Q: I just shake my head in sadness and puzzlement over how antisemitic tropes continue to appear. Reason, history, and everything about the Gospel message counters prejudice, but still this dangerous foolishness persists.
One place where our Church could make an impact is in liturgy. Why, after the long and so often sinful and painful history of how some Christians have treated Jewish people, are we still reading texts in our common prayer that on the face of it are negative toward Judaism.
In the early 2000s I served at a parish where a family with a Catholic mother and two daughters would come to Mass every Sunday. Sometimes the Jewish dad would also come. I will never forget the one Sunday when the deacon read out loud a gospel with comment about “the Jews.” The father recoiled; it was painful to watch. It made me realize that however much most people have an understanding of what is actually meant, and how most people are fully aware that Jesus, Mary, the apostles were all Jews, we still said those words out loud.
At Easter time we say in the sacred assembly that the doors were “locked for fear of the Jews.” Would it not really be more clearly Christian Gospel if we read “locked for fear” —period? This Palm Sunday we will read in St. Matthew’s Passion 27:25, “And the whole people said in reply. ‘His blood be upon us and upon our children.’” This statement has been distorted to such evil, tragic effect! How can believers say these words aloud on that holy day?
A: You’re entering the difficult world of biblical translations. In general, the Church’s thinking is to let people encounter the Word of God the way it was written. In the US we read the NABRE translation for the liturgy.
You might find it helpful to read George Smiga’s book The Gospel of John Set Free: Preaching Without Anti-Judaism.