Dear Parishioners and Visitors,
“Now the Passover of the Jews was near.” As Christians prepare for Palm Sunday and Holy Week, followers of the Jewish faith tradition prepare for the beginning of Passover at sundown on Friday, April 15. There are many traditions that led to the Jewish use of unleavened bread, or matzah, during this feast. One of the most interesting is the usage of the Hebrew term “the bread of poverty” for matzah. This hard, flat bread is said to remind Jews of what it was like to be poor captives in Egypt and to promote humility and a greater appreciation of the gift of freedom. Food for thought for one and all—and for gratitude!
Here is more food for thought: Although the term, “the Jews” as it is used in the Gospels may be interpreted by some disparagingly, the Church’s unique relationship with the Jewish people is grounded in a shared heritage, making it unlike any other dialogue with another religious tradition. It cannot be forgotten that Jesus himself, as well as the earliest apostles, were Jewish. The Second Vatican Council relied on the Apostle Paul’s imagery to describe the familial bond: “Nor can she forget that she draws sustenance from the root of that well-cultivated olive tree onto which have been grafted the wild shoots, the Gentiles” (Nostra Aetate, 4).
The Church recognizes that God’s covenant with the Jewish people continues to be valid. Recently, the Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews has even stated, “That the Jews are participants in God’s salvation is theologically unquestionable, but how that can be possible without confessing Christ explicitly, is and remains an unfathomable divine mystery” (“The Gifts and the Calling of God are Irrevocable”, 36).
Wishing you the blessings of Holy Week and a deeper understanding of our “shared heritage” with all of God’s children,
Fr. John Mahoney