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Good morning Father,

First of all, I wish you a belated happy Easter.

My question concerns the promises given to Israel and the New Testament. What do we mean, when we say that the Church is the new Israel? What happened to the promises given to the chosen people in view of the New Testament? Why does the Church report some passages and episodes of the Old Testament to us Christians as well? For example, in the book of Isaiah we read: “Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you!” (Isaiah 49, 15).
This passage is sometimes quoted as a demonstration of the infinite love of God towards us Christians.
In the Bible though, Zion only is explicitly mentioned, not the whole Christianity! «Zion» is the mountain the temple of Jerusalem was built on, at the same time, it indicates the Jewish nation and its members.
If the ten commandments were given to the Jewish people, why should we, catholics, follow them?
What is the substantial difference between a non-baptised Jew and a Catholic?

Thank you, and I wish you a good day.

Priest’s answer

Dear reader,

1. Saint Paul defined the Christians as God’s Israel: “Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule and to the Israel of God.”(Gal 6, 16). The first Israel was based on the Jewish race. Saint Paul called it “Israel according to the flesh” (Cor 10, 18). This is referred to the ones who are biologically descendants of Abraham. To this Israel, belong only the Jews by descendance, or the pagans who became Jews through circumcision (the latter ones were called proselytes). According to Saint Paul, the descendants of Abraham according to the spirit, God’s Israel, are Christ’s believers. Being part of this Israel comes from one’s faith in Christ. In Him, all races disappear, or rather, they don’t matter anymore: “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal 3, 28) and “here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.” (Col 3, 11).

2. Saint Peter also referred to the Church as the new Israel when he attributed the four prerogatives of the Old Testament’s Israel to the Christians: “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” (1 Pt 2, 9-10). My chosen people: “The wild animals honor me, the jackals and the owls, because I provide water in the wilderness  and streams in the wasteland, to give drink to my people, my chosen.” (Is 43,20). Royal priesthood, holy nation: “you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation»” (Ex 19,6). People that God acquired for Himself: “The people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise.” (Is 43,21).

3.a Concerning Zion, Saint Paul reminds us: “See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall, and the one who believes in him will never be put to shame.”( Rm 9,33). The reference is explicit: the Jews refused to see the Messiah in Christ. They expected the Messiah to be a politician and they did not want to recognize Christ’s divinity in His humility.

4. Jesus Christ did not abrogate the commandments, in fact, before being written on stone tables, they were written in men’s hearts since the moment of mankind’s creation. When someone asked Jesus: “Teacher, what good must I do to gain eternal life?” He answered him, “Why do you ask me about the good? There is only One who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” He asked him, “Which ones?” And Jesus replied, ” ‘You shall not kill; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; honor your father and your mother’; and ‘you shall love your neighbor as yourself.'” (Mt 19,16-19).

5.Finally you ask: “what’s the difference between a non-baptised Jew and a Catholic?”. The Christian believes in the divinity of Christ and in the Trinity of God. Unfortunately the Jews do not believe in these two pillars of Christian faith.

I thank you and remember you to God and bless you.

Father Angelo