In this series we will publish extracts from a new book by Johannes Fichtenbauer, an Archdeacon and part of the Charismatic Renewal of the Catholic Church.
Why Care About Israel?
It is impossible to understand the Bible without understanding the role of Israel as a People and a Nation. We try to offer a deeper understanding of how the Church should function according to God’s plan; and how it will always remain in some way dysfunctional as long as one of the two essential components of the Church is missing.
The Jews–the world’s destiny
Marthe Robin (1902-1981), a famous French mystic, spent much of her life paralyzed, trapped in bed. In the 1920s, she had a vision of a young man whom she later identified as Adolf Hitler. In the vision, this young German stood in front of Satan wondering what he would have to do to gain importance, influence and even dominion over the earth. The devil replied to him, “If you hand over to me all the Jews on the earth, I will give you dominion over the whole world.”
All spiritual developments of global perspective are related to Israel. The God whom we serve will always be the “God of Israel.” The future of the Church and how it operates will be determined by its relationship with Israel. Israel is the “apple of God’s eye.”
As Gentile Christians, we need a “second conversion” to the God of Israel and to Israel as His people. To relate to God in a healthy way, we need to understand this mystery and to accept Israel’s role in God’s plan. Jesus is not only Lord of our individual lives, he is also the King of Israel. When we neglect the Jewish roots of our Christian faith, Church life becomes in some way artificial.
An example of such a weakening of Christianity is the situation of Christian denominations in the Middle East. All these churches share the same problem. They usually deny their relationship with the Jews, even as they sing Jewish Psalms and read the Jewish Gospels. Because of a stronger identification with Arab national interests, they will not accept the fact that Israel is the “apple of God’s eye.”
My Personal Conversion to Israel
My first encounter with God was at the age of seven. At the age of 12, I lost my childlike faith due to a very severe crisis with my father. In the emotional vacuum that ensued, I attached myself to my maternal grandfather. This would’t have been a problem except for the fact that my grandfather was a fervent Nazi, a true disciple of Hitler, even many years after the War. I came to believe that as Germans, we needed to eliminate the Jews. It was a terrible and sinful jealousy, which became a dangerous demonic power within me.
By the grace of God, I had a new experience with Jesus at the age of 17, and found my way back to the Christian faith. My wife and I, together with others, started an ecumenical Christian community within the Catholic Charismatic Renewal Movement.
The year 1995 marked the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II. Charismatic leaders in Austria organized a repentance march in commemoration of the Nazi sins committed against the Jews and the inability of Christians of that time to stand up against it. The route of the march started at the Hungarian border, going from there to Austria’s most horrible concentration camp, Mauthausen. This ‘March of Death’ was forced on approximately 250,000 Jews and occurred during the last days of the War. Thus, to demonstrate repentance, the Christian leadership decided that, in an act of identification, we would have to take the same route that the Jews had taken 50 years before. I, being the president of this group, would obviously have to participate.
Arriving at the concentration camp, I knew it was time to change. God’s power was invading this reserved area of my life and, when I finally gave in, I cried for hours until all the demonic trash was out of me. It was a cry of deep cleansing and purification. Suddenly, my world changed. even though I had been a believer for more than 20 years, from that moment on I began to see Jesus in a different light. Now he was Jesus the Jew! I also looked at the Apostles and recognized: “that’s Peter, the Jew; John, the Jew; Mary, the Jewess.” I came to see all the People of God in a Jewish light. I made the following prayer to God: “As I was a curse to the Jewish people, from now on I want to be a blessing to them.”
Extract prepared by Paddy Monaghan, founder of Christian Friends of Israel, Ireland.