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“I have a mustard seed, and I’m not afraid to use it”

February 11th, 2013 - 11:44 am

In particular, the first volume of Benedict’s book Jesus of Nazareth drew extensively on the writing of Rabbi Jacob Neusner, who showed that Jesus’ statements in Matthew 12 were a radical Christological declaration. Although Orthodox Jews well may take issue with some of Neusner’s formulations, as Rabbi Meir Soloveichik observed, the Pope’s literary dialogue with the American rabbi evinced his commitment to uncovering the Hebrew sources of Christianity.

On a personal note: As a graduate student poring through Renaissance texts on music and mathematics, I encountered then Cardinal Ratzinger’s writings on music. Subsequently the first fruits of my research were published by the Vatican’s music journal Rivista Internazionale di Musica Sacra, and I sent a copy of the manuscript to the Cardinal, then head of the Sacred Congregation of the Faith in Rome. To my surprise I received a cordial letter from Ratzinger with a couple of helpful suggestions; the great man had not only taken the time to acknowledge an unsolicited paper from a graduate student, but had read it as well. I had the privilege to see his kindness and generosity first hand.

Years later I opened a copy of Der Spiegel at the Narita Airport transit lounge and read a summary of then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger’s just-published book Das Salz von der Erde, published in English as The Salt of the Earth. It contained this stunning assertion:

We might have to part with the notion of a popular Church. It is possible that we are on the verge of a new era in the history of the Church, under circumstances very different from those we have faced in the past, when Christianity will resemble the mustard seed [Matthew 13:31-32], that is, will continue only in the form of small and seemingly insignificant groups, which yet will oppose evil with all their strength and bring Good into this world.

The courage of this statement from a prince of the Church touched me. “I have a mustard seed and I’m not afraid to use it,” I summarized Ratzinger’s attitude towards the attrition of faith in the West just before his election in 2005. The West has lost a great spiritual leader. We will be hard put to find another like him.


Images courtesy shutterstock / Natursports / Christian Jung

Cross-posted at PJ Lifestyle

Related at PJ Media:

Andrew Klavan: Turn Out the Lights of Europe When You Leave, Pope!

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My admiration for Benedict!
He is one of the seldom people who ruled by silence.
Most others they can only shout.
He was very likeable, like a person next to us.
2 years ago
2 years ago Link To Comment
the story continues, but in another venue:

"........I singled out Ratzinger because his willingness to "part from the notion of a popular Church" seemed like the best choice in an epoch when, as he wrote, fewer people want to accept the yoke of Christ. As an anonymous essayist, it was easier for me to comment on Catholic matters in 2005 than it is as a Jewish writer today. If it seems untoward to meddle in the business of another religion, I can only say that the Catholic Church is not simply another religion but also the founding institution of the West, so that all who love the West have an interest in its affairs. .........."
2 years ago
2 years ago Link To Comment
Comment dBase meltdown.

2 years ago
2 years ago Link To Comment
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