I'm a little at a loss to know what to think about the change in the prayer for the Jews in the traditional Good Friday service.
Part of me resents any change to the 1962 Missal; there are many among the more hard-line traditionalists who allege that the whole purpose of changing the Missal in 1969 was precisely to change doctrine. This fuels their argument, and will certainly lead to their distrusting the efforts of Pope Benedict to reconcile them. What will be changed next? they might legitimately ask.
And yet, it is perfectly easy also to understand why the Jews are upset. Speaking of veils of blindness &c is hardly going to mollify them. For perfectly understandable reasons, the Jews are hypersensitive to signs of disapprobation in other quarters, and though we may honestly think their reaction can be over the top at times, the reason for it is plain to see. We do at least owe them the duty and courtesy of acting sensitively. The way our forebears behaved towards them is still a fresh and raw wound in their psyche.
The point at issue is—particularly for American Jews, it would appear—whether or not the old covenant was abrogated when our Lord initiated the new in his blood. Paragraph 4 of the Decree Nostra Aetate of the Second Vatican Council has been often cited by Jewish and (more liberal) Catholic commentators as the source for saying that the earlier covenant with Moses still endures. Well, look for yourself. I'm not sure that the text can be made to say that. It seems to be talking of the love that God has for the Jewish people because of his 'special relationship' with them throughout salvation history, and saying that this love still endures. So it does, of course. But it doesn't say that the former covenant endures.
An earnest desire that the Jewish people come to faith in our Lord seems to me to be a good thing. Before he ascended into heaven, our Lord commanded us to take the Gospel to all people, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. He did not say 'all people except the Jews'. A desire that the Jews be converted may come across as patronizing or even repugnant when viewed from the Jewish side, but it is important to stress that our enthusiasm is not based on any antipathy to them, but rather the reverse. It is the very importance of the Jewish people in the history of Salvation that makes us keen that they, too, share fully in all the benefits of Christ. The acceptance of Christ by the Jews is one of the signs of the Kingdom. It seems to me that the point of Nostra Aetate is a firm setting aside of any racist or anti-Semitic relics that may remain: Vatican II ended a mere 20 years after the end of World War II, after all. The Church proclaims firmly that the Jews are loved by God with a special love, and that we should respect that, and them.
But I cannot see that there is evidence in scripture, tradition, or the solemn Magisterium of the Church that the Mosaic covenant is still to be upheld by the Christian Church as still valid and itself a means of salvation, as has been asserted on some sites I have visited in the last weeks. For a Christian, Jesus Christ is the only way of salvation. We trust that God may save many others who behave well according to their lights, and above all, we pray, the Jews, but that is a different thing from saying that Judaism and Christianity are sort-of parallel ways of salvation.
The Jews, of course, will not see it this way. For them, the Mosaic covenant is their way to heaven. And if they follow it with all their hearts and seek God, and do justly, we may have confidence that Almighty God will save them for the sake of His Son, who died for them.
I'm not confident of my own stand enough, really. There seem to be so many conflicting opinions on this subject flying round the net at the moment. What do you think?