The last lecture before our annual conference was held by prof. Buckenmaier. As he was the director of the Founding Chair for the Theology of the People of God at the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome and specialized in the Jewish-Christian relations we could not find a better person to introduce the topic of the chosen people on our online meeting and be the main lecturer during our annual conference, which this year will focus on the Jewish and Christian approaches to the people of God.
Professor has started the lecture with a poem of Wisława Szymborska – “A contribution to statistics” to show that the people of God are not flawless, this is not what distinguishes them from others. What or rather who makes them special is their God, their King – Sunday, the 20th of November was the feast day of Christ the King. The King needs his land and his people, this is what is unique for the People of God – their God, who gathers His people.
Our guest referred to the question “Why does God gather His people?” and found the answer in the results of the Second Vatican Council which states that God does not save people as individuals, but as a people, as a group, because it pleases Him. In the next part professor spoke about the history of Abraham and Sarah in the context of the process of gathering the people, which surprisingly starts with separation. God calls Abraham to leave his country and everything he knows – his religion, customs, legacy of his ancestors, to begin a new history.
The history of Israel leads them through Egypt, where they live and become dependent from the Egyptian society and their Pharaoh, considered as a god, which does not allow them to worship the only God, that’s why they leave Egypt and start their 40-years journey through the dessert. According to professor Buckenmaier the way between the Nile and the country of Canaan is 600 km, so 40 years is much longer than people need to make this distance. 40-years symbolises it takes more than one generation to change old way of thinking and living.
In the next part of the presentation our lecturer continued the history of the Chosen People describing the kingdom of Israel, in which most of the kings fail and the Israelis end up without a king or a land. What distinguishes them is the God’s covenant and the communities gathered around synagogues. This is the moment of the history when Jesus Christ is born, bringing a new idea of the People of God. What binds them are not boarders of a land or a nominated ruler, but a common history, the Holy Scriptures and a common lifestyle.
Jesus enters life of Israel and lives their life – with all the customs and traditions. He chooses the twelve referring to the twelve tribes. This is how the People of God is being renewed and Christianity started and lasts until now, growing and developing with the time.
The conclusion of the lecture is that Christianity is not only a private issue of a believer, it is not only about an individual relationship between a person and God, but people as creation need to build a community where it is the Holy Spirit who builds the relationship and whom God wants to be His special people. Quoting professor Buckenmaier – “Being a people is part of the DNA, of the genetic information of being a Christian.”