The Church’s Mission
The Catholic Church believes that God is and should be the organizing principle of our lives and the source of all that we need, as against Satan’s forces who believe that men organized as governments are and should be the organizing principle of our lives and the source of all that we need.
Rabbi Yeshua’s mission for the Church is to make us saints, by our witness to his love for us, expressed most vividly in the Sacrament of his Body and Blood, first to Jews (“Jerusalem and in all Judea”) but also “to the end of the earth” Acts 1:8 during our long journey to heaven.
Rabbi Yeshua gave Holy Mother Church her mission of evangelization in Scripture at Mt 22:37–40, Mt 28:19–20, Jn 21:15–17 and Acts 1:8, in St. John Paul II,’s Redemptoris Missio, and in the Catechism § 849-856 and 2044-2046.
For now, Satan’s forces occupy the formative professions, the commanding heights of American culture. They are most of the public school teachers, college professors, politicians, entertainers, journalists, attorneys, and judges. These are the most prominent formative professions; collectively they form the perspectives of tens of millions of Americans. They have gravitated to these professions. Many devout Catholics, evangelicals and other conservatives live honest and productive lives in professions that were not chosen for their distributive potential. The engineers who design our cars and computers are often brilliant, but the days of their lives go by as they influence mainly their own children and immediate friends.
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets” Mt 22:37–40.
“You shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth” Acts 1:8.
Rabbi Yeshua said, “I am the good shepherd” Jn 10:11. The good shepherd asked Rabbi Kefa, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” Rabbi Kefa replied, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Rabbi Yeshua said to Rabbi Kefa, ‘Feed my lambs’ Jn 21:15. A second time Rabbi Yeshua said to Rabbi Kefa, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me?’ Rabbi Kefa replied, ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.’ Rabbi Yeshua said to Rabbi Kefa, ‘Tend my sheep’ Jn 21:16. Rabbi Yeshua asked Rabbi Kefa a third time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me?’ Rabbi Kefa was grieved because he said to him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ And Rabbi Kefa said to Rabbi Yeshua, ‘Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.’ Rabbi Yeshua said to him, ‘Feed my sheep’” Jn 21:17.
§ 1 The mission of Christ the Redeemer, which is entrusted to the Church, is still very far from completion. As the second millennium after Christ’s coming draws to an end, an overall view of the human race shows that this mission is still only beginning and that we must commit ourselves wholeheartedly to its service. It is the Spirit who impels us to proclaim the great works of God: “For if I preach the Gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!” 1 Cor 9:16.
In the name of the whole Church, I sense an urgent duty to repeat this cry of St. Paul. From the beginning of my Pontificate I have chosen to travel to the ends of the earth in order to show this missionary concern. My direct contact with peoples who do not know Christ has convinced me even more of the urgency of missionary activity, a subject to which I am devoting the present encyclical.
The Second Vatican Council sought to renew the Church’s life and activity in the light of the needs of the contemporary world. The Council emphasized the Church’s “missionary nature,” basing it in a dynamic way on the Trinitarian mission itself. The missionary thrust therefore belongs to the very nature of the Christian life, and is also the inspiration behind ecumenism: “that they may all be one…so that the world may believe that you have sent me” Jn 17:21.
§ 31, “First, there is the missionary activity which we call mission ad gentes, in reference to the opening words of the Council’s decree on this subject. This is one of the Church’s fundamental activities: it is essential and never-ending. The Church, in fact, cannot withdraw from her permanent mission of bringing the Gospel to the multitudes the millions and millions of men and women-who as yet do not know Christ the Redeemer of humanity. In a specific way this is the missionary work which Jesus entrusted and still entrusts each day to his Church.”
§ 32, “Today we face a religious situation which is extremely varied and changing. Peoples are on the move; social and religious realities which were once clear and well defined are today increasingly complex. We need only think of certain phenomena such as urbanization, mass migration, the flood of refugees, the de-Christianization of countries with ancient Christian traditions, the increasing influence of the Gospel and its values in overwhelmingly non-Christian countries, and the proliferation of messianic cults and religious sects. Religious and social upheaval makes it difficult to apply in practice certain ecclesial distinctions and categories to which we have become accustomed.”
§ 849 The missionary mandate. Having been divinely sent to the nations that she might be the universal sacrament of salvation, the Church, in obedience to the command of her founder and because it is demanded by her own essential universality, strives to preach the Gospel to all men: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and Lo, I am with you always, until the close of the age.”
§ 850 The origin and purpose of mission. The Lord’s missionary mandate is ultimately grounded in the eternal love of the Most Holy Trinity: The Church on earth is by her nature missionary since, according to the plan of the Father, she has as her origin the mission of the Son and the Holy Spirit. The ultimate purpose of mission is none other than to make men share in the communion between the Father and the Son in their Spirit of love.
§ 851 Missionary motivation. It is from God’s love for all men that the Church in every age receives both the obligation and the vigor of her missionary dynamism, for the love of Christ urges us on. Indeed, God desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth; that is, God wills the salvation of everyone through the knowledge of the truth. Salvation is found in the truth. Those who obey the prompting of the Spirit of truth are already on the way of salvation. But the Church, to whom this truth has been entrusted, must go out to meet their desire, so as to bring them the truth. Because she believes in God’s universal plan of salvation, the Church must be missionary.
§ 852 Missionary paths. The Holy Spirit is the protagonist, the principal agent of the whole of the Church’s mission. It is he who leads the Church on her missionary paths. This mission continues and, in the course of history, unfolds the mission of Christ, who was sent to evangelize the poor; so the Church, urged on by the Spirit of Christ, must walk the road Christ himself walked, a way of poverty and obedience, of service and self-sacrifice even to death, a death from which he emerged victorious by his resurrection. So it is that the blood of martyrs is the seed of Christians.
§ 853 On her pilgrimage, the Church has also experienced the discrepancy existing between the message she proclaims and the human weakness of those to whom the Gospel has been entrusted. Only by taking the way of penance and renewal, the narrow way of the cross, can the People of God extend Christ’s reign. For just as Christ carried out the work of redemption in poverty and oppression, so the Church is called to follow the same path if she is to communicate the fruits of salvation to men.
§ 854 By her very mission, the Church travels the same journey as all humanity and shares the same earthly lot with the world: She is to be a leaven and, as it were, the soul of human society in its renewal by Christ and transformation into the family of God. Missionary endeavor requires patience. It begins with the proclamation of the Gospel to peoples and groups who do not yet believe in Christ, continues with the establishment of Christian communities that are a sign of God’s presence in the world, and leads to the foundation of local churches. It must involve a process of inculturation if the Gospel is to take flesh in each people’s culture. There will be times of defeat. With regard to individuals, groups, and peoples it is only by degrees that the Church touches and penetrates them and so receives them into a fullness which is Catholic.
§ 855 The Church’s mission stimulates efforts towards Christian unity. Indeed, divisions among Christians prevent the Church from realizing in practice the fullness of catholicity proper to her in those of her sons who, though joined to her by Baptism, are yet separated from full communion with her. Furthermore, the Church herself finds it more difficult to express in actual life her full catholicity in all its aspects.
§ 856 The missionary task implies a respectful dialogue with those who do not yet accept the Gospel. Believers can profit from this dialogue by learning to appreciate better those elements of truth and grace which are found among peoples, and which are, as it were, a secret presence of God. They proclaim the Good News to those who do not know it, in order to consolidate, complete, and raise up the truth and the goodness that God has distributed among men and nations, and to purify them from error and evil for the glory of God, the confusion of the demon, and the happiness of man.
§ 2044 The fidelity of the baptized is a primordial condition for the proclamation of the Gospel and for the Church’s mission in the world. In order that the message of salvation can show the power of its truth and radiance before men, it must be authenticated by the witness of the life of Christians. The witness of a Christian life and good works done in a supernatural spirit have great power to draw men to the faith and to God.
§ 2045 Because they are members of the Body whose Head is Christ, Christians contribute to building up the Church by the constancy of their convictions and their moral lives. the Church increases, grows, and develops through the holiness of her faithful, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.
§ 2046 By living with the mind of Christ, Christians hasten the coming of the Reign of God, a kingdom of justice, love, and peace. They do not, for all that, abandon their earthly tasks; faithful to their master, they fulfill them with uprightness, patience, and love.
The Catholic Mission and the Jews
St. John Paul II
Is missionary work among non-Christians still relevant? Has it not been replaced by inter-religious dialogue? Is not human development an adequate goal of the Church’s mission? Does not respect for conscience and for freedom exclude all efforts at conversion? Is it not possible to attain salvation in any religion? Why then should there be missionary activity?
In reply to the Jewish religious authorities who question the apostles about the healing of the lame man, Peter says: “By the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by him this man is standing before you well … And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:10, 12). This statement, which was made to the Sanhedrin, has a universal value, since for all people — Jews and Gentiles alike — salvation can only come from Jesus Christ.
Correcting Two Opposite Errors
Supersession theology, also called replacement theology or fulfillment theology, says that the Christian Church has superseded the Israelites as the definitive people of God. Phrased differently, supersession says that Rabbi Yeshua‘s new and eternal covenant has replaced the Mosaic covenant.
Supersession: The Catholic Church Rejects It
The History of Supersession
On the part of many of the Church Fathers the so-called replacement theory or supersessionism steadily gained favor until in the Middle Ages it represented the standard theological foundation of the relationship with Judaism: the promises and commitments of God would no longer apply to Israel because it had not recognized Jesus as the Messiah and the Son of God, but had been transferred to the Church of Jesus Christ which was now the true ‘new Israel’, the new chosen people of God. Arising from the same soil, Judaism and Christianity in the centuries after their separation became involved in a theological antagonism which was only to be defused at the Second Vatican Council.
The earlier theology had been rooted in the Epistle to the Hebrews. GCGI § 18 explains,
This Epistle, however, is not directed to the Jews but rather to the Christians of Jewish background who have become weary and uncertain. Its purpose is to strengthen their faith and to encourage them to persevere, by pointing to Christ Jesus as the true and ultimate high priest, the mediator of the new covenant.
We have all seen Rabbi Yeshua‘s proclamation to the multitudes, “If any one comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple” Lk 14:26. Many new Catholics remember Rabbi Yeshua’s own words, “Honor your father and your mother” Mt 15:4, “Love your neighbor as yourself” Mt 22:39. “Love one another” Jn 13:34–35. Some of them wonder what his proclamation to the multitudes might mean. However, more experienced Catholics know that Rabbi Yeshua looks for agape love. Hebrew and Aramaic in his time had no comparatives, no words for “more than” or “less than.” To express a comparative they said you have to love this but hate that. It was well understood. In modern English it meant, “You have to love me more than your own family, more than your own life.”
GCGI § 18 recognizes that the Epistle to the Hebrews is written in that style, and gives examples.
This context is necessary to understand the Epistle’s contrast between the first purely earthly covenant and a second better (cf. Heb 8:7) and new covenant (cf. 9:15, 12:24). The first covenant is defined as outdated, in decline and doomed to obsolescence (cf. 8:13), while the second covenant is defined as everlasting (cf. 13:20). To establish the foundations of this contrast the Epistle refers to the promise of a new covenant in the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah 31:31–34 (cf. Heb 8:8–12). This demonstrates that the Epistle to the Hebrews has no intention of proving the promises of the Old Covenant to be false, but on the contrary treats them as valid.
GCGI § 18 continues.
At issue in the Epistle to the Hebrews is not the contrast of the Old and New Covenants as we understand them today, nor a contrast between the church and Judaism. Rather, the contrast is between the eternal heavenly priesthood of Christ and the transitory earthly priesthood. The fundamental issue in the Epistle to the Hebrews in the new situation is a Christological interpretation of the New Covenant. For exactly this reason, Nostra aetate (No.4) did not refer to the Epistle to the Hebrews, but rather to Saint Paul’s reflections in his letter to the Romans 9–11.
Supersession In Our Time
GCGI § 1 “The dark and terrible shadow of the Shoah over Europe during the Nazi period led the Church to reflect anew on her bond with the Jewish people.” During that time Pope Pius XII and the Catholic Church rescued some 860,000 Jews. Nostra aetate § 4 expressed the Church’s new perspective:
Thus the Church of Christ acknowledges that, according to God’s saving design, the beginnings of her faith and her election are found already among the Patriarchs, Moses and the prophets. She professes that all who believe in Christ — Abraham’s sons according to faith are included in the same Patriarch’s call, and likewise that the salvation of the Church is mysteriously foreshadowed by the chosen people’s exodus from the land of bondage. The Church, therefore, cannot forget that she received the revelation of the Old Testament through the people with whom God in His inexpressible mercy concluded the Ancient Covenant. Nor can she forget that she draws sustenance from the root of that well-cultivated olive tree onto which have been grafted the wild shoots, the Gentiles. Indeed, the Church believes that by His cross Christ, Our Peace, reconciled Jews and Gentiles, making both one in Himself.
GCGI continues in the same direction. In fact, its title emphasizes the Church’s strong rejection of supersession theology. God still loves the Jewish people. He gave them a gift and calling that are irrevocable Rom 11:29. GCGI says § 23:
The Church is called the new people of God (cf. Nostra aetate, No.4) but not in the sense that the people of God of Israel has ceased to exist … The Church does not replace the people of God of Israel, since as the community founded on Christ it represents in him the fulfilment of the promises made to Israel. This does not mean that Israel, not having achieved such a fulfilment, can no longer be considered to be the people of God.
The relationship of the Church with the Jewish People. When she delves into her own mystery, the Church, the People of God in the New Covenant, discovers her link with the Jewish People, the first to hear the Word of God. The Jewish faith, unlike other non-Christian religions, is already a response to God’s revelation in the Old Covenant. To the Jews belong the sonship, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; to them belong the patriarchs, and of their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, for the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable.
Rabbi Paul prophesied, “For if you have been cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these natural branches be grafted back into their own olive tree” Rom 11:24. “And so all Israel shall be saved” Rom 11:26.
It cannot be that Judaism is of no further use to the Catholic Church. God‘s national revelation to Moses is forever part of the Church. The first five books of the Catholic Bible are the Torah! Four-fifths of the Catholic Bible is the Tanakh!
St. John Paul II declared, in his allocution to the Jewish community of West Germany at Mainz, on November 17th, 1980, quoted in GCGI § 33: “the people of God of the Old Covenant, which has never been revoked.”
To correctly understand St. John Paul II, we recall that the Church distinguishes between the Torah’s moral and ceremonial law. Judaism has understood for two thousand years that God himself fulfilled the ceremonial law in AD 70 on the Ninth of Av. No widely recognized Jewish tradition continues to practice the animal sacrifices Lev 1:1–9 prescribed by the Torah.
The moral law embodied in the Mosaic Covenant Ex 24:7–8 remains in full force. Catholic moral law is firmly grounded in the Ten Commandments, which God gave Israel on Mt. Sinai. The Catechism section on it runs from § 2052 to § 2557, a total of 505 numbered paragraphs, about 18 percent of its 2,865 numbered paragraphs. Some of us see that 18 as khai.
Why do we say that Rabbi Yeshua fulfilled, rather than superseded, the ceremonial law? True, the ceremonial law does not bind Christians, but God put it in the Tanakh for a reason, and inspired the Catholic Church to retain it in the Christian Bible, where it has remained for more than 1,600 years. All Christians therefore remain obligated to reflect on these laws and look for God‘s will in them.
For instance, God commanded that the Passover sacrifice be an ordinance forever in the Temple Deut 12:5–6; Deut 16:5–6. Then he took away the Temple, which meant the ceremonial law could no longer be celebrated. So, reflecting on the Temple’s karbanot, sacrifices, we see that the Passover sacrifice must be continuing in some form.
The Catholic Church is the new Israel. The historical continuity between the Old Testament and New Testament binds us together in the one Catholic Canon of Sacred Scripture. In his Sermon on the Mount Rabbi Yeshua proclaimed,
Do not think that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished Mt 5:17–18.
What then of Rabbinic Judaism? Fulfilling its eternal election, it stands as the living witness to God’s national revelation through Moses. Rabbi Yeshua taught us, “Salvation is from the Jews” Jn 4:22. At the very dawn of Christianity Rabbi Paul wrote:
They are Israelites, and to them belong the sonship, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; to them belong the patriarchs, and of their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, be blessed for ever. Amen Rom 9:4–5.
We hold that the Tanakh as the first of God’s two great revelations to man will remain eternally important in salvation history until the end of time, based firmly on Scripture. Rabbi Paul taught us what Rabbi Yeshua had taught him Jn 20:21. “I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew” Rom 11:1–2. “As regards election they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers. For the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable” Rom 11:28–29.
Rabbi Paul declared: “For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead?” Rom 11:15. The Catechism explains Rabbi Paul’s prophesy as authoritative Catholic teaching :
§ 674 The glorious Messiah’s coming is suspended at every moment of history until his recognition by all Israel, for a hardening has come upon part of Israel in their unbelief toward Jesus. St. Peter says to the Jews of Jerusalem after Pentecost: “Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for establishing all that God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old.”
In the end, the Catholic understanding is this: Catechism § 1257 tells us, “The Lord himself affirms that Baptism is necessary for salvation.” However, it adds at § 1260, “Every man who is ignorant of the Gospel of Christ and of his Church, but seeks the truth and does the will of God in accordance with his understanding of it, can be saved. It may be supposed that such persons would have desired Baptism explicitly if they had known its necessity.” Jews who remain apart from Rabbi Yeshua are saved through his mercy.
Dual Covenant Theology: The Catholic Church Rejects It
On August 12, 2002, an ongoing dialogue between the delegates of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs (USBCEIA) and the National Council of Synagogues publicly released a joint statement entitled Reflections on Covenant and Mission. It was placed on the USCCB web site, which gave the impression that it had been approved by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
In fact, it had not been approved by the bishops. It had not been approved even by the US Bishops’ Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs. It was put up on the site by some delegates from the USBCEIA. Cardinal William H. Keeler of Baltimore, the Catholic co-chairman of the dialogue group, explained on August 16 that the document was unofficial and was published with the purpose of encouraging serious reflection on the issues in both the Catholic and Jewish communities. It remained on the USCCB web site for about two months and was then quietly withdrawn.
However, the “dual-covenant” theological issue of whether Jews live in a separate saving covenant, the heart of the controversy, belongs not to the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (at that time governed by Cardinal Kasper) but to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
Reflections on Covenant and Mission stated, “A deepening Catholic appreciation of the eternal covenant between God and the Jewish people, together with a recognition of a divinely given mission to Jews to witness to God’s faithful love, lead to the conclusion that campaigns that target Jews for conversion to Christianity are no longer theologically acceptable in the Catholic Church.”
Reflections was correct in saying that campaigns that target Jews for conversion to Christianity are no longer acceptable to the Church. Holy Mother Church’s emerging prudent judgment is that evangelizing Jews is best done quietly by individual Catholics through the testimony of life, answering questions raised by inquiring Jews, Jewish-Catholic dialogue, web sites that Jews may visit if they wish, and similar conversations. Catholics understand Judaism is an earlier form of God’s true revelation to man, and that Catholic faith is the fulfillment and completion of Judaism. However, the need to evangelize Jews in some way remains with us.
Cardinal Dulles’ Response
Certainly the most important response was written by Cardinal Avery Dulles SJ,, called “Covenant and Mission,” published on October 21, 2002, in the Jesuit weekly magazine America:
This view of evangelization is difficult to reconcile with the teaching of recent popes. Paul VI declared in his 1975 apostolic exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi that, “There is no true evangelization if the name, the teaching, the life, the promises, the Kingdom, and the mystery of Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God, are not proclaimed” (No. 22). He added: “Evangelization will also always contain—as the foundation, center, and at the same time summit of its dynamism—a clear proclamation that, in Jesus Christ, salvation is offered to all men, as a gift of God’s grace and mercy” (No. 27). John Paul II quotes these words approvingly in his 1990 encyclical Redemptoris Missio (No. 44).
In Ecclesia in America, an apostolic exhortation published in 1999 after the Special Assembly for America of the Synod of Bishops, the pope, referring again to Paul VI, writes: “The vital core of the new evangelization must be a clear and unequivocal proclamation of the person of Jesus Christ” (No. 66). Covenant and Mission presents a concept of evangelization in which this vital core is dispensable. Unlike the popes, it seems to say that Christians can evangelize without pronouncing the name of Jesus.
Cardinal Dulles also addressed the term mission.
The Jewish reflections tried to suggest that, “mission” refers only to conversion from false gods and idols to the true and one God. Cardinal Dulles responded: “Mission” and cognate terms in the New Testament and in traditional Catholic usage extend both to the Jews and to the Gentiles, not just the latter, although differences are of course recognized between the two groups (Acts 3:26; Gal. 2:8 and elsewhere). Even if, with Cardinal Kasper, one were to limit “mission” to the apostolate to the Gentiles, the church would not be absolved of her God-given responsibility to proclaim Christ to all the world. Peter on Pentecost Sunday declared that the whole house of Israel should know for certain that Jesus is Lord and Messiah and that every one of his hearers should be baptized in Jesus’ name (Acts 2:38). Paul spent much of his ministry proclaiming the Gospel to Jews throughout the diaspora. Distressed by their incredulity, he was prepared to wish himself accursed for the sake of their conversion (Rom. 9:3).
The Association of Hebrew Catholics overwhelmingly reflected the Church’s rejection of dual-covenant theology. David Moss published a follow-up article, “Should Catholics … In the Wake of ‘Reflections on Covenant and Mission.’ Marty published two articles. Catholic Teaching on Evangelizing Jews appeared in The Hebrew Catholic § 77, Summer-Fall 2002, p. 23. That issue also had many other comments. The other, “Reflections on Covenant and Mission: A Response,” appeared in Homiletic & Pastoral Review magazine, June 2003. The Hebrew Catholic § 78, Winter-Spring 2003 had many more comments.
The theological assertion that Jews live in a separate saving covenant may be swiftly demolished: Rabbi Yeshua, during His entire public ministry, evangelized only Jews. “Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” Mt 10:5–6. “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” Mt 15:24.
At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit ’s miracle highlighting the universality of the Catholic Church was an evangelization of Jews. “Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in his own language” Acts 2:5–6. “Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them … be it known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus of Nazareth … there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” Acts 4:8–12.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church, § 1226, states: “The apostles and their collaborators offer Baptism to anyone who believed in Jesus: Jews, the God-fearing, pagans.”
Rabbi Yeshua said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” Jn 3:5. He was speaking to Nicodemus, a devout Jew and member of the Sanhedrin. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, § 1257, says, “The Lord himself affirms that Baptism is necessary for salvation. He also commands his disciples to proclaim the Gospel to all nations and to baptize them. Baptism is necessary for salvation for those to whom the Gospel has been proclaimed and who have had the possibility of asking for this sacrament. The Church does not know of any means other than Baptism that assures entry into eternal beatitude; this is why she takes care not to neglect the mission she has received from the Lord to see that all who can be baptized are ‘reborn of water and the Spirit.’
It adds, at § 1260, “Every man who is ignorant of the Gospel of Christ and of his Church, but seeks the truth and does the will of God in accordance with his understanding of it, can be saved. It may be supposed that such persons would have desired Baptism explicitly if they had known its necessity.”
St. John Paul II’s encyclical Redemptoris Missio, “The Mission of Christ the Redeemer,” and the Catechism of the Catholic Church § 849-856 and § 2044-2046 hold clearly that Holy Mother Church has a mission to the Jews, which is to be fulfilled with grace and charity.
Second Exodus Mission
Second Exodus seeks to help all Israel discover her Mashiakh and thereby open the way for the Second Coming § 674. Rabbi Yeshua‘s revelation fulfills and completes the Father’s earlier revelation to Moses, so the ingrafting Rom 11:23 will complete the Catholic Church.
This mission is by God’s grace and power. Rabbi Yeshua told his first shlikhim, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” Mt 4:19. But he also told them, “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” Jn 15:5. At the Sea of Tiberias, Rabbi Kefa and several of Rabbi Yeshua’s other shlikhim were fishing all night but caught nothing Jn 21:3. From the shore, the risen Rabbi Yeshua told them to cast their nets on the other side of the boat Jn 21:6. These lifelong fishermen knew that in earthly terms fishing from the other side of the boat would only produce the same result, but Rabbi Yeshua had said it so they obeyed, and caught 153 fish Jn 21:11. At that time there were said to be 153 known species of fish, reminding us that Rabbi Yeshua would open his Church to men from every nation Acts 10:34–35.
Second Exodus does not reach out to Jews. We do not ring your doorbell or your telephone. We do not initiate contact in any way. We merely sit here silently in our small corner of cyberspace waiting for Rabbi Yeshua to bring whom he will. But we are Catholic. Rabbi Yeshua commanded us, “You shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth” Acts 1:8. “Jerusalem and in all Judea.” He put the Jews first Mt 10:6; 15:24. And so we say, “Hear O Israel!”