Thursday, January 1, 2009

From protestant orthodox catholicism to Israel

How far is the distance to unity? The JTS commentary on the unity of Joseph and Judah through this week's Parashat Va-yiggash contains this quote from Heschel (1955)

Why is my belonging to the Jewish people the most sacred relation to me, second only to my relation to God? Israel is a spiritual order in which the human and the ultimate, the natural and the holy enter a lasting covenant, in which kinship with God is not an aspiration but a reality of destiny. For us Jews there can be no fellowship with God without the fellowship with Israel. Abandoning Israel, we desert God.
I wondered about my belonging to Israel in Christ. My last post on Mary reflects the Anointed as incarnate. This Man became a life-giving Spirit. Yet what can I say of my protestant relationship to Mary who takes up in herself the Vine - and incorporates into one body the Word of God. That protestant relationship deriving from schism hardly predisposes me to any sense of unity that can be expressed in words. The problem with me and Heschel is one of sin. It is manifestly clear in the JTS commentary. Rabbi Ackerman has identified a problem - but the solution is not Jewish unity as if it could be separated from unity with all those who suffer in the created order.

In both these posts, we can relate to Romans. Here a Jew tells us of the life-giving Spirit from the second Adam. Here a Jew notes that God is not only the God of the Jews, but of the Gentiles also. Trouble everywhere. Jewish unity apart from the Gentiles is parochialism, not unity. Catholic or Orthodox or Protestant unity is a splintered rock. From the beginning it has missed its unity with Israel. We are each an affront to the other.

What if I were to try and imitate Heschel? I cannot claim any belonging. I cannot claim any "most sacred relation second only to God" that would not become an idol for me. I cannot claim a spiritual order - church, confession, or nation that replaces the covenant in flesh through the circumcision of the cross and Spirit that is mine through the Anointed of Israel. I will not separate aspiration from reality of destiny. My unity is not dependent on time. My aspiration is the breath of God who as Spirit anoints now through the death of the incarnate Christ, Jesus. How can I claim such disclaimers? Has God abandoned us in our disunity?

Why can we not do what is right?

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