Pope Notes Link With Christianity and Judaism
Reflects on the Apostle James the Less
VATICAN CITY, JUNE 28, 2006 (www.Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI highlighted the inseparable relationship that unites Christianity and Judaism, when reflecting on the figure of the Apostle James the Less.
Addressing some 25,000 people gathered for today's general audience in St. Peter's Square, the Pope continued with the series of weekly meditations in which he is reflecting on the figures of the Twelve Apostles to illustrate the origin and identity of the Church.
The author of one of the New Testament letters, James the Less intervened in the Council of Jerusalem, at the height of the apostles' debate on whether non-Jewish converts to Christianity should be subject to the Mosaic law, the Pope noted.
According to the proposal, mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles and accepted by all the apostles present, circumcision was not necessary for Gentiles who believed in Jesus Christ.
The converts were only asked to abstain from the idolatrous custom of eating the flesh of animals offered in sacrifice to the gods, and from "immodesty," a term that probably alluded to marital unions without consent, Benedict XVI said.
"In practice, it was a question of adhering to only a few prohibitions, held rather important by the Mosaic legislation," explained the Pontiff. "In this way, two significant and complementary results were obtained, both still valid."
On one hand, he clarified, "the unbreakable relationship is recognized that links Christianity to the Jewish religion as its perennial living and valid matrix; on the other, Christians of pagan origin are allowed to preserve their own sociological identity, which they would have lost if they had been constrained to observe the so-called Mosaic ceremonial precepts.
"In essence, a reciprocal practice of esteem and respect was being initiated, which, notwithstanding subsequent unfortunate misunderstandings, sought by its nature to safeguard all that was characteristic of each of the two sides."