I encountered an opinion that the Old Covenant is still valid and that Israel is still the Chosen Nation of God. I haven't checked the accuracy of the source, but I read on the Internet that St. John Paul II said that "God has never revoked the Old Covenant". Also, St. Paul wrote in Romans 11 a difficult passage about the Jews, particularly in Romans 11:29 :

"For the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable." (RSV).

On the other hand, in my language, during the Liturgy of Good Friday, something like "Jews that used to be Chosen Nation in past" is said. (Some say that's a wrong translation; I didn't check the Latin original). Also, the parable of the vineyard in Matthew 21 says:

"Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation producing the fruits of it." (v. 43).

This seems to state that the Church replaced Israel as a Chosen People.

So, what is the Catholic solution to this seeming contradiction?

  • See this answer to a similar question. – Andrew Aug 7 '15 at 21:21
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    The Catholic Church is the New Israel. Where's the contradiction in that? – Geremia Aug 8 '15 at 6:56
  • @Andrew Thanks, it helped a bit but that's not exactly what I looked for. – Karol Aug 8 '15 at 18:07
  • @Geremia Some say that since "gifts and call of God are irrevocable", nation of Israel has still special status. – Karol Aug 8 '15 at 18:07
  • @Karol The conversion of the Jews is a precondition for the General Judgment / end of world (Romans 11:25-26), but Jews shouldn't be confused with what some people nowadays call the "State of Israel," a Zionist creation. Not all Jews are Zionists (and vice versa). – Geremia Aug 8 '15 at 20:40

The apparent 'contradiction' you seem to note needn't be a 'contradiction'. I'll illuminate on that point.

In our 21st century eyes, Israel is the nation located in the Middle East. But in biblical language, 'Israel' is more precisely the people whom God graces and interacts with through covenants. God's promise is to 'Israel'. It should be understood however that throughout the bible we find that the covenants God makes are always upheld solely by God, where 'Israel' forsakes their end of the deal continuously. This point is relevant for it illustrates how God can be truthful to His end of a covenant while we can turn from such. God needn't 'abandon' a people (though He has and does sometimes to satisfy His justice) even if such a people do not satisfy the covenant.

This being said, in Christ God Himself as man fulfilled humanity's 'end of the deal' to the covenant by perfecting mankind in perfect penance. The true and most central covenant of God was one of a perfect relationship with God. The true and most central 'Israel' was always meant to be whoever is justified in the work and deeds of Christ. All other covenants to a specific people in certain covenants were temporary by nature, insofar as such means they were instilled in order to be fulfilled and completed in Christ, who offers salvation to all who believe in Him. The true covenant of God is founded in Christ, and the 'Israel' is all those who are founded in Christ. Christianity was born out of Jewish culture and Jewish understanding; it is not as though the covenant of Christ 'replaced' the old covenants of the Jewish faith. It is rather that Christ 'fulfilled the law' and founded all preparation covenants within His own perfection. Claiming that the Church is the 'New Israel' is not necessarily meant to mean the Church 'replaces the Old Israel' in a 'substitute' way. It is more so meant to mean that the Church is the eternal 'Israel' and that the 'Israel' denoted by its other distinctive covenants was always periphery to the Church, just as all good deeds and justifications earned by all souls prior to Christ were founded and dependent through timeless time upon Christ's sacrifice. In other words, the Church as the New Israel is substitute of the 'Old Israel' only in a way that is understood in a linear sequence, or through the lens of time. Christ's sacrifice did not nullify any promise in a meaningful way to any 'Israel'.

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