Guest blogger Ellen Murphy….
It’s that uneasy pause I’ve not yet figured out how to navigate, the one in between a well intentioned person either asking if it was difficult to leave my Jewish faith behind when I entered the Church or commenting about how large a leap it is to become Catholic after being a Jew. In my reply, something is awkwardly mumbled about not abandoning who I am, a Jew, which only leads to the poor soul’s confusion and their thinking I’m embroiled in some conflict of belief between two faiths, or having some sort of identity crisis.
I haven’t figured out a way to gently explain that I have not left my Jewish faith behind, and that the perceived chasm between the two faiths is not actually a divisive chasm but a dynamic connection.
When my daughter was about 6 or 7 years old, I was putting her to bed one night and she, seeing that her usual delay tactics were ineffective, pulled out the big guns: “Mommy, tell me one of the prayers you said at bed time when you were a little girl.” I fell for it. After all, this could be one of those rare teachable moments to help her understand something more of who Jesus is, what kind of family he came from and that her mom was part of that family. I didn’t want to pass up. “Okay but just one and then you go to bed. This is one we said on the Sabbath: Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe who has sanctified us in Your commandments and has commanded us to kindle the Sabbath lights. Amen.” ” Oh mommy!” she said. “That’s really bad; the Jews stole that prayer from us Catholics!”
It was at that moment I realized I experienced the longing of a whole people for the fulfillment of the promises God made in merciful love to the Jewish People, that there were 4,000 more years of history, of consciousness, and that it was only through the most undeserved gift of grace that my love of the God of my childhood was being requited in Christ now. In Jesus Christ I was a completed Jew.
If the experience of relationship between our Triune God and His Chosen People was not known, the ineffable Act of the Crucifixion would be no less than it is. But, what dimension of the fullness of Love, what “place” do we not enter into without the “whole person” — which is contained in the experience of who He was as a Jewish Man; His history.
The same God who spoke at Sinai and gave us the Commandments is the same God who died on the Cross at Golgotha. The Word of God etched in the two stone tablets given to the people by Moses at Mt. Sinai is the same Word of God born in Bethlehem.
In deep humility, I see He has given me all.