FAST FOOD (2014): Thirty-Fifth Helping

Again, “We adore God Who is love, who in Jesus Christ gave Himself for us, Who offered Himself on the Cross to expiate our sins, and through the power of this love, rose from the dead and lives in His Church. We have no God other than Him” (Pope Francis, 6/21/14)

From A Theology of the Old Testament by Rev. John L. McKenzie:

“Jesus is the Messiah of Judaism and He can only be understood as the Messiah of Judaism. Jesus could have emerged from nothing except Israel and the Old Testament. It is remarkable when one reflects that only as the Savior of Israel can Jesus be recognized. The role of Jesus can be protected from distortion only by holding fast its connection with Biblical antecedents: a non-Israelite Jesus makes no sense.

The total reality of Jesus Messiah is found nowhere in the Old Testament, not even in its totality. Jesus, however, could have emerged from nothing except Israel and the Old Testament; but the study of the Old Testament does not demand that Jesus Messiah emerge from it. As Jesus cannot be understood without the Old Testament, so He is not found in His full reality in the Old Testament. Jesus arises from the categories of the Old Testament but He surpasses them. Jesus transformed the idea of Messiah when He fulfilled it.

The Old Testament contains many statements of doctrine which Christians cannot believe and of morality which Christians cannot practice. As far as I can tell, the bloodthirsty Israelites of David’s time or the bloodthirsty Romans of Jesus’ time were quite as ready for the Gospel as are my contemporaries.”

In these FAST FOOD (2014) Helpings much time and cyber-ink has been expended making it rationally transparent that the Jesus of the primitive Church and the Gospels is Nonviolent and teaches a Way of Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies as the Way. He teaches this by word and deed as the only Way to enter into the salvation process initiated by God through Him. It is a process which vanquishes evil and death in all their manifestations for all people. It is now obvious, I hope, that when a person answers the question that Jesus asked St. Peter, “Who do you say I am?” in the manner Peter answers it, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God” (Mt 16: 16), he or she is simultaneously saying, “You are the Savior of Israel. You are my Savior and Lord. You know what you are talking about. Your Way is the Way of God. I unreservedly trust in you. I will be your disciple and follow you. You have the words of eternal life. Where else can I go?”

Nothing in the Gospels suggests that after a person professes, “You are the Messiah, the Christ,” he or she can, or would even have the smallest inkling, to say, “Thanks Jesus for coming and saving me. But, now, I must be getting back to my old wanton and wicked ways. See you in heaven!” This is not how Jesus saves. The explicit admonition to Church leaders and warning to all Christians in these Helpings is that the institutional Churches for the last 1700 years has gone back, in fact, theory and theology, in the areas of violence and enmity, to the old wanton and wicked ways of Israel in the Old Testament, of Rome, of Greece, of Egypt, of the world. They have never ceased saying with their lips to Jesus, “You are the Messiah, the Christ,” while simultaneously never ceasing to engage in the wantonness and wickedness of violence, war, capital punishment, abortion and enmity—and propagandizing these anti-Jesus, anti-Gospel evils as part of the saving Way of Jesus!

When Peter proclaims “You are the Messiah, the Christ,” he means, as all Jews would have meant and all Christians must mean—if Jesus is not to become a Rorschach inkblot into whom can be read every mythological notion of salvation conceivable—that Jesus is the Messiah of Judaism, the Savior of Israel.  But all the admonitions and warning of these FAST FOOD Helpings have been addressed to the Churches, their leaders and their people. Jesus during His life on earth never addresses the Churches. The Church was born on Pentecost, after Jesus had ascended to the Father. Jesus addresses Israel, the leaders of Israel, the people of Israel. “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the House of Israel” (Mt 15:24; 10:6).

Israel, the leaders of Israel and the people of Israel yesterday and today reject His Way of Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies, not by some serpentine, Orwellian double-speak contrivance of logic that equates war with peace, love with hate, violence with nonviolence as the institutional Churches do, but rather on the basis that Jesus is not the Messiah of Israel and therefore He knows no more about God’s Way than anyone else. Absent being the Messiah of Israel, Jesus has no Divine authority and His teaching regarding what kind of God God is and what God expects, and specifically His teaching of Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies, have no Divine mandate behind them as the Way of God for Israel, for its leaders or for its people. The rejection of Jesus as the Messiah of Israel puts an end for any Jew to any more than normal human interest in what He taught.

But, whether Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah of Israel, the Savior of Israel can objectively have—because of the principle of non-contradiction— only one truthful answer: yes or no. However, the answer any human being can give to that question must be a faith answer, a faith answer which is intimately interconnected with whatever it is that is her or his faith in what kind of God God is and what God expects.

Emmanuel Charles McCarthy          (To be continued)

 

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