Consequence of Old Testament Neglect
By STANLEY B. JAMES
ILITARY strategy in this and other wars has found
it expedient occasionally, instead of attacking some strongly fortilied position, to make /1 detour, isolating it and leaving it in the rear to be dealt with later. It WAS in this way that General Franco won some of his most striking successes. Similar tactics have heen employed in North Afrka and Sicily. It does not follow that, because an enemy city lies right in one's path, it must be attacked and taken before further advance can be made. The obvious course is not always the wise one either in military operations or in the general conduct of life. Evasion does not necessarily imply cowardice; it may mean no more than a proper economy of strength.
Politicians who avoid difficult problems until minor matters have been adjusted, the members of a family who Larry on with their domestic routine, Leaving undiscussed some crucial difference, individuals who skirt round duties they arc not yet prepared to tackle are, perhaps, adopting the only course practicable under the circum%tames. Nevertheless, it should be borne in mind that these abandoned difficulties must be some day faced. We cannot permanently leave an enemy in the rear; progress achieved by that method is fallacious. We must not imagine that we have disposed of what we have only evaded and forgotten.
What the Apostolate By-passed The principle stated may be illustrated in the history of Christianity itself, At the very beginning of its caves it was compelled to leave behind it the city which Providence had marked out as destined to become the religious capital of the world. No less distinct than this destiny was the divine direction which ordained the Rome-ward movement. Jerusalem, entrenched behind unassailable prejudice, was left to its fate. The implacable character of its resistance to the Messiah was shown by the martyrdom of St. Stephen and St. James the Greater. The persecution endured in Jerusalem was such that, except the apostles, the members of the infant Church fled. This, however, did not conclude the attempt to win over the Jews. It was continued among the Dispersion. But here the messengers of the Cross experienced similar treatment with the result that at Antioch in Pisidia, Paul and Barnabas came to the momentous decision announced in the words: " To you it behoved us first to speak the word of God ; but because you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life. behold we turn to the Gentiles." As Christianity spread westward, the importance of Jerusalem declined, and its destruction by the Romans under Titus in 70 am. wiped it, for the time being, off the map. The apostolate to Israel, for all practical purposes; was abandonad. There grew up among Christians a feeling of aversion which made evangelisation impossible. The by-passed race as a Held for missionary effort was forgotten, It lay so far in the rear that its existence, front that point of view, was completely overlooked.
Staking the Claim
There is one consideration, however, which should forbid this becoming a permanent attitude. Recognising though He did the receptiveness of those outside His own nation and clearly for, seeing the fate which awaited Him in Jerusalem, Jesus resolutely set His face towards the capital. For Him, at least, there ccsuld be no by-passing the Chosen People, As the prospector stakes out the claim which he hopes to develop at some future time, so the Messiah planted IIis Cross in the very heart of Jewry. The Crusaders perceived the significance of the fact that it was in Jerusalem Ile had died and risen. But while they saw that this conferred ineffaceable sanctity on the place, they missed the greater truth that it identified Him for ever more with Israel.
His refusal to extend His mission beyond His own people, even though this involved death, is a clear indication that it was prompted by something more than sentiment, To have ,suecumbed to the temptation presented by the rich fields, •white unto harvest as subsequent events proved. lying to the west of Palestine would have meant a final rejection of those who 'bad rejected Him. And this step He decisively declined to take. The Cross is thus a sign of the divine pledge to observe the Covenant. Wherever it crowns the steeples of Christian shrines or surmounts their altars or stands in the public ways of occidental cities or marks the graves of our dead it is a reminder of God's infinitely costly promise to Israel. Wherever it stands the Cross forbids Christendom to forget the by-passed city and the pledge given to its people.
In no mind has the association been closer than in that of the man chiefly reaponsible for the apostolate to the nations. As we saw in a previous article, St. Paul refused to believe in the anal rejection of the Jews. His faith implies a vision of history the vastness of which makes it, for our smaller minds, almost inconceivable: The long preparation undergone for the coming of the Mdssiah, the crucifixion, the westward sweep of the tide till it lapped the shores of islands then scarcely charted, and the turning of the tide till it once more envelopes the children of Abraham he saw as a single design. Here he could perceive the central purpose of history, past, present and to come. Surveying the whole course of time as thus revealed, he broke out into one of those chants which reveal syithin the heart of the ex-Rabbi the spirit of a prophet and poet. "0 the depth of the riches of the wisdom and of the knowledge of God!" he exclaimed. " Haw incomprehensible are His judgments, and how unsearchahle His ways! For who bath known the mind of the Lord? And who bath been His counsellor? Or who hath first given to Him, and recompense shall be made to him? For of Him, and by Him, and in Him, are all Amen.": to. 1-Lim be glory for ever. Ann The Time has Come
Is it merely our misfortune or is it our shame that indifference to the past and agnosticism regarding-the future of the Jews has largely deprived us of this vision?
We have said that, on occasion, it is legitimate and even necessary to bypass difficulties, but we added the warning that, • sooner im later, they must be faced. It is not easy to evade the issue under discussion. The Jew obtrudes himself on public notice. Nevertheless, an both his side and ours, there is a conspiracy of silence. Opinion concerning it are whispered in corners. Rarely does one hear a frank .discussion by responsible speakers and writer's of this outstanding problem. Many years ago Hilaire Belloc, defying the conspiracy, dragged the subject into the Light of day. But Catholics have refused to take up the challenge of his book on The Jews, The Old Testament, despite the fact that it is the key to the New, remains unread. Dr. J. M. Barton in his pamphlet on The Hebrew Prophets, published by the C.T.S., had to confess in a bibliographical note that many of the books that had been of service to him in the writing of his essay were either in foreign languages or by non-Catholic authors. And he added: " Our Catholic literature in English still lacks a comprehensive upto-date treatment of Prophecy and Messianism." In a similar note to a pamphlet on "Patriarchal and Mosaic Refl. gion," he said : " It is regrettable that there is no adequate manual of Old Testament religion by a Catholic writer in English." Yet Cardinal Manning, addressing a company of Jews, declared : " I should not understand my own religion, had I no reverence for yours." And Cardinal Faulhaher courageously pleaded in the hearing of Nazi Germany for the teaching of the Old Testament in Catholic schools.
Public events are making it impossible much longer to ignore the subject. Christendom most turn again to the by-passed problem of Israel.