Homilette for Friday, October 30, 2009

Friday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time

(Romans 9:1-5; Luke 14: 1-6)

The Scripture scholar Fr. Raymond Brown posed the question, if Paul had any children, would he have raised them as Jewish Christians? Some might think not since Paul aggressively taught that Christians were dead to the Jewish law. Brown himself, however, believed that he would have. The reading from Romans today indicates why.

Obviously Paul retains a tremendous respect for Judaism. After all, he notes, God has bestowed numerous blessings on its adherents. Paul names the traditional seven and then adds one more that we will readily appreciate. The seven blessings are: 1) adoption as children of God; 2) the presence of God both in the desert and in the Temple; 3) the covenants made to the patriarchs and especially to Moses; 4) the law by which God expressed His holy will; 5) the cult which was free of barbarisms like human sacrifice; 6) the promises that Israel will become a great nation; and 7) the patriarchs – Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob -- whose adherence to God won for their descendants the promise of salvation.

The final blessing on Israel is Jesus himself in whom the whole world is reconciled. If there were no other reason to be grateful for the Jews, we would do so because our savior springs from their seed. But there are many other reasons. The Jewish people have given to the world a rich cultural heritage and many of the greatest minds in history. More importantly, they have struggled with no little success to be a beacon of moral integrity following God’s eternal law and not their whims or base nature. We see their morality reaching its perfection in Jesus and his followers, but again the Jews have given us Jesus.