St. Paul’s concern for the Jewish people ran very deep. He was one of them, and even fought against Christianity for some time. But once he came to know Christ, he longed for a unification of God’s people, Jew and Gentile.
There was not only animosity between Christians and Jews in St. Paul’s time. Many Christians hated St. Paul and his followers because they were not following the Jewish Law, which St. Paul allowed for those non-Jews who had converted. In some ways, many Jews and Christians saw St. Paul as a traitor.
While he could have simply ignored it, cast it aside, St. Paul was too deeply pained by this separation to do so. He truly longed for the people of his birth to be one with each other, and one with all Christians. The pain of separation he felt was something that defined him and his ministry, as it drove him to do more, to reach more people, to keep more people in God’s fold.
We sometimes feel the same pains of separation from people whom we love. In much the same way as St. Paul does, we understand them, we have been where they are, and we wish we could do more to bring them home. Just as St. Paul, we must also recognize this in the light of Faith, and know that we are not God.
While we feel we are in the best position to know these situations, we must let go and allow God to be in charge. If we want to have the right heart in these matters, it must reflect that of St. Paul’s heart for his Jewish people. We must desire their redemption through Jesus Christ even more than our own. For our prayers are efficacious for their salvation, but only if we truly put brother or niece or grandson or neighbor before ourselves.