When at Mass on Sunday, I suddenly thought of the Jewish roots of our Catholic faith. Of course, that would make sense given the Apostles were Jewish, but it isn’t something I always consider. This time, though, I was thinking back to college, when I learned a little Biblical Hebrew and was in Hillel. I’m far from an expert, but even that little exposure taught me a lot.
Perhaps the first similarity I think of is the similarity in the layout of the synagogue and Catholic parish. The focal point of the one synagogue I’ve been in was the Ark. From what I understand, that is the case for most (all?) synagogues. Likewise, the Tabernacle should be the focal point of a Catholic Church; our parish recently moved it behind the altar, where it should be, instead of being in a side chapel. A Jewish Ark contains the word of God – the Torah. A Catholic Tabernacle contains the Word made flesh – Jesus. Also, I’m told the Ark is usually on the Eastern wall, and a Catholic Tabernacle is also often on the Eastern wall (the direction we face is always liturgical East, but is also cardinal East when possible).
I was also thinking of the most important feasts in the two faiths. For Jews, that is Passover (Pesach), while for us it is Easter (Pascha). We celebrate Jesus’ fulfillment of the Passover and celebrate Him as the Paschal Lamb.
There are other similarities, too. The more I learn, the more amazing it is.