Let us remember the moment. It is Good Friday mass. The homily for Good Friday was the moment most dreaded by Jews for centuries. Following this homily, mobs would set to the streets, and Jews feared for their lives. Passion plays enacted on Good Friday were a constant source of violence towards Jews. More recently, Good Friday has constituted a problem for Jewish-Christian relations, in view of the new Latin version of the prayer for the Jews, released by Pope Benedict.H/T Editors Briefing. See also my earlier post here.
With this background, it is striking to note what Father Cantalamessa makes of the opportunity. He uses the moment at St. Peter’s Basilica, in the presence of the Pope, to wish Jews a “Good Passover.”
Reading this, I asked myself, when before was a Good Friday sermon used for such purposes? Probably never. Why do we take this gesture of goodwill for granted? Why do we gloss over it in silence? To think of the Jews as brothers in faith during a Papal Good Friday service is the fruit of decades of labor in the field of Jewish-Christian relations. That this could be said so casually and naturally is the real news.
But he does not stop here. He greets us, Jews, with words from the Mishna, quoted in the Hagadda, the most popular of Jewish texts, and echoed in Christian liturgy, a sign of bonding and unity between our communities. How often have we complained that Judaism is not simply the Biblical root, of which Christianity is the branch? How often have we emphasized the need to refer to latter day Judaism in its own right, respecting it as a self-standing religion, and not simply as the Old Testament?
Does not greeting us on Good Friday in words taken from the Mishna-Haggada deliver a powerful message that something here is right and that we have made progress?
We didn’t hear all this because we only noted the comparison of violent attacks on the Church with those perpetrated against the Church [typo here, with the word Jews clearly intended]. But even here, we failed to hear the Jewish voice quoted by the Franciscan Father, in its fullness...
Monday, 12 April 2010
Good Friday homily: article in the Jerusalem Post
I found the following article on the website of the Jerusalem Post a very thoughtful and informative read: We are bad listeners. Do read the whole article, though I offer the extract below to give you a feel for the content of the article.