25. A living Bible

Question: In readings at daily Mass, there are constant references to Israel, Jerusalem and the Temple. Are these references a part of something that happened over 2,000 years ago, or are these words still in effect relating to present-day Israel? --George Wolfersberger, Ironton, Miss.

Answer: The question you ask is a good one, because to understand many present-day happenings we must understand the past. The historical books of the Old Testament are just that, the history of the Jewish people --but those books are not dead history.

Abraham was the father of the Jewish people (Israel). In chapters 15 and 17 of Genesis, God gives the land of Canaan to Abraham to own "as a permanent possession." Canaan embraces what is today Israel, along with parts of Jordan and Syria. Religious Jews take this promise of God as sufficient for their claim to ownership of the West Bank and the whole city of Jerusalem.

There is continuity to history. The Jerusalem of the past has developed into modern Jerusalem, a city sacred to the Jews. The Jewish temple was destroyed in A.D. 70 by the Romans, with only the Western Wall remaining. When the Muslims came, they built the Mosque of Omar, otherwise known as the Dome of the Rock, on the Temple mount. That is a sore point with today's Jews.

So when we read the Old and New Testament, we must remember that we are part of that history, sharing in a history that is not dead and gone, but still developing. Our Sunday Visitor

May 19, 1991

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