Jews & Judaism

Jesus Was A Jew – So What is That To You?

by Steve Ray on May 24, 2015

The Jewish Jesus - like he really was

 Jesus was a Jew.

This fact may escape the casual reader of the New Testament, but it is crucial to understanding Jesus and the book written about him—the Bible. Unhappily, in 21st century America we are far removed from the land of Israel and the ancient culture and religion of Jesus and his Jewish ancestors. 

 Let me ask you a few questions. Were you born and raised in Israel? Did you study the Torah with the rabbis from an early age? Have you traversed the rocky hills and dusty paths to celebrate the mandatory feasts in Jerusalem? 

 Do you speak Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic? I haven’t found anyone in my Catholic parish who has these credentials. Without this background, we are at a great disadvantage when studying the Bible and its central character — Jesus himself. 

 When we open the pages of our English Bible, we find a Jewish book! The setting revolves around Israel and the worship of Yahweh.

With one exception, the more than forty biblical writers were all Jews, and the exception was most likely a Jewish proselyte.  (Do you know who the only non-Jewish author in the Bible is? I’ll give you a few hints: he was a physician, one of St. Paul’s co-workers, and he wrote the first history of the Church.)   

 The point is, how can we understand the Bible and the teaching surrounding our Lord Jesus and salvation without understanding his people, his culture, and his Jewish identity? 

For the whole article click here.

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Putting Us to Shame

by Steve Ray on December 25, 2014

It is Christmas day. My wife and I are on a plane to Israel. We watch as a young man. He is uttering muffled chants under his breath and bobbing up and down. His chin is wagging under his serious eyes and his black hat. His prayer shawl with the many knotted tassels is under his black suit. His Hebrew Prayer Book is open as he stands facing Jerusalem. Which way is Jerusalem?

He must be guessing at the direction of Jerusalem because we are in a plane 35,000 feet over the Mediterranean Sea, or Turkey, and he is standing at his seat bobbing and weaving. He must be guessing. Periodically he raises the Hebrew Scriptures to lips to kiss the Word of G-d (they never write the word “God” or pronounce it out of great respect).

We've seen planes with the isle full like this too

People are staring at him, others ignore him. But he doesn’t give a rip what anyone thinks. He is in the presence of the G-d of his fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He is attempting to obey the 3,000 year old commands of Moses and that is all that matters to him.

He just sat down. While others turn off their reading lights and cover their eyes to sleep, this Orthodox Jew continues reading his Hebrew Bible–living in the holy memory of his people and their God.

Other than my wife and I — crossing ourselves to pray when the plane took off — I didn’t notice any Christians displaying their faith openly. Maybe there aren’t any Christians on this plane; yet again, maybe there are some on board but they are keeping it to themselves.

Will you be ashamed to show your faith today, or will you too live the whole day in the presence of God? We are going to do our best to demonstrate the reality and love of God–and to show our devotion to him.

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The Jewish Cardinal

by Steve Ray on November 16, 2014

I met a new hero today, but only through the medium of a movie. It was entitled The Jewish Cardinal. After returning home exhausted from the Raising Rebels Conference in Manchester NH where I gave three talks yesterday, I was ready for a good movie tonight. My wife found this one on Netflix. 

This drama details the true story of Jean-Marie Lustiger, the son of Polish-Jewish immigrants, who became a leader in the Catholic Church. An exciting story rated 5-star on Netflix (to which I would agree), the only slight difficulty was the fast-paced dialog in French which made it difficult at times to keep up with the captioning. Maybe this was because I was tired.

After the movie I read his story on Wikipedia, after which I loved him all the more. He was born in 17 September 1926 and died on 5 August 2007. He converted to the Catholic Church at 13 years old after having discovered the New Testament.

His mother was deported to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp where she died a year later. This is where Edith Stein and Maximilian Kolbe also died. Lustiger’s father tried unsuccessfully to have his son’s baptism annulled, and even sought the help of the chief rabbi of Paris.

His tomb is in a crypt in Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris. I will visit his tomb in July while leading a group to Lourdes, Santiago di Compostela, Fatima and Paris. (Join us!)

His epitaph, which he wrote himself in 2004, can be seen in the crypt of Notre-Dame Cathedral, and translates as:

I was born Jewish.
I received the name
Of my paternal grandfather, Aaron
Having become Christian
By faith and by Baptism,
I have remained Jewish
As did the Apostles.
I have as my patron saints
Aaron the High Priest,
Saint John the Apostle,
Holy Mary full of grace.
Named 139th archbishop of Paris
by His Holiness Pope John Paul II,
I was enthroned in this Cathedral
on 27 February 1981,
And here I exercised my entire ministry.
Passers-by, pray for me.

† Aaron Jean-Marie Cardinal Lustiger
Archbishop of Paris

When we stand before his crypt in July we will pray for him and we will honor him — a fulfilled Jew and an example to us all.

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Jews as Proof of God’s Existence & Faithfulness

October 10, 2014

Winston Churchill wrote “Some people like the Jews, and some do not. But no thoughtful man can deny the fact that they are, beyond any question, the most formidable and the most remarkable race which has appeared in the world.“ He is absolutely right! I have often said they are remarkable people –gifted in a [...]

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Flint Knives and the Gospel

October 5, 2014

Ah, excuse me? What do flint knives have to do with the Gospel? A whole lot! Abraham believed God against all odds and as a reward he was given the special sign of the Covenant with God. And what was that wonderful sign between them? In Genesis 17:10-11 God announces this sign to Abraham: “This [...]

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How the Ancient Hebrews Viewed the Universe

September 28, 2014

This is part of Logos Bible Software. I encourage every Catholic to get this Catholic and Bible Study software. Visit http://www.logos.com/steveray

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St. Paul did NOT Write for Us!

May 18, 2014

When arguments about salvation arise between Catholics and Protestants, the Bibles are usually opened to Galatians and Romans. Are we saved by faith alone or are works involved? Protestants quickly accuse Catholics of teaching a salvation based on works and Catholics quickly point out that Protestants have swung the pendulum too far in the other [...]

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How Odd of God to Choose the Jew…

May 17, 2013

…to chose the Jew; but odder still are those who choose the Jewish God but hate the Jew.

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Pope Benedict’s “First Convert” – and a Jewish Convert at that

April 20, 2013

Groucho Marx once said, “I wouldn’t want to belong to any club that would have a guy like me as a member.”  So began my witness testimony at the Easter Vigil on April 7, 2007, when my wife Barbara and I entered the Catholic Church. For a New York Jew, who’d detested the name “Jesus” [...]

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Yad Vashem and “Hitler’s Pope”

January 16, 2013

Yad Vashem Controversy An inscription at Yad Vashem states that Pius XII‘s record during the Holocaust was controversial, and that he negotiated a concordat with the Nazis, maintained Vatican neutrality during the war and, formerly stated that he took no initiatives to save Jews. In 1985, Pietro Palazzini was honored by the museum, where he [...]

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On this I Agree with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

December 17, 2012

Prime Minister Netanyahu:  “Over the weekend, Hamas held festivities and demonstrations in Judea and Samaria to mark 25 years since it was founded. With the approval of Mahmud Abbas, they called for the destruction of Israel and the expulsion of Jews from Jerusalem and from every point in the State of Israel. We have been [...]

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Bet You’ve Never Heard of this Heroic, Selfless Woman

October 5, 2012

Remember this lady?Irena Sendler Died: May 12, 2008 (aged 98) in Warsaw, Poland  During WWII, Irena, got permission to work in the Warsaw ghetto, as a Plumbing/Sewer specialist. She had an ulterior motive.  Irena smuggled Jewish infants out in the bottom of the tool box she carried. She also carried a burlap sack in the back of her [...]

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Has Europe Lost it Soul?

February 2, 2012

Jesse Ray here: I found this article by Rabbi Sacks very educational and the section on “Morality and the Crisis” especially thought provoking. He explores how our current market economy was formed under the auspices of Judeo-Christian values, and he draws a compelling picture of why our current economic shake-up has a central spiritual dimension: [...]

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Another Jewish Convert Explains His Conversion to Catholicism

November 7, 2011

This is a nice story. I include a paragraph to whet your appetite. About a month later it was around midnight and I turned to my wife Mary in bed and asked her what she wanted. Mary said that she didn’t want anything other than to go back to sleep. I insisted that she wanted [...]

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Jewish to Evangelical to Catholic

September 16, 2011

Richard Maffeo Richard was born into a Jewish home in 1950. Twenty-two years later, he discovered Jesus is the Jewish Messiah, and served Him in evangelical Protestant churches for more than thirty-two years. In 2005 he was received into the Catholic Church. My movement in 1972 from Jewish faith to Christ was so profound an [...]

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What About the Pope’s Comments on the Jews and the Death of Christ

March 3, 2011

I was asked: I would like to ask you to please comment on the Popes recent statement that there is no scriptural basis that the Jews killed Jesus. http://www.examiner.com/jesus-christ-in-national/jesus-christ-not-killed-by-jews-says-pope-benedict-xvi My answer: It is not time to comment yet. Experience tells that when we read a media review of the Pope’s words it is usually twisted [...]

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