Saturday, April 19, 2014
Holy Week and Jesus the Jew
On Thursday many gathered in Kansas to remember three people gunned down by a man in his seventies. This individual killed his victims at two different Jewish centres, randomly shooting them because they were Jewish. Except they weren't. The 14-year-old boy and his grandfather were Methodists and the woman was Roman Catholic. It would have been senseless under any circumstances but became even more bizarre when this news was released.
That is the nature of hatred though. Religion conviction can so easily be conscripted as the "reason" for despising those who are different, but the truth is that this is only one of many. The hate-mongers of the Westboro Baptist Church were present to spew their evil but the prevailing tone of the memorial was tolerance, acceptance and respect.
I was aware Thursday that Holy Week has been a time through the centuries for suspicion and hatred of Jews to surface. It was the reality of the Middle Ages when priests would stir up Christians to retaliate against the Christ-killers, as they were portrayed. The same happened in Nazi Germany when those in power encouraged Lutherans to attack their Jewish neighbours using The Nazis used Martin Luther's book, On the Jews and Their Lies as justification.
My mother, now 88, remembers strong anti-Jewish sentiment in the Toronto of her childhood, and the widely held believe amongst Christians that Jews should be rejected because they had rejected Jesus as their messiah.
This can be a time of repentance for anti-Jewish attitudes and sentiments in Christian teaching and for renewed commitment to respectful conversation between religions.