Monday, December 14, 2015

Met Georges Khodr: Sunday of the Forefathers

Arabic original here. Presumably, this article, which appeared in the newspaper an-Nahar is at least partly written in response to this, a document that clearly did not take into account the concerns of non-European Christians.

Sunday of the Forefathers

On the Sunday of the Fathers, which follows this Sunday, there is discussion of Christ's descent from Abraham-- that is, from a believing lineage. Today, however, the discussion is about Jesus of Nazareth's descent from those who preceded Abraham-- that is, from the pagan gentiles. Thus, the emphasis in Western Christianity on Christ's descent from the Jews does not reflect the complete picture that He wanted for Himself: His descent from all humanity. The human concern is for us to stress His descent from the prophets of Israel, but not at the expense of the humanity of our stressing that He is the Son of all humanity.

In His flesh, Christ came from Mary-- that is, from the Jews. The Church expresses this on the Sunday of the Fathers. The Bible says that He came from Abraham and Abraham himself came from Ur of the Chaldeans, from today's Iraq-- that is, from the gentiles. Thus Jesus was from the nations that were not Jewish. When the Church established this Sunday and called it the Sunday of the Forefathers-- that is, those who preceded Abraham-- it was because she wanted to say that the Lord is also from the gentiles.

Therefore we do not only descend from the Jews. The greater part of us came from the gentiles and along with the gentiles who became Christian, we have become part of God's People through baptism. After Christianity emerged from Palestine, non-Jews became the majority in the Church and the Church does not ask any of her members if their father was Jewish or gentile. This is an issue that we have completely overcome.

Christ appears on this Sunday as the descendant of the peoples and not only the descendant of the Jewish people. God prepared them to receive Christ through the Gospel.

There is an exaggerated emphasis in the Christian West on Christ's Jewishness, ignoring what Paul said about Jews and barbarians, that is Jews and non-Jews, being one in Christ Jesus. The West certainly emphasized His Jewish origin in order to combat Nazism, which persecuted the Jews. But there is now no need for this after the end of Nazism.

To my mind, we must stress the Sunday of the Forefathers after the Christian West, faced with Hitler, insisted on stressing His connection to the Old Testament. This is a stage of Western thought that we have passed. Our real need, after the modern world has accepted the Jews in its societies, is for us to stress Christ's universality and so to stress the Sunday of the Forefathers with the same vigor as the Sunday of the Fathers.

We must stress Christ's fleshly origin because He is a man who saved us in His flesh-- that is, in His humanity and this does not cause us to forget His divinity. We are saved through both natures.

We do not have a complex about the Jews spiritually, after having gone past them. We hope for their salvation in Christ-- that is, if they come to know Him. Our connection to them remains the same-- in our hope that they will be baptized. Anything other than this is sentimentalism.

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