As Christmas nears and we continue our celebration of his coming, it’s a great time to reflect on our faith. Being Catholic is NOT just about being Baptized. That’s just the beginning. It’s more about a very complex set of practices and beliefs, most of which came before the birth of Christ. I’d like to focus on some of those.
Last week the Gospel taught us about John the Baptist and his baptizing that came before that which Jesus brings. Believe it or not, the Mass is much the same. If we divide the Mass into two sections, the first would be a synagogue service (gathering, reading of the Word, and teaching). As a matter of fact, the word rabbi means teacher, not father, priest or any of the main other titles we give to other clergy, and it is the most common address used with others approached Jesus (this is purely opinion, but feels accurate as I reflect on the Bible reading and do on a daily basis).
Once we have completed the synagogue service, we move on to the reenactment of the Last Supper, and the Eucharist. The priest takes on the role of Jesus as he breaks the bread and partakes of the bread and wine, we all approach the table of the Lord to partake of Sacrament and receive the Body of Christ. (This is NOT just a symbol, as Catholics, we accept that the Eucharist has been transformed into the actual Body and Blood of Christ, which is the rationale behind our not knowingly providing non-Catholics the Eucharist.)
Nowhere in the scripture does Jesus tell us to renounce our Jewish heritage. Instead, we are led to reenact the service of the Jewish faith on a weekly basis and to accept that God has fulfilled his promise of redemption through the sacrifice of his self on the Cross.
As Christmas approaches, take a little time to embrace some of the other practices that our Jewish brothers and sisters celebrate during this time of year. The celebration of the Miracle of Light (Hannukah) is in part why we refer to Christ as the Light. Look for what ties us together, not what separates us, and you may find that our faith is NOT two millennium, but over six millennium old.