew converts and is baptized into the Christian faith, the only mandate he has from God is to reject his Judaism, repent of his sins of disbelief in Jesus Christ, and convert to Christianity. The USCCB is again trying to form a basis for legitimizing Judaism by making it appear as if we worship the same “Father” and are seeking the same “kingdom.” This is absurd. The Jews are seeking for a kingdom that is not led by Jesus Christ, since they do not believe he is the Son of God. They are looking for another messiah, not Jesus Christ. As such, they do not believe in the same “Father” as we do, because our Father is the Father of Jesus Christ, and Him alone. Jesus Christ taught his apostles the “Our Father” prayer specifically because the plural “Our” included Jesus Christ. Any other “Our Father” prayer is anti-Christ and anti-Christianity.
USCCB (12): Christians proclaim that the Messiah has indeed come and that God's Reign is "at hand." With the Jewish people, we await the complete realization of the messianic age.
In underlining the eschatological dimension of Christianity, we shall reach a greater awareness that the people of God of the Old and the New Testament are tending toward a like end in the future: the coming or return of the Messiah--even if they start from two different points of view (1985 Notes, nos. 18-19).
R. Sungenis: No, this is erroneous. As noted above, the Jewish people are not looking for Jesus Christ as their messiah. Jesus Christ is of the devil, according to the Jews. The Jews are looking for a messiah that has not yet come; another messiah other than Jesus Christ. The only Jews who are looking for Jesus Christ at the Second Coming are those in the Old Testament that had the faith of Abraham, the same Abraham who Jesus said was looking for the First Coming of Jesus (John 8:56).
USCCB (13): Other difficulties may be less theologically momentous but can still be troublesome. For example, the reading from Baruch in cycle C or from Isaiah in cycle A for the Second Sunday of Advent can leave the impression that pre-Jesus Israel was wholly guilt-ridden and in mourning, and Judaism virtually moribund. In fact, in their original historical settings, such passages reveal Judaism's remarkable capacity for self-criticism. While Israel had periods of deep mourning (see Lamentations) and was justly accused of sinfulness (e.g., see Jeremiah), it also experienced periods of joy, return from Exile, and continuing teshuvah, turning back to God in faithful repentance. Judaism was and is incredibly complex and vital, with a wide variety of creative spiritual movements vying for the people's adherence.
R. Sungenis: No, Judaism WAS vital, not IS vital, since we understand that the religion of the Jews in the Old Testament was legitimate, but the “Judaism” of today is not legitimate but is a heretical and apostate religion of the world that has little or nothing to do with Christianity.
USCCB (14): The reform of the liturgy initiated by the Second Vatican Council reintroduced regular readings from the Old Testament into the lectionary. For Catholics, the Old Testament is that collection that contains the Hebrew Scriptures and the seven deuterocanonical books. Using postbiblical Jewish sources, with respect for the essential differences between Christian and Jewish traditions of biblical interpretation, can enliven the approach to the biblical text (cf. nos. 3la and 31i below). The opportunity also presents a challenge for the homilist. Principles of selection of passages vary. Sometimes the readings are cyclic, providing a continuity of narrative over a period of time. At other times, especially during Advent and Lent, a reading from the prophets or one of the historical books of the Old Testament and a gospel pericope are "paired," based on such liturgical traditions as the sensus plenior (fuller meaning) or, as is especially the case in Ordinary Time, according to the principle of typology, in which biblical figures and events are seen as "types" prefiguring Jesus (see no. 31e below).
R. Sungenis: Using typology to prefigure Jesus is perfectly legitimate, but “postbiblical Jewish sources” do not use typology to prefigure Jesus. They use it to prefigure another messiah that is not Jesus Christ.
USCCB (15): Many of these pairings represent natural associations of similar events and teachings. Others rely on New Testament precedent and interpretation of the messianic psalms and prophetic passages. Matthew 1:23, for example, quotes the Septuagint, which translates the Hebrew almah (young woman) as the Greek for virgin in its rendering of Isaiah 7:14. The same biblical text, therefore, can have more than one valid hermeneutical interpretation, ranging from its original historical context and intent to traditional Christological applications. The 1985 Notes describe this phenomenon as flowing from the "unfathomable riches" and "inexhaustible content" of the Hebrew Bible. For Christians, the unity of the Bible depends on understanding all Scripture in the light of Christ. Typology is one form, rooted in the New Testament itself, of expressing this unity of Scripture and of the divine plan (see no. 31e below). As such, it "should not lead us to forget that it [the Hebrew Bible] retains its own value as Revelation that the New Testament often does no more than resume" (1985 Notes, no. 15; cf. Dei Verbum, 14-18). Lent: Controversies and Conflicts
R. Sungenis: The USCCB’s attempt here is to make it appear as if the Jews of today can have their own independent interpretations of Old Testament prophecy that do not point to Jesus Christ. For example, if the Old Testament speaks about Christ coming in Bethlehem, the Jews don’t have to accept this as referring to Jesus Christ. Likewise, Isaiah 53’s reference to the “suffering servant” can be interpreted such that the Jews see themselves in this prophecy, not Christ. This is what liberal theology has been teaching for over a hundred years. They cleverly try to give legitimacy to this new-fangled interpretation by using the relationship between Isaiah 7:14 and Matthew 1:23. Since few Christians might argue against an interpretation that sees ALMAH as referring to a young woman in Israel but ultimately as a prophecy of Christ fulfilled in Matthew 1:23, a similar kind of dualism is applied to other passages. In the end, the Jews can have their own interpretation and the Christians can have theirs. Thus, Jews can interpret prophecies about a coming messiah as referring only to a messiah that would come at the end of the world and not 2000 years ago in Bethlehem; and they can interpret prophecies of the “restoration of Israel” (e.g., Ezk 36-38) as referring to the literal nation of Israel and the Jewish people and not as a spiritual prophecy of the New Testament Church. The Church has never taught these things. It has never taught that these particular Scriptures can be interpreted to allow the Jews to have a restored kingdom in Israel; and it has never taught that the Jews could use Isaiah 7:14 to bypass the first coming of Christ. It is the invention of Catholic liberals in the 20th century.
Additionally, the idea that Isaiah 7:14 only refers to a young woman (imply that this woman could have already had relations with man) is not provable. It may exclusively refer to a virgin, and thus would apply directl to Mary. Jewish apologists have long argued that if Isaiah 7:14 referred to a virgin then Isaiah would have used the Hebrew word bethulah (hlwtb), a more specific Hebrew term for a virgin. But upon closer examination we find this is not the case: (a) as almah (hmle) is used seven times in the Hebrew bible (Gen. 24:43; Ex. 2:8; Ps. 68:25; Pr. 30:19; Song. 1;3; 6:8; Is. 7:14), in no passage does the context refer to a woman who is married or has had sexual relations, hence, the word could easily be used of Mary; and (b) many of the seven passages specifically indicate that almah refers to an unmarried woman who has had no sexual relations. For example, in Gen. 24:43, almah is used of Rebecca before she is married to Isaac. Yet in the same context (Gen. 24:16), Rebecca is also referred to as a bethulah (“An exceedingly beautiful maid, a virgin, and not known to man”). The interchange of almah and bethulah shows that the former was also understood as a virgin. Additionally, Rebecca is also called a naarah (hren) (“maid”) in the same passage, which is used elsewhere to designate a virgin (e.g., Deut. 22:15-29 in which the husband suspects his wife was not a virgin prior to marriage). Not surprisingly, naarah and bethulah are also interchanged (Deut. 22:23, 28; Judg. 21:12; 1Kg. 1:2; Sir. 2:3).
USCCB (16): The Lenten lectionary presents just as many challenges. Prophetic texts such as Joel (Ash Wednesday), Jeremiah's "new covenant" (cycle B, Fifth Sunday), and Isaiah (cycle C, Fifth Sunday) call the assembly to proclaim Jesus as the Christ while avoiding negativism toward Judaism.
R. Sungenis: I don’t know precisely what the USCCB means by the word “negativism” but I have the feeling it refers to looking at Judaism as an illegitimate religion that is against Christianity. The USCCB is desperately trying to dispel that notion. In its view, modern day Judaism is just another viable religion that sees the “One God as Lord of history” and “Our Father” as referring to the same Lord and Father Christians believe in. This is false. The God of Judaism is not the God of Christianity for the simple fact that Judaism denies that Jesus Christ is God. There is no further discussion.
USCCB (17): In addition, many of the New Testament texts, such as Matthew's references to "hypocrites in the synagogue" (Ash Wednesday), John's depiction of Jesus in the Temple (cycle B, Third Sunday), and Jesus' conflicts with the Pharisees (e.g., Lk, cycle C, Fourth Sunday) can give the impression that the Judaism of Jesus' day was devoid of spiritual depth and essentially at odds with Jesus' teaching. References to earlier divine punishments of the Jews (e.g., 1 Cor, cycle C, Third Sunday) can further intensify a false image of Jews and Judaism as a people rejected by God.
R. Sungenis: The USCCB is confusing the issue. The Old Testament religion of Moses was legitimate because God gave it to Moses. By the time of Jesus Christ, however, the Jews had sufficiently perverted the religion of Moses into legalism; and the legalism was further perverted into outright hypocrisy and blatant sin. It was the same perversion that the Jews created in the 8th century BC (which then prompted God to use the Assyrians to destroy the Jews) and the 6th century BC (which then prompted God to use the Babylonian to destroy the Jews). In the days of Jesus and the apostles, God used the Romans to destroy the Jews for their sins. It was at this point that God did, indeed, reject the Jews as his chosen nation. The Jewish nation would no longer be the legal custodian of God’s word. That privilege was transferred to the Church, which was spread to all the nations of the world. Contrary to what the USCCB is teaching, “Judaism” was rejected by God and replaced with Christianity. But Jewish people, according to St. Paul in Romans 11, still had the opportunity to receive salvation, and therefore it could be equally said that God had not totally rejected his people whom he foreknew. This distinction is crucial, but the USCCB misses it every time.
USCCB (18): In fact, however, as the 1985 Notes are at pains to clarify (sec. III and IV), Jesus was observant of the Torah (e.g., in the details of his circumcision and purification given in Lk 2:21-24), he extolled respect for it (see Mt 5:17-20), and he invited obedience to it (see Mt 8:4). Jesus taught in the synagogues (see Mt 4:23 and 9:35; Lk 4:15-18; Jn 18:20) and in the Temple, which he frequented, as did the disciples even after the Resurrection (see Acts 2:46; 3:lff). While Jesus showed uniqueness and authority in his interpretation of God's word in the Torah--in a manner that scandalized some Jews and impressed others---he did not oppose it, nor did he wish to abrogate it.
R. Sungenis: This is more confusion. The USCCB is trying to give the impression that since Jesus obeyed the Torah and was circumcised, then those Jewish beliefs can be practiced by Jews after Jesus, and especially because Jesus did not abrogate the Torah. This is a clever argument, but it won’t work. Jesus lived the prescriptions of the Torah and did not abrogate them because Jesus lived on the Old Testament side of the Cross, and as such, he was required to obey all its precepts and not do away with them (unless, of course, Jesus reminded the Jews of a higher law of God that came before the Mosaic law, such as Jesus’ treatment of the Mosaic divorce law in Matthew 19:1-9). But after Jesus died and rose again, the Old Covenant he lived under was indeed abrogated and replaced by the New Covenant. That fact is precisely why the veil of the Temple was miraculously torn in two the moment Jesus died. It signified the legal end of the Jewish religion. Jews may have continued to practice their religion after the Cross, but it had no legal or covenantal standing with God.
USCCB (19): Jesus was perhaps closer to the Pharisees in his religious vision than to any other group of his time. The 1985 Notes suggest that this affinity with Pharisaism may be a reason for many of his apparent controversies with them (see no. 27). Jesus shared with the Pharisees a number of distinctive doctrines: the resurrection of the body; forms of piety such as almsgiving, daily prayer, and fasting; the liturgical practice of addressing God as Father; and the priority of the love commandment (see no. 25). Many scholars are of the view that Jesus was not so much arguing against "the Pharisees" as a group, as he was condemning excesses of some Pharisees, excesses of a sort that can be found among some Christians as well. In some cases, Jesus appears to have been participating in internal Pharisaic debates on various points of interpretation of God's law. In the case of divorce (see Mk 10:2-12), an issue that was debated hotly between the Pharisaic schools of Hillel and Shammai, Jesus goes beyond even the more stringent position of the House of Shammai. In other cases, such as the rejection of a literal interpretation of the lex taIionis ("An eye for an eye .... "), Jesus' interpretation of biblical law is similar to that found in some of the prophets and ultimately adopted by rabbinic tradition as can be seen in the Talmud.
R. Sungenis: This is typical of liberal and modernistic interpretations, that is, an attempt to exonerate the Pharisees as respectable practitioners of the Mosaic law and to dispel the notion that most of them were hypocrites. Unfortunately for the USCCB, the New Testament reveals no such evidence. The Pharisees, to a man, rejected Jesus’ claims that he was the messiah prophesied in the Old Testament. The only exceptions were people like Nicodemus, but they were few. It is equally false for the USCCB to give the impression that Jesus’ interpretation of biblical law was adopted by the rabbinic tradition in the Talmud. This is blasphemous. The Talmud states that Jesus is accursed and in hell. Obviously, the Talmud cannot have the same interpretation of “the prophets” as Jesus did, since the prophets foresaw Jesus as the messiah, which the Talmud rejected. Although there may have been some overlap between Jesus and the Pharisees (e.g., the resurrection) these were minimal, at best. According to the four Gospels, the Pharisees rejected almost everything that came out of the mouth of Jesus. If the USCCB sees otherwise, I challenge it to show us the evidence.
USCCB (20): After the Church had distanced itself from Judaism (cf. no. 5 above), it tended to telescope the long historical process whereby the gospels were set down some generations after Jesus' death. Thus, certain controversies that may actually have taken place between church leaders and rabbis toward the end of the first century were "read back" into the life of Jesus:
Some [New Testament] references hostile or less than favorable to Jews have their historical context in conflicts between the nascent Church and the Jewish community. Certain controversies reflect Christian-Jewish relations long after the time of Jesus. To establish this is of capital importance if we wish to bring out the meaning of certain gospel texts for the Christians of today. All this should be taken into account when preparing catechesis and homilies for the weeks of Lent and Holy Week (1985 Notes, no. 29; see no. 26 below).
R. Sungenis: No, the Gospels were not written “some generations after Jesus’ death.” This is the unproven assertion of Historical Criticism that has been used against the veracity of the Gospel accounts since the liberal Protestants from Europe had introduced it in the 19th and 20th centuries (Bultmann, Barth, Bruner, Heidigger, et al). The tradition of the Catholic Church has always taught that the Gospels were written by eyewitnesses, namely, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The reason liberals want to make it appear as if the Gospels were written by “some generations after Jesus” is so that they can make the claim that the Gospels contain historical mistakes and exaggerations, since the people who wrote the Gospels did not actually see what took place in Jesus’ day. This ploy works well with the Jewish bent of the USCCB. If they can make it appear as if the negativism of Jesus and Paul toward the Jews is merely a product of some redacted text authored by some unknown person many decades later, then the USCCB can have a legitimate excuse for saying that those redacted texts are unreliable and filled with the animosity that existed between Christians and Jews many decades later. This is why most liberals claim that the Gospels were not written until 80 to 100 AD, and some trying to push it off till the second century. The further out they can place the writing of the Gospels, the more they can claim that the Gospels contain lies and exaggerations about the Jews.
Holy Week: The Passion Narratives
USCCB (21): Because of the tragic history of the "Christ-killer" charge as providing a rallying cry for anti-Semites over the centuries, a strong and careful homiletic stance is necessary to combat its lingering effects today. Homilists and catechists should seek to provide a proper context for the proclamation of the passion narratives. A particularly useful and detailed discussion of the theological and historical principles involved in presentations of the passions can be found in Criteria for the Evaluation of Dramatizations of the Passion issued by the Bishops' Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs (March 1988).
USCCB (22): The message of the liturgy in proclaiming the passion narratives in full is to enable the assembly to see vividly the love of Christ for each person, despite their sins, a love that even death could not vanquish. "Christ in his boundless love freely underwent his passion and death because of the sins of all so that all might attain salvation" (Nostra Aetate, no. 4). To the extent that Christians over the centuries made Jews the scapegoat for Christ's death, they drew themselves away from the paschal mystery. For it is only by dying to one's sins that we can hope to rise with Christ to new life. This is a central truth of the Catholic faith stated by the Catechism of the Council of Trent in the sixteenth century and reaffirmed by the 1985 Notes (no. 30).
R. Sungenis: Although there are certainly extremists who hate Jews because they view them as “Christ-killers,” the USCCB goes too far the other way in trying to exonerate Jews from having a hand in the death of Christ. There is a movement today among Jews (e.g., Jewish author Paula Fredriksen in Augustine and the Jews) that seeks to make the Romans the sole culprits for Jesus’ death. Between these two extremes, the New Testament is quite clear that the Jews hold the major responsibility for Christ’s death. If anyone is exonerated, the New Testament chooses Pilate, not the Jews of that day (see Acts 3:14-15). Although the USCCB tries to prove its viewpoint by saying that Christ died “because of the sins of all” this is an out-of-context comment that is not germane to the specific issue at hand. The specific issue is: who instigated and pressed for the death of Christ at the time he was killed, and why did they do so? The New Testament’s simple answer is: the Jews instigated his death and did so out of envy and hatred of Him (cf. Mt 27:18), and because he claimed to be the Son of God (John 8:31-59). The Bible couldn’t be any clearer.
USCCB (23): It is necessary to remember that the passion narratives do not offer eyewitness accounts or a modern transcript of historical events. Rather, the events have had their meaning focused, as it were, through the four theological "lenses" of the gospels. By comparing what is shared and what distinguishes the various gospel accounts from each other, the homilist can discern the core from the particular optics of each. One can then better see the significant theological differences between the passion narratives. These differences also are part of the inspired Word of God.
R. Sungenis: Here again is the same unproven thesis from Historical Criticism that we saw the USCCB use in Paragraph 20, namely, that the Gospels were not written by eyewitnesses to the events but by “some generations after Jesus’ death.” Perhaps the USCCB doesn’t realize that it has just contradicted itself, since in para. 9 it had claimed that the negative remarks against the Jews were made by “self-critical” and scrupulous Jews, but now they are claiming that these remarks were made by Christian Gentiles many decades after Jesus who had animosity towards Jews. So which is it? These kinds of contradictions surface because both are simply made-up excuses not to accept Scripture for what it actually says. Be that as it may, the USCCB is forced to admit that the “differences” among the four Gospels “are part of the inspired Word of God.” This implies that the “differences” are so great that one could call into question the veracity of one author over another, giving the USCCB yet a third tier of excuses to explain away the veracity of the New Testament’s remarks against the Jews. But this third tier is as bogus as the first two. The Synoptics, John and Acts (written by Luke) all agree that the Jews were responsible for instigating the death of Christ and the Pilate tried to release Jesus but was refused by the Jews.
USCCB (24): Certain historical essentials are shared by all four accounts: a growing hostility against Jesus on the part of some Jewish religious leaders (note that the Synoptic gospels do not mention the Pharisees as being involved in the events leading to Jesus' death, but only the "chief priests, scribes, and elders"); the Last Supper with the disciples; betrayal by Judas; arrest outside the city (an action conducted covertly by the Roman and Temple authorities because of Jesus' popularity among his fellow Jews); interrogation before a high priest (not necessarily a Sanhedrin trial); formal condemnation by Pontius Pilate (cf. the Apostles' and Nicene Creeds, which mention only Pilate, even though some Jews were involved); crucifixion by Roman soldiers; affixing the title "King of the Jews" on the cross; death; burial; and resurrection. Many other elements, such as the crowds shouting "His blood be on us and on our children" in Matthew, or the generic use of the term "the Jews" in John, are unique to a given author and must be understood within the context of that author's overall theological scheme. Often, these unique elements reflect the perceived needs and emphases of the author's particular community at the end of the first century, after the split between Jews and Christians was well underway. The bitterness toward synagogue Judaism seen in John's gospel (e.g., Jn 9:22;16:2) most likely reflects the bitterness felt by John's own community after its "parting of the ways" with the Jewish community, and the martyrdom of St. Stephen illustrates that verbal disputes could, at times, lead to violence by Jews against fellow Jews who believed in Jesus.
R. Sungenis: More confusion and misrepresentations. First, although the Synoptic gospels do not specifically mention the Pharisees in the events leading to Jesus’ death, the Pharisees are not left out of the events leading to the events concerning Jesus’ death (cf. Mt 22:15-41; 23:2-29; Mk 12:13). Why does the USCCB try to isolate the Synoptics? Because, as we saw earlier, they are trying to exonerate the Pharisees as an innocent party that were more in agreement with Jesus than against him. This is totally bogus, since the Synoptics are quite clear that whenever the opportunity arose the Pharisees were trying to trap Jesus into saying something wrong so they could condemn him. Moreover, John’s Gospel is clear that the Pharisees were indeed involved in the events leading to Jesus’ death (John 18:3), and thus we can understand why the USCCB attempts to leave John out of the mix. Apparently, the USCCB would rather make the Gospel writers disagree with one another than admit that the Pharisees were enemies of Jesus.
We see this attempt more clearly in the USCCB’s claim that Matthew’s mention of “his blood be on us and our children” is merely due to Matthew’s idiosyncratic “theological scheme,” suggesting that either Matthew or one of his followers added the blood curse because he wanted to send a theological message, but that the statement either was never said or was quite different than the way it ended up being recorded in the Gospel of Matthew. How is this possible? In the same way the USCCB stated earlier concerning the writers that came “some generations after Jesus’ death,” that is, Matthew didn’t write it, only this time the USCCB is more detailed, claiming:
“Often, these unique elements reflect the perceived needs and emphases of the author's particular community at the end of the first century, after the split between Jews and Christians was well underway.”
In other words, the USCCB is claiming there existed a “particular community” of Christians at around 80 to 100 AD who were followers of the Matthew tradition who deliberately put words in the mouth of the Jews such as “let his blood be on us and our children” simply because they had animosity toward the Jews; which is to say that the blame for the blood curse is attributed to Gentile Christians who chose to lie about the Jews rather than attributing it to the Jews who shouted at Pilate to crucify Jesus – a complete reversal of the face value reading of the Gospels. The USCCB attempts to do the same with John’s Gospel. Instead of the face value understanding we get from John that his use of the phrase “the Jews” is to show that many Jews during that day were the enemies of Christ, the USCCB would have us believe that the “John community” of Gentile Christians in the late first century deliberately added words to John’s original Gospel that made it appear as if “the Jews” were the enemy of Christ. So, in the end, in paras. 21 & 22 the USCCB ends up saying that the Jews were not responsible for the death of Christ, and in paras. 23 & 24 that the Jews, by and large, were not even enemies of Christ. This, of course, is a total repudiation of our traditional Catholic teaching, not to mention a frontal assault on the historical veracity of the four Gospels.
USCCB (25): Christian reflection on the passion should lead to a deep sense of the need for reconciliation with the Jewish community today. Pope John Paul II has said:
Considering history in the light of the principles of faith in God, we must also reflect on the catastrophic event of the Shoah ....
Considering this mystery of the suffering of Israel's children, their witness of hope, of faith, and of humanity under dehumanizing outrages, the Church experiences ever more deeply her common bond with the Jewish people and with their treasure of spiritual riches in the past and in the present" (Address to Jewish Leadership, Miami, September 11, 1987).
R. Sungenis: Of course, now we see where all this rewriting of the Gospels is leading – to force the Christian community to feel guilty for what the Gospels have said about the Jews. Christians are required to admit that the Gospels were wrong about the Jews, which consensus will now serve to restore the Jews to the graces of God in the eyes of the world since they had little or nothing to do with the death of Christ, nor was their nation ever cursed because of Jewish disobedience. All of this, of course, is a bold-faced lie, and the USCCB of 1988 was its perpetrator.
The Easter Season
USCCB (26): The readings of the Easter season, especially those from the book of Acts, which is used extensively throughout this liturgical period, require particular attention from the homilist in light of the enduring bond between Jews and Christians. Some of these readings from Acts (e.g., cycles A and B for the Third and Fourth Sundays of Easter) can leave an impression of collective Jewish responsibility for the crucifixion ("You put to death the author of life .... "Acts 3:15). In such cases, the homilist should put before the assembly the teachings of Nostra Aetate in this regard (see no. 22 above), as well as the fact noted in Acts 3:17 that what was done by some individual Jews was done "out of ignorance" so that no unwarranted conclusion about collective guilt is drawn by the hearers. The Acts may be dealing with a reflection of the Jewish-Christian relationship as it existed toward the end of the first century (when Acts was composed) rather than with the actual attitudes of the post-Easter Jerusalem Church. Homilists should desire to convey the spirit and enthusiasm of the early Church that marks these Easter season readings. But in doing so, statements about Jewish responsibility have to be kept in context. This is part of the reconciliation between Jews and Christians to which we are all called.
R. Sungenis: So now we see that not only does the USCCB claim the four Gospels were rewritten by late first century Christians who did so because they had animosity toward the Jews, but the book of Acts was also written by these same grudge-filled Christians who resorted to lies about the Jews rather than tell the truth of history. Oh, but wait a minute. We also find that when a statement in Acts can be used to the advantage of the USCCB’s claims, the USCCB doesn’t hesitate to view that statement as historically accurate. This is seen in the USCCB’s use of Acts 3:17 which says the Jews killed Christ only “out of ignorance.” Since doing something out of ignorance exonerates the one charged, the USCCB thought it was worth the risk to give historical credibility to this one phrase even if it meant that they would be questioned on why the USCCB then says in the next sentence that “Acts may be dealing with a reflection of the Jewish-Christian relationship as it existed toward the end of the first century (when Acts was composed.” In other words, the USCCB risked being duplicitous about when portions of Acts were written just so it could use the one phrase that seems to exonerate the Jews from the guilt of killing Christ. A remarkably deceptive display of biblical exegesis if I ever saw one.
The USCCB then says: “But in doing so, statements about Jewish responsibility have to be kept in context. This is part of the reconciliation between Jews and Christians to which we are all called.” In other words, it’s now legitimate for us to create a “context” in which we admit that the passages dealing with the Jews in the Gospels and Acts were rewritten by late first century Christians who basically lied to us about what the Jews said and did in Jesus’ day, and we can do this razzle-dazzle kind of biblical exegesis because we have a greater goal in mind, namely, “the reconciliation between Jews and Christians to which we are all called.” As they say, one lie leads to another. The first lie is that the Gospels and Acts are inaccurate accounts of what the Jews said and did. The second lie is that we are called to reconcile with the Jews. Says who? Where has the Church officially taught such a thing? How do you reconcile with a people who refuse to accept Jesus Christ as God and Savior? The truth is, the Jews are called to reconcile with God, Jesus Christ and the Church; not the Church with the Jews. THAT was the message given to the Jews at Pentecost: “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, for the forgiveness of your sins,” and that is still the same message that should be preached to the Jews today. The problem is that the USCCB has ignored the call of the Gospel for a mess of ecumenical pottage, and as such it is on the verge of apostasy from the faith.
Pastoral Activity during Holy Week and the Easter Season
USCCB (27): Pope John Paul II's visit to the Chief Rabbi of Rome on Good Friday, 1987, gives a lead for pastoral activities during Holy Week in local churches. Some dioceses and parishes, for example, have begun traditions such as holding a "Service of Reconciliation" with Jews on Palm Sunday, or inviting Holocaust survivors to address their congregations during Lent.
R. Sungenis: Once again we see Christians being made to bear the guilt for what the Jews said and did since the first century. The message resonating here is that the Gentile Christians are guilty of creating anti-semitism, which is due directly to the way these Gentile Christians reworded the Gospels and Acts to make it appear as if the Jews were unrepentant sinners who were guilty of not only rejecting Christ but of having him killed. The USCCB would also have us believe that these same Christian Gentiles were thus lying when they made it appear as if God had rejected Judaism and judged the Jews for their actions against Christ; and that since these lies were told about the Jews, it was inevitable that it would foment into an anti-semitism that produced the Jewish internment of World War II. So, in order to appease the Jews for this Christian guilt, the Christians now need to invite Jewish survivors to address Christian congregations so that the Christians can be told that their historic Christian faith, as recorded in Scripture, is filled with lies about the Jews, and therefore the Jews should be exonerated and honored for the people they claim to be. Amazing. The devil himself couldn’t have done a better job.
USCCB (28): It is becoming familiar in many parishes and Catholic homes to participate in a Passover Seder during Holy Week. This practice can have educational and spiritual value. It is wrong, however, to "baptize" the Seder by ending it with New Testament readings about the Last Supper or, worse, turn it into a prologue to the Eucharist. Such mergings distort both traditions. The following advice should prove useful:
When Christians celebrate this sacred feast among themselves, the rites of the haggadah for the seder should be respected in all their integrity. The seder . . . should be celebrated in a dignified manner and with sensitivity to those to whom the seder truly belongs. The primary reason why Christians may celebrate the festival of Passover should be to acknowledge common roots in the history of salvation. Any sense of "restaging" the Last Supper of the Lord Jesus should be avoided .... The rites of the Triduum are the [Church's] annual memorial of the events of Jesus' dying and rising (Bishops' Committee on the Liturgy Newsletter, March 1980, p. 12).
R. Sungenis: Thomas Aquinas and the whole tradition of the Catholic Church say it is wrong to engage in any Jewish rituals from the Old Testament because they have been fulfilled in Christ and are no longer valid. The Council of Florence says that anyone who engages in such rituals is in danger of losing his salvation. These teaching have never been rescinded. The USCCB claims that Christians should perform the seder “to acknowledge common roots in the history of salvation.” But the only “common roots” in religion that we can have with others is Jesus Christ. Any religion that does not recognize Jesus Christ as the Son of God and the prophesied Messiah of the Old Testament is a false religion, and such is the case with Judaism today which practices the seder as a means of denying Christ and looking for another messiah. The USCCB is asking Christians to find common ground in salvation with a people who deny the very essence of salvation, which is Jesus Christ.
Seders arranged at or in cooperation with local synagogues are encouraged.
USCCB (29): Also encouraged are joint memorial services commemorating the victims of the Shoah (Holocaust). These should be prepared for with catechetical and adult education programming to ensure a proper spirit of shared reverence. Addressing the Jewish community of Warsaw, Pope John Paul II stressed the uniqueness and significance of Jewish memory of the Shoah: "More than anyone else, it is precisely you who have become this saving warning. I think that in this sense you continue your particular vocation, showing yourselves to be still the heirs of that election to which God is faithful. This is your mission in the contemporary world before . . . all of humanity" (Warsaw, June 14, 1987). On the Sunday closest to Yom ha Shoah, Catholics should pray for the victims of the Holocaust and their survivors. The following serve as examples of petitions for the general intercessions at Mass:
For the victims of the Holocaust, their families, and all our Jewish brothers and sisters, that the violence and hatred they experienced may never again be repeated, we pray to the Lord.
For the Church, that the Holocaust may be a reminder to us that we can never be indifferent to the sufferings of others, we pray to the Lord.
For our Jewish brothers and sisters, that their confidence in the face of long-suffering may spur us on to a greater faith and trust in God, we pray to the Lord.
R. Sungenis: As stated earlier, we see where all this rewriting of Scripture and Catholic tradition is going – to make a case that the Jews have nothing to do with their historic plight and that the blame for their sufferings must be laid at the feet of Christian Gentiles. This is historiography, not history. Most of the Jews’ suffering, including their spiritual blindness, has come from the hand of God, as outlined in detail in the Old and New Testaments. But since the USCCB now seems to be in the business of editing the Bible in favor of Jewish exoneration and Christian guilt, Jewish suffering now becomes the device to make Christians into sinners rather than the other way around.
Preaching throughout the Year
USCCB (30): The challenges that peak in the seasons of Advent, Lent, and Easter are present throughout the year in the juxtaposition of the lectionary readings. There are many occasions when it is difficult to avoid a reference either to Jews or Judaism in a homily based upon a text from the Scriptures. For all Scripture, including the New Testament, deals with Jews and Jewish themes.
USCCB (31): Throughout the year, the following general principles will be helpful:
Consistently affirm the value of the whole Bible. While "among all the Scriptures, even those of the New Testament, the Gospels have a special preeminence" (Dei Verbum, 18), the Hebrew Scriptures are the word of God and have validity and dignity in and of themselves (ibid., 15). Keep in view the intentions of the biblical authors (ibid., 19).
R. Sungenis: The “intentions of the biblical authors” has always been a ploy of liberal exegesis of Scripture. Not that the intent of the biblical author is unimportant, but the liberals think they have the inside track on what that “intention” really is, and it is usually made out to be that the biblical author “intended” something other than what appears in the actual biblical text. We’ve already seen how the USCCB has molded the Gospels to their own liking by claiming that “some generations after Jesus” there were various Christians near the end of the first century who had a dislike for the Jews and thus edited the Gospels based on those attitudes. There is not a shred of proof for this ridiculous assertion but it is taught in all the major Catholic seminaries around the world.
USCCB: Place the typology inherent in the lectionary in a proper context, neither overemphasizing nor avoiding it. Show that the meaning of the Hebrew Scriptures for their original audience is not limited to nor diminished by New Testament applications (1985 Notes, II).
Communicate a reverence for the Hebrew Scriptures and avoid approaches that reduce them to a propaedeutic or background for the New Testament. It is God who speaks, communicating himself through divine revelation (Dei Verbum, 6).
Show the connectedness between the Scriptures. The Hebrew Bible and the Jewish tradition founded on it must not be set against the New Testament in such a way that the former seems to constitute a religion of only retributive justice, fear, and legalism, with no appeal to love of God and neighbor (cf. Dt 6:5; Lv 19:18,32; Hos 11:1-9; Mt 22:34-40).
Enliven the eschatological hope, the "not yet" aspect of the kerygma. The biblical promises are realized in Christ. But the Church awaits their perfect fulfillment in Christ's glorious return when all creation is made free (1974 Guidelines, II).
Emphasize the Jewishness of Jesus and his teachings and highlight the similarities of the teachings of the Pharisees with those of Christ (1985 Notes, III and IV).
R. Sungenis: This ploy, as we have seen earlier, is for the purpose of making it appear that Jesus and the Pharisees were not really at odds at all. This assertion is so bogus any scholar who claims it should lose his license to write and teach. Almost every reference to the Pharisees in the Gospels depicts their antagonism toward Jesus. It was the Pharisees who emphasized their Jewishness, not Jesus. The Pharisees said that Jesus was not following the Jewish tradition. The USCCB is doing this for one reason: to desensitize Catholics to the anti-Christ and anti-Christianity that lies at the core of Jews and Judaism.
USCCB: Respect the continuing validity of God's covenant with the Jewish people and their responsive faithfulness, despite centuries of suffering, to the divine call that is theirs (1985 Notes, VI).
They argued, for example, that the New Covenant "abrogated" or "superseded" the Old, and that the Sinai Covenant was discarded by God and replaced with another
R. Sungenis: We see again where the language of the 2006 United States Catholic Catechism for Adults originated (“Thus the covenant that God made with the Jewish people through Moses remains eternally valid for them”). The words “continuing validity of God’s covenant with the Jewish people” is very similar, except that the 2006 catechism became even bolder in their heresy and added the phrase “through Moses,” so that they could specifically revive the Mosaic covenant. In para. 6 the USSCB used the words “Sinai covenant” instead of “Mosaic covenant” in the sentence: “They argued, for example, that the New Covenant "abrogated" or "superseded" the Old, and that the Sinai Covenant was discarded by God and replaced with another.” So now we know that whenever we see the generic statement “God’s continuing covenant with the Jews” it is referring to the Mosaic or Sinai covenant. As we know, the USCCB’s trail of heresy came to an end when it was caught and forced by 243 bishops to take out the heretical sentence in all future editions of the US catechism.
USCCB: Frame homilies to show that Christians and Jews together are "trustees and witnesses of an ethic marked by the Ten Commandments, in the observance of which humanity finds its truth and freedom" (John Paul II, Rome Synagogue, April 13, 1986).
Be free to draw on Jewish sources (rabbinic, medieval, and modern) in expounding the meaning of the Hebrew Scriptures and the apostolic writings. The 1974 Guidelines observe that "the history of Judaism did not end with the destruction of Jerusalem, but went on to develop a religious tradition.., rich in religious values." The 1985 Notes (no. 14) thus speak of Christians "profiting discerningly from the traditions of Jewish readings" of the sacred texts.
R. Sungenis: So, like the devil himself, the USCCB is being very deceptive. The “religious tradition” of Judaism that the USCCB claims is so “rich in religious values,” is a tradition from beginning to end that denies the divinity of Jesus Christ and denies that He was the prophesied messiah of their own Hebrew Scriptures. But instead of alerting Catholics to that truth and warning them to be wary of the Jews and Judaism, the USCCB makes it sound as if the Jews’ denial of Jesus Christ is really no big deal. Their rejection of Jesus shouldn’t deter ecumenical relations and respect of Judaism. These are minor issues. The important issue is that we see in each other a search for the “One God and Lord of history” and we shouldn’t get bogged down in silly details like whether Jesus Christ really was who he said he was. Jesus is an annoying detail that we are never going to resolve, and since God has called us to unity, this call overrides the concern about Jesus. This has been the overriding theme throughout the 32 paragraphs of the USCCB paper – unity of religious faiths trumps the religious truths of those faiths, even if those truths happen to be the core of the religious faith in view. This is apostasy.
USCCB (32): The 1985 Notes describe what is central to the role of the homilist: "Attentive to the same God who has spoken, hanging on the same word, we have to witness to one same memory and one common hope in him who is master of history. We must also accept our responsibility to prepare the world for the coming of the Messiah by working together for social justice, respect for the rights of persons and nations, and for social and international reconciliation. To this we are driven, Jews and Christians, by the command to love our neighbor, by a common hope for the kingdom of God, and by the great heritage of the prophets" (1985 Notes, no. 19; see also Lv 19:18,32).
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R. Sungenis: The USCCB used the right word – “driven.” They are driven like madmen to unite Jews and Christians in a watered down religion if it’s the last thing they do. In order to convince everyone, they use guilt-ridden language like “love your neighbor” and “common hope for the kingdom of God,” for these loaded phrases make it appear that if you insist on maintaining the doctrines of Christianity (specifically those about Jesus Christ) and you persist in pointing out the fact that the Jews see Jesus Christ as a virulent fraud and as the antithesis of Moses and the law, then you have failed to love your neighbor. You have failed to resolve your prejudices; you have failed to see that your own Christian tradition has edited the Bible to make it appear as if Jews are the culprits; and the result is a seething anti-semitism that ends up as a holocaust against innocent Jews. All of this, of course, is a big lie, but it is a lie that many have accepted today because it is wrapped in clerical garb with red hats. I’m here to tell you that it is the continuing stages of the apostasy about which Scripture warns us. Someday it will be so bad that the Man of Sin will take his seat in the Temple and declare himself to be God (2 Thess 2:3-4). For now I will end here. Someday I’ll fill in the details of St. Paul’s words.
April 30, 2011
 The Fathers are in absolute consensus that the Old Covenant had been revoked and replaced by the New Covenant. The above is just a small sampling of their agreement.
 The usage of almah in Pro. 30:19 also refers to a virgin. In this passage, “the way of a man with a maid (almah),” who is assumed to be a virgin since she is unmarried, is contrasted in the next verse, Pro. 30:20, with an “adulterous woman” (isha) who is understood as married but having sexual relations with other men. The usage of almah in Song. 1:3 leads to the same conclusion, since in the context the maidens are attracted to the loving man of Solomon’s Song, implying they are refraining from sexual relations with him so that the loving man can be intimate with his one and only lover. The above passages also show that almah refers to more than identifying a girl or young woman. Almah has procreative overtones, referring in the main to a young woman who has the potential of engaging in sexual relations but who has refrained for one reason or another. This connotation, of course, would also fit the Blessed Virgin Mary who, tradition holds, took a vow of celibacy. The above analysis is confirmed by the fact that the LXX translates the Hebrew almah with the Greek parthenos (parqevnoV) (“virgin”) in both Gen. 24:43 and Is. 7:14, showing that the Alexandrian Jews understood the latter term to be identical with the former. Moreover, the LXX rendering includes the Greek article hJ in the phrase hJ parqevnoV as does Matthew, following the article h in the Hebrew of Is. 7:14 hmleh (ha-almah). Hence, the “sign” is not merely “a virgin,” that is, she is not any young woman who shall conceive by normal means, but “the virgin.” The stature engendered by the article coincides with the testimony of the greatness of her offspring (cf. Mic. 5:3; Is. 8:8; 9:5-6; 11:1-10).