I shortly plan to lead to the Holy Land the first Australian Pilgrimage of the Association of Hebrew Catholics. Our Chaplain will be Emeritus Bishop Hilton Deakin of Melbourne, whose father is descended from Alfred Deakin, the second Prime Minister of Australia and father of the Australian Constitution.
On his mother's side the Bishop is Jewish, thus by Halakha rendering him Jewish: an ideal choice for visiting the land of Jesus, Mary and the Apostles, all of whom were Jewish.
Recently I came across part of an article by a Jewish Professor, Ferdynand Zwei, who published the results of a sociological inquiry some years ago into the subject of Jesus in the State of Israel in a book, Israel, the Sword and the Harp: the Mystique of Violence and the Mystique of Redemption.
I was captivated by the following words: "The figure of Jesus, the Jew from Nazareth, looms large on the Israeli horizon, although not much is said about him openly and most Jews cautiously refrain from mentioning his name in public. Still he is very much in the mind of the Israeli Jews, more now than ever, and the awareness of his shadow in Israel is constantly growing.
"In the Galilee, the most beautiful and inspiring part of Israel, he is the dominating figure. Every site of antiquity and every beauty spot in Galilee bears his footprints. He is still walking by the Sea of Galilee (Matthew 4:18), on the Sabbath day he enters the synagogue in Capernaum (Matthew 4:12-17), in Tabgha, close to Capernaum, he performs the miracle of the loaves and the fishes (Luke 9:16-17).
"The mystery of this simple Jew from Nazareth, who managed to conquer almost the whole world and whose spiritual power was stronger than that of the whole of Jewry, is puzzling to the Israeli Jew. Who was he? Where lies the secret and mystery of his power? How did this Jew manage to attract the immense love and admiration of the whole world ...?
"How did he manage to fulfil the task set in the Bible for the Jews, to serve as a light unto the nations, while other Jews failed miserably? Why was it that only he managed to shape and mould the world while the Jews played a losing game, rolling in the dust? Why has the genius of Jesus never been repeated within Jewish gates? And will it be repeated?"
Finally, Zweig believes that the acceptance of Jesus by the Jewish people will make "all the difference in the fight for survival by the Israeli Jews, in their development as a nation and as a spiritual force in the world, as well as the peaceful settlement of their conflict with the Arab nations."
Indeed, what more can one ask?