I love opinionated non-PC people. This blog is to vent my opinions on life, the universe and everything. Which is 42 which in gematria is "My Heart" (LBY) according to Rabbi Abulafia. The Divine Heart is the centre of everything.

Friday, August 07, 2015

Father Antoine Levy and Jews in the Church: A Hebrew Catholic Insight

Father Antoine Levy a  French Jew , a Dominican priest and a Theological Professor in Finland writes: 

"Although some Christians like to tell Jews who became their fellow believers that they are “doubly chosen”, they have no idea what this dual election means in theory as well as in practice. As far as I know, the embryo of a Catholic – let alone a Christian Orthodox – reflection on the purpose and role of Jews in the Body of the Church has yet to see the light of day."

Father Levy is part of a team of  Jews in the Church involved in the Helsinki Consultations. In his recent paper titled "Christophoric Flesh" presented in Moscow he also said: 

" In some way, I think the role of Jews in the Church is essentially negative. In virtue of their own flesh or through their mere presence, Jews are called to exorcize the pagan spirit that still haunts the minds of so many Gentile Christians. There is – this belief is the fruit of my private experience as well as the experience of the Helsinki Consultation- an instinctive knowledge about God, a familiarity with Him that is equally shared by Jewish disciples of Christ and is neither communicated nor communicable to Gentile Christians. As I said before drawing on Paul´s teaching, it does not confer any status of superiority to Jewish disciples over Gentile disciples, just as being a man does not confer any privilege over being a woman when it comes to the reality of Christ´s Salvation. "
Father Antoine also speaks of the insights of Soloviev the great Russian thinker. Soloviev said that it would be the Jews in the Western and Eastern churches that would bring about the reunion of Eastern and Western churches. Father Antoine uses the Slavic idea of a Christophoric (Christ bearer) nation or people but instead of applying it to Poland or Russia he applies this to the Jewish people in connection with the Pauline passage in Romans which is quoted in Nostra Aetate about the Jewish people belonging to the Messiah in a unique manner according to the flesh.

Of course this emphasis on the flesh is a deeply mystical concept intrinsically linked to the Incarnational mystery of the Word becoming flesh in the Messiah Yeshua and the Eucharistic mystery of the flesh and blood of Yeshua which is Jewish flesh and blood. Many have linked the passion and via dolorosa of the Messiah in time with the passion and via dolorosa of the Jewish people throughout history. Jews are connected to the Messiah as a passion people before their baptism whereas Gentiles (as individuals or even as peoples) enter through embracing that passion through baptism. Of course this opens us up to the Marian mysteries of Our Lady as the unique Jewish God bearer and Jewish passion embracer (at the foot of the Cross- the Co-redemptrix) as Jewish Mother of God. This then using the concept of "like wife, like husband" (used by Father Francis L. Filas) opens us to a deeper penetration of the mystery of St Joseph as Jewish Hidden Tzadik and Jewish virgin father of the Messiah. 

From what I am reading from some of the discussion from the Helsinki Consultation on Jews in the Church- that there is some kind of unique "feeling" (not sure that is the right word) as Jews in Mashiach that bonds the Jews participating whether they are in the Messianic movements or in the Catholic, Orthodox or Protestant churches. Father Levy speaks of his difficulties with his Gentile Catholic Domincan brothers:

"I imperturbably continued my path in the same state of mind within the Dominican Order. However, through the years of study and ministry, some sort of new awareness arose and started growing deep inside. I could clearly see that not all the divergences and sometimes clashes between me and my Dominican brothers could be put to the account of my difficulties, as an exotic new-comer, adjusting to the objective standards of Christian charity. I was under the impression that increasingly often the fact that I did not see eye to eye with them stemmed from my being a Jew and them not being such, so that it had hardly anything to do with the norms of Christian charity. Rather it had to do with what I would call an ontological difference, something that derived from the creative will of God. In other words, what surfaced was the inability of these brethren to acknowledge and value a feature which, at its core, could not have been intended to destroy the bonds of charity within the Body of Christ but on the contrary, to bolster and strengthen them.  Of course, these good men were not personally to blame..." 

Father Levy then discusses the relevance of the Jews in the different churches and the Messianic movements coming together. 

"This being said, nothing would have come out of this new awareness, had I not had two simultaneous encounters several years ago. The first was with a group of Finnish Orthodox believers who viewed Jews and Judaism in a favourable light. The second was the discovery of Messianic Judaism as a religious phenomenon. If there is such a thing as a Jewish way of being disciples of Christ and if this way has a value in itself, as Messianic Judaism claims, should this reality not prompt historic Christian denominations to re-assess the status they currently grant, or refuse to grant, their Jewish members?  Jewish disciples of Christ have something to say to the whole Body of Christ by dint of merely being who they are. Accordingly, I was led into thinking that the commonality of their human and spiritual experience would be sufficient to give Jews affiliated with different Church bodies not only the duty, but the desire and the ability to speak with one voice. ... We, Jewish followers of Christ, experience a human and spiritual commonality the depth and the power of which are definitely superior to that of the division between our denominations...".

I think that the reflections of Father Antoine Levy are very relevant to many of us who are Jews in the Church even if one doesn't see it in the same way as he does on every detail. We are at the beginning of a great project and we need prophetic voices and more importantly we need the guidance of the Holy Spirit who leads us into deeper and deeper dimensions of our Faith. However I don't think the unique place of the Jewish people as a Christophoric people "in the flesh" means that Poland or Russia or the Slavic peoples in general are not also Christophoric peoples "in the spirit" with a unique mission of their own. In fact I think the Slavic people have embraced this concept of being Christophoric or passion bearing nations due to interaction with the large Jewish presence in their midst during the centuries. One day the envy or jealousy will depart from between Judah and Ephraim and they will embrace one another and all Israel will be saved. 

We are not Gnostics and thus flesh and spirit, body and soul, must always go together. Unfortunately in much Gentile Catholic spirituality there is a Gnostic tendency that needs this Jewish "enfleshment" that renews our spirituality in the Scriptures and Tradition as received from the Jewish apostles of the Mother Church of the Circumcision. Unfortunately due to Gentile pressure and also the Jewish converts own misunderstanding, the Jews in the Church for too long tried to metaphorically hide or remove the cut of the flesh, which is circumcision (symbolising the brit (covenant) and their Jewishness), contrary to the advice of St Paul. Many of us Jews in the church became like the Hellenizers of Maccabee times rather than like the mother of the seven Maccabean sons. Many a Gentile Catholic has been like the Torturer of the Maccabean sons saying "Go on - a little taste of pork won't matter, fit in, don't make waves, don't be different". The Torturer of the Maccabees starts to look very like the Inquisitor of the Spanish Inquisition. 

Father Antoine Levy asks some very important questions:

"...is it the will of God, as manifested in Jesus Christ, that the Jews should retain their identity as they form one Body with other disciples? If it is the will of God, then the existence of Messianic Jews must have a precise purpose in God's providential plan. But what could it be?

This is the heart of all the discussion - the Divine Will and its coming on earth as it is in Heaven and how that Kingdom of the Divine Will shall come in its fullness through the ingrafting and ingathering of the Jewish people as laid out in Romans 11 and confirmed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Father Elias Friedman the Carmelite founder of the Association of Hebrew Catholics saw that the restoration of  Israel and Jerusalem to Jewish control and the rise of the Messianic Jewish movement as part of the signs of the times that would reverse the regime of assimilation and create a space for a Jewish community in the Catholic Church that would eventually lead to the ingrafting.

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