“Say to the cities of Judah, ‘Behold your God!’” (Isaiah 40:9)
In 2015, to mark the fiftieth anniversary of Nostra aetate, the Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews issued a document entitled “The Gifts and the Calling of God Are Irrevocable” (hereafter, GC). Although some years have passed since its publication, this text still serves as a useful example of the post-conciliar Church’s vexing and muddled position on the desirability of evangelizing the Jewish people, a subject of renewed salience due to recent statements by Pope Francis concerning the Mosaic law. By reflecting on GC’s defects, we might achieve a fuller appreciation of the mystery of Israel (which is, we will discover, the mystery of the Church), and recommit ourselves to the universal proclamation of the Gospel, “to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16).
From the outset, GC invites confusion by carelessly trafficking in the misleading locutions that typify Catholic-Jewish discourse. For instance, it repeatedly mentions the “Jewish roots” of Christianity (e.g., 5, 13, 14) and describes the Old Testament writings as “Hebrew Scriptures” (13). Such characterizations subtly divide the people and revelation of God. The roots of the Church are Christian no less than its buds and branches, and the Scriptures are always and ever Christian Scriptures, written by believers in the Messiah who looked forward to His coming (Luke 2:25-32, 24:27; John 5:46; 1 Peter 1:10-11).