A merciless attack on the Pope Francis’ Jewish Missionary of Mercy!
A Catholic priest friend with a great sense of humor put up my recent post on Pope Francis appointing me, Jewish Scripture scholar that I am, to be one of his Missionaries of Mercy, putting this up, that is, on his FaceBook with this introduction:
I know Pope Francis has an ecumenical bent, and I know he likes to push the envelope, but a Jewish Missionary of Mercy? Really?
I laughed and laughed when he told me this, knowing the reaction that it would bring, a perfect teaching moment. And that’s what he wanted, of course. I still laugh. Pope Francis doesn’t want non-joyful Missionaries of Mercy. Here’s some of the reaction on his FaceBook:
1st comment: I’m soooooooo confused, and I’m a cradle Catholic.
2nd comment: Read the article and you won’t be.
3rd comment: I read the article & I’m even more confused now! Why do Catholics in need of mercy benefit from a “missionary of mercy” who doesn’t even accept Jesus as the Messiah, much less belong to the Church He founded????
Here’s the original article, just previous to this one on Arise! Let us be going!: Pope Francis’ Jewish Missionary of Mercy. Please, read it carefully. This points to the clear need for some dialogue.
Teaching this teachable moment
Lest anyone be scandalized by all this mirth (for the above FB comments were surely made with equal jest, especially the third comment, for she is a friend), let me use this all as a teachable moment. Here’s the truth of it:
I am a Catholic Priest who happily takes Pope Saint Pius X’s oath against modernism. But, what if I was a rabbi instead of being a priest? Let me tell you that one of the most profound instructions on the reclaiming of space and time for our heavenly Father by way of His Eternal Word Incarnate – “Instaurare omnia in Christo” (Ephesians 1:10 and the motto of Saint Pius X) – came to me by way of a Jewish rabbi. His instructing the ignorant, me, was an exercise of the spiritual work of work of mercy on my behalf. It would do us well to listen to each other. Let’s start with a rabbi turned priest, just to help you along:
“I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city. At the feet of Gamaliel I was educated strictly in our ancestral law and was zealous for God, just as all of you are today” (Acts 22:3 nab).
That’s Saint Paul, by the way, who goes on to say this:
“I speak the truth in Christ, I do not lie; my conscience joins with the holy Spirit in bearing me witness that I have great sorrow and constant anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and separated from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kin according to the flesh. They are Israelites; theirs the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; theirs the patriarchs, and from them, according to the flesh, is the Messiah. God who is over all be blessed forever. Amen” (Romans 9:1-5 nab).
Need we add that the Apostles are Jewish? That Immaculate Mary is Jewish? That Jesus is Jewish? Speaking of the Divine Son of God, Jesus said of Himself (John 4:22):
“Salvation is from the Jews.”
Still don’t get it? Here are some Jewish Catholics you might know:
- The Catholic Archbishop of Paris, Aaron Jean-Marie Cardinal Lustiger (✝ 5 August 2007)
- The Catholic auxiliary of Jerusalem, the Most Reverend Jean-Baptiste Gourion
Miserando atque eligendo, right?
Since I sojourned for a time above the cave of Elijah on Mount Carmel, and on so very many occasions wandered among the caves along the wadi where the ancient Carmelite monastery was destroyed by the Islamic crowd in bygone centuries, I hasten to add that all the big Spanish names among canonized Catholic Discalced Carmelites also declared to be Catholic Doctors of the Catholic Church have Jewish roots. And then there is, of course, Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein), a Discalced Carmelite nun. Did I mention she is a Jewess, and Catholic? Perhaps you know how she died.
If we had to mention literature, I’m sure you’ve all read Michael O’Brien’s Father Elijah: An Apocalypse. The main character is Jewish and a Catholic priest.
There are, of course, countless others. And we could go on to mention the Jewish saints in the traditional Roman Canon of the Sacrifice of the Mass, etc., but, I think, the point should be clear:
One can be Jewish and Catholic at the same time.
But just to be crystal clear: I am indeed a Catholic priest, belong to a Catholic pontifical right clerical religious congregation, and am taking care of a Catholic parish of the Catholic diocese of Charlotte, on behalf of the Catholic bishop of this Catholic diocese. All Catholic. But that doesn’t mean I can’t be a Jewish Scripture scholar appointed by Pope Francis to be one of his Jewish Missionaries of Mercy, it being that I am 100% Jewish, what with my mother, grandmother and great-grandmother all speaking Yiddish from their native Poland.
I laugh with great belly laughs of Jewish mirth and… and… I really should grow pe’ot also for the sake of creating teachable moments like this. Having said all that, don’t be angry with me. Laugh with me for the joy of being instructed in the faith of our fathers.