Tuesday, February 17, 2009


The following came from a posting in the Catholic Debate Forum by a subscriber named "Kathryn" and I felt it worthy of repeating here (with minor edits by me).

REMEMBRANCE is different for Jews and Catholics than for Protestants.  Zwingli when he insisted that Holy Communion was merely symbolic wrenched the whole thing out of its biblically established environment. He absolutely destroyed the whole biblical meaning of it and left his adherents virtually bankrupt. Calvin did not go so far but also missed the meaning or what Christ Jesus instituted. Luther attempted to have his cake and eat it too (no pun intended).  
It has to do also with the Jewish concept of TIME as opposed to the Gentile concept of a long string of hours and days but to dig into that deeply here would confuse the biblical Jewish / Catholic beginners understanding ---- let's call it Remembrance 101. Also, our "reformers" were Rennaisance men who took the enlightened man position and moved understanding fully into their own time as though Christianity was "coming of age."
In order to get it right as Christians, we need to know what it meant to the Jews (who, by the way, we are far closer to as Catholics than we are to Protesants). This is just one of the things that is so tragic in the trend in some circles to "protestantize" the Catholic Church. (I digress)...
Below is a Messianic Jewish rabbi's explanation of REMEMBRANCE in the biblical sense, which is the Jewish sense, which is the Catholic sense but not the Protestant sense. This again is a thing that renders Catholics - Protestants incomunicado...
The following is borrowed from "A Discussion of Messianic Judaism, the Emerging Messianic Jewish Paradigm, ..... of Rabbi Stuart Dauermann, PhD. 
Rabbi DAuermann is speaking of the Jewish concept of REMEMBRANCE (zikkaron / anamnesis). He writes:
 "The remembered event [in the now] is equally a valid witness to Israel’s encounter with God as the first witness (Childs, 89). 

We see new facets of the past as we grapple with the Holy One in the present, using the template of the past as a framework for self-understanding. When we encounter the story of the Exodus, we grapple with the God who redeemed us just as truly as did the Exodus generation. Our response now to the record of his saving mercies is as real and as consequential as was theirs, and the consequences of careless disregard, no less significant. We are as culpable for ingratitude as were they. “Today, if you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.” 

The Holy Past is Present as Catalytic Memory: With Judicial Power 

“Each generation of Israel, living in a concrete situation within history, was challenged by God to obedient response through the medium of her tradition. Not a mere subjective reflection, but in the biblical category, a real event as a moment of redemptive time from the past initiated a genuine encounter in the present” (Childs, 83-84). The events of Israel’s redemption were such significant realizations in history of divine redemptive intervention, that together with the rituals, rites, and commandments they entail, they have the authority to assess each successive generation of Israel, including ours. Our response to these events, rites, rituals and obligations, is our response to God, for which we are accountable. 

The Haggadah, echoing the Talmud, agrees. It reminds us, “In every generation a man is bound to regard himself as though he personally had gone forth from Egypt. (cf. TB Pesachim). Torah tells us of Passover, "'This will be a day for you to remember [v’haya hayom hazzeh lachem l’zikkaron].” The LXX translates zikkaron as “anamnesis.” It is also the term used in the Newer Covenant underlying the phrase, “Do this in remembrance of me.”

The holy past is no mere collection of data to be recalled, but a continuing reality to be honored or desecrated. As a zikkaron, a holy memorial, the redemption from Egypt is so authoritatively present with us at the seder, that a cavalier attitude toward the event marks as “The Wicked Son,” unworthy of redemption, anyone who fails to accord it due respect. In zikkaron or anamnesis, the holy past is present with power, assessing our response.

This is a new perspective for some of us and surely for most of our Movement. It makes us wriggle with discomfort because it contravenes our axiomatic commitment to autonomy. We reflexively think ourselves to only be responsible when we choose to be so. The Bible, and our tradition disagrees; hence the discomfort. 

That anamnesis has intrusive and unavoidable authority to judge our response is proven in Paul’s discussion of the Lord’s Table. In First Corinthians 11, he states that those who fail to discern the reality present among them in the zikkaron/anamnesis, who drink the Lord’s cup and eat the bread in an unworthy manner, desecrate the body and blood of the Lord and eat and drink judgment upon themselves. He makes this point unambiguous when be states “This is why many among you are weak and sick, and some have died.” 

Because of this numinous power of zikkaron/anemesis, honoring the holy Jewish past and the holy Jewish future as re-presented in the liturgy, ritual, and calendar of our people must become a lived reality in our movement. Our only other option is to dishonor God and to trifle with his holy saving acts. I think it no exaggeration to say that failure to properly honor our holy past, present as zikkaron/anamnesis, is just as truly an act of desecration as was the failure of the Corinthians to honor body and blood of Messiah present in their midst in the bread and the wine.

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