S Paul loved his fellow Jews, his 'kinsmen' and believed "the gifts and call of God are irrevocable". He believed that at the End, those among them who had rejected Christ would be brought in to the chosen people. He believed that they were like olive branches which had been cut off so that the Gentiles, wild olive branches, could be grafted in. But, when the fulness of the Gentiles had entered in, Jealousy would strike the unbelieving Jews, and they too would enter in; the severed branches would be grafted back.
In all this, we have to be careful to make clear that we are - or rather, S Paul is - talking about those Jews who have rejected their Messiah. Not all Jews. Just as so often in the OLd Testament, there is a faithful remnant, mentioned by S Paul (indeed, it included him, the other Apostles, and the Jerusalem Church): those Jews who have shown faith and obedience. So, at this stage, the Church, God's Chosen People, the True Israel, consists of a combination of the faithful, remnant, Jews, and of Gentile converts.
At the End, the complete parallelism between the Jews and the Gentiles will be manifest. All have disobeyed, so that all may receive mercy. There is no suggestion in Romans that the unbelieving Jews will 'enter in' in any other way than the Gentiles and the 'faithful remnant' Jews have entered in: by faith and obedience in Jesus Christ. S Paul's whole logic is subverted if we assume that, all along, he is keeping hidden up his sleeve the somewhat relevant fact that the Jews do not, after all, need through Faith the saving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ at all. If that had been true, why did S Paul bother trying to convert them? Why did he become all things to all men, now behaving like a Jew and now living the Gentile life, if 'saving' some Jews matters not at all because they will in any case enter in on the grounds of what they already had before the Incarnation, Crucifixion, and Resurrection? Why, throughout Acts, do we find him enduring every hardship, every tribulation, in his attempt to convert Jews ... as well as Gentiles?
'Ed' Sanders, who initiated the 'new look' in Pauline studies back in the eighties, was a liberal who thought that the whole Pauline construct of Judaism ultimately entering in by faith in Jesus Christ was insupportable in a modern context. But he was compelled to admit that this is what S Paul did mean.
The teaching of S Paul is not, as the media cheerfully and repeatedly inform us, something peculiar to unreconstructed, 'extreme' Catholics. The doctrinal standard of the Church of England set by Parliamentary statute is still the Book of Common Prayer. (Although alternatives are now legally available for use, and [like the Novus Ordo in the Catholic Church] are used in the overwhelming majority of congregations, they do not enjoy the same entrenched status as the Prayer Book.) The Prince of Wales, incidentally, is Patron of a Society which campaigns for its continued use in church. And the Prayer Book, on Good Friday, asks God to "Have mercy upon all Jews ... and [to] take from them all ignorance, hardness of heart, and contempt of [his] Word: and so [to] fetch them home ... to [his] flock, that they may be saved among the remnant of the true Israelites, and be made one fold under one shepherd, Jesus Christ ... ". I wonder why nobody bothers to make a fuss about this? Why don't Vincent Nichols and his associates demand that Parliament change this 'offensive' text? Why don't they get excited about the Byzantine texts for Good Friday? They seem, strangely, to have chip on their shoulders about either the Extraordinary Form; or Pope Benedict XVI; or both.
To be continued.