Behold your Redeemer!
Good Friday: A Loving Plea for the Conversion of the Jews
It is Good Friday. Today more than on any other day of the year, the Crucified Christ speaks to the world, and it is a message of infinite love. As St. Francis of Assisi writes in his meditation for the Twelfth Station of the Cross: “Behold Jesus crucified! Behold His wounds received for love of you! His whole appearance betokens love. His head is bent to kiss you. His arms are extended to embrace you. His heart is open to receive you.”
Lifted up on high, the Creator and Redeemer of the world pleads with sinful humanity to convert to Him (cf. Jn 12:32), for only in Him can salvation be found (see Jn 14:6; Acts 4:12). His loving plea is addressed to all of humanity, the Jews as much as the Gentiles (see Gal 3:28; Col 3:11).
Ever faithful to her Divine Commission (see Mt 28:19-20; Mk 16:15-16), the Catholic Church has perennially sought the conversion of all men to Jesus Christ and His holy Church. In the twentieth century, however, some began to claim that the Jews are exempt from this necessity of becoming Catholic for salvation, that they had their own valid covenant with God, as though the Old Covenant had never been superseded by the New (cf. Mt 21:43; Mt 27:51; Rom 11; Heb 8:13).
On Mar. 25, 1928, Pope Pius XI intervened and issued a decree through the Holy Office which suppressed the association known as the “Friends of Israel” (Amici Israel). In this decree the Pope made clear:
…the Catholic Church has always been accustomed to pray for the Jewish people, who were the depository of divine promises up until the arrival of Jesus Christ, notwithstanding their subsequent blindness, or rather, because of this very blindness. Moved by that charity, the Apostolic See has protected the same people from unjust ill-treatment, and just as it censures all hatred and enmity among people, so it altogether condemns in the highest degree possible hatred against the people once chosen by God, viz., the hatred that now is what is usually meant in common parlance by the term known generally as “anti-Semitism.”
(Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office, Decree Cum Supremae)
When the Modernists took over the Catholic structures in 1958, however, and put in the first of a line of antipopes who gave the world the so-called Second Vatican Council and the post-conciliar pseudo-magisterium, the Catholic mission to the Jews ceased. The theology of Vatican II had made such a mission nonsensical, for it suggested, or stated outright, that the apostate Jews have no need of conversion to Jesus Christ or His holy Catholic Church.
This denial of the Catholic Church’s mission to Jewish people was enshrined even in the official Novus Ordo Good Friday liturgy, in which the Vatican II Church now no longer prays that God would lift the veil from the Jews’ hearts so they would acknowledge their Redeemer. Rather, the Modernists now pray that the Jews would “continue to grow … in faithfulness [!] to [God’s] covenant” so that they would “arrive at the fullness of redemption”!
What a striking contrast between the two theological positions: The traditional Catholic understanding shows that today’s Jews do not have a valid covenant with God to which they merely need to be more faithful, nor do they have any part in the Redemption of Christ for as long as they do not accept Him as the promised Messiah. More details about how the Vatican II Church has tampered with the Good Friday petition for the Jews can be found in our substantial post on the issue:
One of the most significant supporters of the false Novus Ordo theology regarding the Jewish people is Fr. Joseph Ratzinger, also known as “Pope” Benedict XVI. In an article he wrote for a German theological journal in 2018, he confirmed that there could be no mission to the Jews, only “dialogue.”
The traditional Catholic position on the Jews is clear and firm, but it is not uncharitable. To the contrary, it is the necessary doctrinal underpinning of true charity being shown to Jewish people, for it encourages Catholics to evangelize the Jews so that they too may come to know and love their Redeemer, who suffered so much and so patiently for them, too: “For the charity of Christ presseth us: judging this, that if one died for all, then all were dead” (2 Cor 5:14).
In 2018, the Modernist Novus Ordo bishop Robert Barron confirmed the great rupture that exists between traditional Catholicism and the new religion of Vatican II when he scandalized Jewish talk show host Ben Shapiro by blasphemously telling him that it was not necessary for him to become a Catholic to be saved, for “Christ is [merely] the privileged route to salvation” — rather than the only route, as Christ Himself insists on: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No man cometh to the Father, but by me” (Jn 14:6).
In our critique of Barron, we showed how a real Catholic would respond to Shapiro’s question whether he had to convert to Catholicism to be saved. This is what we wrote:
Mr. Shapiro, I have no doubt that you are of good will and are sincerely trying to lead a virtuous and God-fearing life, but ever since Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, we have been deprived of the divine life which we need to have in our souls to be able to enjoy God’s Presence forever in Eternal Bliss. For this reason, try as you might, your attempts at keeping the commandments, however many in total, are necessarily doomed to failure. You were conceived in original sin and thus deprived of the supernatural grace you need to make it to Heaven, and even keeping all of the commandments cannot make up for that. In addition, you have sinned in the past and you will sin again in the future, and so it is clear you have already failed in your effort to keep all the commandments. This is why we all — we who are the physical offspring of Adam and Eve — need a Redeemer.
Only the Redeemer could expiate the offense Adam and Eve committed and repair the privation of supernatural grace they transmitted to their progeny. They offended an infinite God and therefore incurred an infinite debt. The violation of God’s law that they committed could only be expiated by infinite Atonement. But what finite being should be capable of rendering infinite Atonement? It is impossible to do for a mere creature.
God, who is all-just, demands that proper expiation be made. But God is also merciful, and therefore, instead of leaving man to his misery and to face his eternal punishment in hell, God took pity on us and decided to provide the remedy Himself. Thus the prophet Isaias foretold: “Say to the fainthearted: Take courage, and fear not: behold your God will bring the revenge of recompense: God himself will come and will save you” (Is 35:4).
Thus God Himself became the Redeemer, and this is Jesus of Nazareth, God’s very own Son. He is the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity become incarnate. This Incarnation — a hypostatic union of the Divine Nature of God the Son with a created Human Nature from the house of David — was also prophesied by Isaias: “Drop down dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the just: let the earth be opened, and bud forth a saviour” (Is 45:8). The Dew from Heaven, the Just One whom the clouds rain, is the Divine Nature, and That which buds forth from the earth that opens, is the Human Nature. That is why King David, though he knew the Redeemer would be his descendant, called him “Lord” (Ps 109:1; cf. Mt 22:41-46).
God sent us His Son, the Redeemer, to render on our behalf an infinite Sacrifice of Atonement for sin to the Most Holy Trinity. This He was to do by suffering the Passion, as foretold by Isaias (Is 53) and in the book of Wisdom (Ch. 2), and by offering Himself to be slaughtered on the Cross as the Passover Lamb of the New and Eternal Covenant, before rising again from the grave. This Sacrifice of God’s only Son was foreshadowed by Abraham, who, obeying God’s command, took his only son to be sacrificed, laid wood on his back (Gen 22:6), and said: “God will provide himself a victim for an holocaust” (Gen 22:8).
With Jesus Christ’s Sacrifice on Mount Calvary, all that was foreshadowed by the Temple sacrifices and the Mosaic ceremonial was fulfilled, and the Old Law ceased. This was signified by the rending of the veil in the temple in Jerusalem the moment Christ died (see Mt 27:51).
It was most fitting that man should be redeemed in this way. Being truly God, Jesus was able to render an infinite Atonement to the Trinity on behalf of mankind. Being truly man, He was able to render that infinite Atonement on behalf of mankind.
To benefit from this Perfect Sacrifice which Jesus Christ rendered on the Cross on Mount Calvary, all men must have Its merits communicated to their souls. The first condition for this to happen is that we must believe (see Jn 3:16; Mk 16:16; Heb 11:6). We must believe everything that God has revealed, especially that He is One God in Three Divine Persons, that He became incarnate in Jesus Christ, that He suffered and died for our sins, that He rose from the dead, ascended into Heaven, and sent the Holy Ghost to sanctify our souls.
This Faith is a supernatural gift which is infused into our souls through grace, and this same grace enables us also to hope and to love, all three of which are necessary for salvation. Nothing we do has any supernatural merit before God if we do not have Faith (see Heb 11:6). We are condemned either to despair or to presumption if we do not have hope, for “we are saved by hope” (Rom 8:24). And if we do not love, if we do not have supernatural charity, we are “nothing” (1 Cor 13:2), for we are commanded to love God with all our being and to love our neighbor as ourselves for God’s sake (see Mk 12:30-31), else our Faith is “dead in itself” (Jas 2:17).
To prove His Messiahship, Christ worked countless miracles, including the raising of dead men back to life, and ultimately, raising Himself from the dead. Jesus’ Messianic dignity is likewise confirmed by the fact that after His arrival, all prophets ceased. God sent no more prophets as He had done “at sundry times and in divers manners … in times past” because now He “hath spoken to us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the world” (Heb 1:1-2).
Now Christ, once He had ascended into Heaven, did not leave us orphans. He sent the Holy Ghost and established a hierarchical society of men with the mission to make disciples of all nations (see Mt 28:19-20) and to teach, sanctify, and govern His sheep. This society He instituted to be the “pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim 3:15), the Ark of Salvation to which all must belong if they wish to be saved, just as all who wanted to be saved from the Deluge in the days of Noah had to be inside his ark or else perish. This society is called the Catholic Church, because it is the universal (Greek: katholikos) Church established by God for all of mankind.
I would like to recommend to you a little booklet by Tertullian, For the Conversion of the Jews, which shows how Christ fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies. In addition, I urge you to read the apologetics material by the convert David Goldstein and the conversion story of Alphonse Ratisbonne as well as that of Eugenio Zolli, the former Chief Rabbi of Rome.
Ben, Jesus Christ is your Redeemer also. He has already redeemed you, but this Redemption is of no avail to you for as long as you deny Him (see Mk 16:16; Mt 10:32-33; 2 Tim 2:12): “This is the stone which was rejected by you the builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other. For there is no other name under heaven given to men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:11-12). Let your Redeemer, therefore, also become your Savior. Apart from the grace of Christ, which cannot be obtained without Faith, nothing you do will save you (see Jas 2:10).
I implore you, therefore, be blind no longer and see! See that the Redeemer foreshadowed in your own Scriptures (the Old Testament) is Jesus of Nazareth, who suffered and died for you and for all men so that the curse of Adam and Eve would be taken away from your soul and His divine life be infused into it abundantly (cf. Jn 10:10), to your eternal happiness and His eternal glory.
This is one possible way to evangelize a Jewish man or woman of good will, always remembering that such missionary work ought to be accompanied by prayer and fasting so as to abound in rich fruit (cf. 1 Cor 3:7-8).
Let us, then, show great charity to Jews. With God’s grace, let us help lift that veil from their hearts so as to hasten the fulfillment of St. Paul’s prophecy “that blindness in part has happened in Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles should come in. And so all Israel should be saved…” (Rom 11:25-26).
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