Posts tagged ‘history’

October 6, 2017

Jesus’ own mind was the defining locus of humanity’s capacity to hear and obey the historical summons of God

In other words, the Old Testament and the redemptive work of Christ are not related simply by way of objective semantic reference, but also through the living subjective experience of the Redeemer—Jesus’ own understanding of Holy Scripture. The conjunction of the Sacred Text and the redemptive event was originally discerned in the active, self-reflective understanding (phronesis) of Jesus of Nazareth, who heard in the words of the Hebrew Bible the Father’s personal summons to obedience. Jesus’ own mind was the defining locus of humanity’s capacity to hear and obey the historical summons of God.

…Divine revelation—God’s Incarnate Son included—is available to us only through the specific men and women in whose lives the revelation took place. This fact is most obvious in the Sacred Writings. Our access to the events of Sinai, for instance, comes to us through Moses and the myriad authors, editors, and scribes—Jewish and Christian—who transmitted the experience and content of what took place in the Exodus and the Sinai encounter. Likewise, our historical access to Jesus, the Son of God, comes through Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—and, prior to them, through Peter and Paul and the congregations to which they and their companions ministered. In short, none of this revelation is available to us except through that corporate, historical body: Israel/ the Church.

…For this reason I have always wondered about the adequacy of the expression solus Christus (“Christ alone”). Christ is, in fact, never alone. God’s Son did not simply show up here one day. He came to us through a believing Mother (whose consent in faith was absolutely essential to the event of the Incarnation), and He gathered around Him disciples and apostles, whom He commissioned to evangelize the nations. In the Bible we hardly ever find Jesus alone. He stands always with the saints. We know our Lord—and, in the strict sequence of history, He is certainly our Lord before He is my Lord—through the experiences and writings of the saints.

…Thus, the experience of the saints is essential to the matter and form of the revelation. The Church—the body of the believers, the saints—pertains to the very substance of the Gospel. Those who mediate the Good News are an integral component of the Good News. This is the reason the Creed includes “the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church” within its articles of belief. It is an extraordinary thing to reflect that God reveals Himself to us through the responsive experience of others who preceded us. Their Spirit-given response to God’s revelation became a component of the revelation. Consequently, it is crucial not to mute the historical quality—the sequential and transmitting process—of the revelation. When we speak of the historical, factual nature of revelation and redemption, we mean something very clear and definite: Certain historical events actually constitute the substance of revelation and redemption. Redemption and revelation are identical to those events.

…With respect to the second meaning of “time” (chronos), the aforesaid events took place sequentially, in the formal process of a Tradition (paradosis). They were transmitted—and in the Spirit-given memory of the Church, the very historical identity of the Church, continue to be transmitted—in a specific historical, accumulative sequence; revelation and redemption are chronometric. All of sacred theology, including the theology of salvation, comes through salvation history. It is essential to the Christian faith to insist that at absolutely no point do revelation and redemption lose their historical quality.

From Patrick Henry Reardon’s book Reclaiming the Atonement: An Orthodox Theology of Redemption (Volume 1 of 3: The Incarnate Word).

Advertisements
October 14, 2013

first thing Jesus did when the Resurrection life came surging into his body

What, however, was the first thing Jesus did when the Resurrection life came surging into his body? How did he mark the moment in which the history of the human race stopped, suddenly, and went in a different direction? The simplest and plainest thing imaginable: he reached up, pulled the kerchief from his face, folded it, and set it aside, as though it had been a napkin used at breakfast. Those wounded hands, from which every grace would flow into the church until the end of the world, were first employed in a simple household task: folding a kerchief. When Jesus folded that kerchief—his first action on rising from the dead—was the deed intentional? Perhaps so. He may have done it very deliberately, for the purpose of leaving a tenacious clue for those who might inquire what happened in the tomb. On the other hand, maybe not. The folding of the kerchief may have been completely unconscious. I do not find this hard to believe. The universal Christ, the eternal Word in whom all things subsist, was still the same Jesus to whom an act of elementary neatness came naturally.

…The risen Lord was the same particular person his friends had always known. He had just returned from the realm of hell, where he trampled down death by death. He was on the point of going forth as a giant to run his course. He was about to begin appearing to his disciples, providing them with many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God. Nonetheless, he was still the same person, the same man, whose instinctive habits remained identical. He paused a moment to do what a deep, subconscious impulse told him should be done, what his mother had always taught him to do. He politely folded the kerchief and set it aside, and only then did the Lion of Judah stride forth to bend the direction of history and transform the lives of his fellow human beings.

From The Jesus We Missed: The Surprising Truth About the Humanity of Christ by Patrick Henry Reardon.

October 9, 2013

engaged with existence in its fullness

If we reflect that prayer is the highest human activity—the defining purpose of human existence and the goal of human destiny—we should say that Jesus’ prayer reveals more about him as a human being than anything else he did.

…In prayer a human being is engaged with existence in its fullness. First, when a person prays, he represents the whole created order, of which he is the conscious, self-reflective part. It is in the prayer of human beings that creation becomes conscious of its relationship to God. Man is the thinking part of the cosmos. In the entire material world, the only being that even thinks to pray is man. Human thought is the only place where the cosmos is self-reflective. Second, when someone prays, he represents history, which has bequeathed to him the very language he uses to speak and to think. To pray is to take an heir’s possession—by language—of all that has transpired during man’s existence in this world. We are no more able to separate ourselves from the time of human history than from the space of the created order.

From The Jesus We Missed: The Surprising Truth About the Humanity of Christ by Patrick Henry Reardon.

September 23, 2013

subtlety and obedience

The Jesus We Missed: The Surprising Truth About the Humanity of Christ by Patrick Henry Reardon (excerpts from chapter 5):

By the time the four gospels were composed, it is safe to say that probably nobody was certain of the actual sequence of all the events in Jesus’ life. It was not thought to be important. Other considerations, consequently, determined the order in which these stories were handed down in the church’s catechesis (based on the apostles’ preaching) and later recorded (in the four gospels).

…When the Spirit descended on Jesus at his baptism, something changed. It was an event, with a before and after. Of course, Jesus already was conscious of himself as God’s Son (cf. Luke 2:49), but this new experience at his baptism was decisive; it created, in his life, a then and now. He grew, he increased, through this experience; and, when he went through it, his family and friends recognized that something truly unique had happened to him. Indeed, they were disturbed by his new behavior.

…No one else in the world could read the prophecy as Jesus did, claiming complete and internal ownership of it. Luke implies that his hearers in the synagogue sensed the difference, inasmuch as “the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on him.”

…Like the preceding sign, this one involves no physical contact by Jesus. But we do detect another common trait appearing in both signs; namely, obedience to a command: “Fill the water jars with water” (John 2:7) and “Go your way” (4:50). Disobedience to these commands, we presume, would mean no miracle! Exactly the same traits—subtlety and obedience to command—characterize the third sign described by John, the healing of the paralytic at the pool of Bethesda.

August 31, 2013

hope and history rhyme

From the chorus at the end of “The Cure at Troy,” in Seamus Heaney’s translation of “The Philoctetes” by Sophocles:

Human beings suffer,
They torture one another,
They get hurt and get hard.
No poem or play or song
Can fully right a wrong
Inflicted and endured.

The innocent in gaols
Beat on their bars together.
A hunger-striker’s father
Stands in the graveyard dumb.
The police widow in veils
Faints at the funeral home.

History says, don’t hope
On this side of the grave.
But then, once in a lifetime
The longed-for tidal wave
Of justice can rise up,
And hope and history rhyme.

So hope for a great sea-change
On the far side of revenge.
Believe that further shore
Is reachable from here.
Believe in miracle
And cures and healing wells.

Call miracle self-healing:
The utter, self-revealing
Double-take of feeling.
If there’s fire on the mountain
Or lightning and storm
And a god speaks from the sky

That means someone is hearing
The outcry and the birth-cry
Of new life at its term.

October 20, 2012

to spring up again in times and places unlooked-for

Enjoying the grand sweep of Tolkien’s vision as I read aloud to my kids:

“And doubtless the good stone-work is the older and was wrought in the first building,” said Gimli. “It is ever so with the things that Men begin: there is a frost in Spring, or a blight in Summer, and they fail of their promise.”
“Yet seldom do they fail of their seed,” said Legolas. “and that will lie in the dust and rot to spring up again in times and places unlooked-for. The deeds of Men will outlast us, Gimli.”
“And yet come to naught in the end but might-have-beens, I guess,” said the Dwarf.
“To that the Elves know not the answer,” said Legolas.

[Legolas speaking, later in the chapter:] “In that hour I looked on Aragorn and thought how great and terrible a Lord he might have become in the strength of his will, had he taken the Ring to himself. Not for naught does Mordor fear him. But nobler is his spirit than the understanding of Sauron; for is he not of the children of Lúthien? Never shall that line fail, thought the years may lengthen beyond count.”

[Gandalf speaking, later in the chapter:] “We must walk open-eyed into that trap, with courage, but small hope for ourselves. For, my lords, it may well prove that we ourselves shall perish utterly in a black battle far from the living lands; so that even if Barad-dûr be thrown down, we shall not live to see a new age. But this, I deem, is our duty. And better so than to perish nonetheless–as we surely shall, if we sit here–and know as we die that no new age shall be.”

A few unconnected quotes from chapter 9 of book V in The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien.

Tags: , ,
September 26, 2011

apparently contradictory and without point

From the Bonds of Imperfection by Oliver O’Donovan (a potent exposition of John’s Apocalypse):

As a scroll, it represents history; as a sealed scroll, its contents are unintelligible. So the prophet presents his problem: how can the created order which declares the beauty and splendor of its creator be the subject of a world history, the events of which are apparently contradictory and without point? Only if history can be shown to have a purpose can the prophet’s tears be wiped away and the praise of the creation be resumed.

%d bloggers like this: