It’s important for us to always remember where we came from:
If the firstfruits are holy, so is the whole batch of dough; and if the root is holy, so are the branches. -Romans 11:16, NAB
In this verse from Romans 11, Paul is continuing to speak about the relationship between the Gentiles that converted to Christianity and the Jews who did not. Essentially, he is saying that the roots of the Christian faith (the Jews) made it possible for the branches to have that same holiness (the Gentiles). So, he warns:
But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, a wild olive shoot, were grafted in their place and have come to share in the rich root of the olive tree, do not boast against the branches. If you do boast, consider that you do not support the root; the root supports you… They were broken off because of unbelief, but you are there because of faith. So do not become haughty, but stand in awe. For if God did not spare the natural branches, (perhaps) he will not spare you either. -Romans 11:17-21, NAB
What is Paul warning against? He does not want us, as Christians, to look down upon the Jewish people who do not accept Christ. There are Christians and Catholics that look down on our Jewish brothers, but we should give them the respect they deserve for the special place they hold in God’s heart.
The message as a whole is for us to honor and respect those who came before us in faith, and I would say that this same idea applies in other ways. For instance, we should respect our Catholic and Christian leaders of the past. They may have made mistakes along the way, but we still owe them that respect. Even our Catholic friends and neighbors today. As converts and “reawakened” Cradle Catholics, it’s possible that we are very excited about our faith, but that should not lead us to looking down at those who do not have that same excitement.
It’s easy to forget where we came from. Without those who laid the groundwork for us, we would not be standing here as Catholics today, but we sometimes lose sight of that. Our faith will continue to grow, and it may surpass those same people that originally laid the groundwork. We may have a deeper faith and stronger relationship with Christ, but that does not mean that we have earned the right to look down upon them.
Every Catholic, Christian, and Jew may reach a different level of holiness than everyone else, but we are still a part of the same tree of faith. We are connected by the holiness we receive through God, our Creator, and we should use that holiness to unite together as we stand in awe of a wonderful, loving God.