The Big Picture

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Box labeled "Master for Duplication". What was the intended purpose?


Welcome, it's good to see you, good to see a lot of familiar faces.
So this retreat, I'm not going to go too long tonight, you'll be grateful to know.
I'll give you a kind of run-through of what we'll try to do in our four sessions.
The title of the retreat, Into the New Creation and the Continuing Event of Christ, I hope
that sounds jazzy enough for you, it's intended to be energetic.
And it's also coming from a concern with wisdom theology, Christian wisdom theology or sapiential
theology, or in a way you could call it the big picture, because what I'm talking about
tonight at least is the big picture.
The big picture, which for too long has been talking loud enough, let me know, okay, throw a stone, okay.
So, I'll try to be a little louder, for too long, as I said, our spirituality has been
separated from history for one thing, separated from what's going on, and history now I think
for us moves back into the zone of something that we can look at positively and accept.
I'll try to make that clearer as we go on, but for too long I think the Catholic Church
in particular, because of its kind of role, almost its vocation as being the backbone of
Christianity, with all of the stable elements and with the structure and with every bit
of tradition that needs to be conserved, has tended to look with a kind of jaundiced eye
at what's going on, and what's going on in history, especially what's going on in the
modern western world. But I think with Vatican II that time is over, because in the second
Vatican Council, the Church, and the official Church by golly, with the guidance of the
Holy Spirit, begins to look at the West itself in a positive way. It's a whole new tone,
a whole new voice, which is very welcoming, which invites all of us to come out of whatever
of that defensive and kind of, what would you call it, suspicious stance that we've
had for so long, invites us to come out of it and to exercise ourselves in hope, which
after all is a primary Christian virtue. Christians ought to be hopeful, they ought to be optimistic,
even when it's raining rocks, they should have a certain good cheer, because after all the
good news has come, Jesus has come, and that means things have turned around. The basic
event that history was waiting for has happened, and therefore it's a new ballgame. Whether
we feel that newness right now or not, it's a new ballgame, and we're invited to be players,
players on the winning side, too. Because the victory in a way has been won, and in a way
is never won until the last hour, you might say. So anyhow, this idea of a new creation,
you can't be more comprehensive than that, you can't be more inclusive than talking about a
new creation, can you? Hardly. Unless you want a new God, and that's not a good idea.
And the continuing event of Christ, for a long while I've been excited about that idea of Christ
as an event. Now that's not the only way to look at Jesus, obviously. He's a person,
He's God in the flesh, He's all of that, He's the center of history, as I say. But as the center of
history, it's important to be able to think of Him as something that happened, and something
that continues to happen, okay? A happening, an event that continues, like a big bang that never
stops shaking the world, that never stops changing the world, that never stops its creative emanation,
you might say. So a continuing event of Christ, continuing means also we're invited into it,
we're invited to be participants. So to regain a participatory sense of theology,
and of reality in general, that's a big and important word, participation. Not just
voluntary participation, but that too, and that especially. But also that we're part of it,
we're part of what's going on, we're evolving as the world evolves, we're progressing as
history develops, we're somehow growing as history unfolds, we're part of the whole thing.
And Christianity believes that from the beginning, even though it's had its pessimistic seasons,
as we know very well. So all of that, and what do I mean by wisdom theology? Well, wisdom theology
is one that tries to get the whole thing. In other words, it tries to talk about all of it,
tries to talk about all of reality, God and all of creation. So if you read the letters to the
Ephesians and the Colossians, okay, and other letters of Paul, Romans, Galatians, that's the
sense you get. He's talking about all of it at once, not just the parts, not just the interactions,
but something's happening that pervades everything. That pervades, you might say, even God,
because it's got into God somehow, as God has gotten into it. So that idea of a comprehensiveness
and a participation, the wisdom theology is about that. Wisdom, sapiential, is the same word.
And it's different from a more scientific theology and philosophy, which has been the
scholastic theology, more or less the official theology of the Roman Church,
from the 13th century, from the time of Thomas Aquinas. But with Vatican II also,
there's a turn away from that. Not a rejecting it, not a despising it, not a disproving of it,
or a condemning of it, but rather somehow growing past it and also before it. In other words,
as we move forward, we also recover a lot of things that had been concealed, or lost,
or forgotten. And the wisdom theology is one of them, which I believe begins softly,
step by step, to return in the documents of the Second Vatican Council. You don't see it right
away, you have to look for it, but it's there. It's there and there's a lot more of it that's
potential and not yet expressed, not yet realized. So the title of the retreat then is to start out
on that sapiential foot, but the important thing is the other foot, the foot of newness. In other
words, if we're going to have a wisdom theology, we've got to have a new one. Why is that? Well,
I think we've become convinced of it because maybe we feel a little distant from the old wisdom
theology. Not so much that of the New Testament, not so much that of John and Paul, but maybe of
the Fathers of the Church, and some of their concerns maybe are not any longer our concerns.
But a new sapiential theology, particularly because we've got a new sense of history,
we've got a new sense of time, we've got a new sense of reality itself and the human being in
the middle of it as being something that's not static and made once and for all and finished,
finished product in the window, but rather something that's continually developing,
continually evolving, and of history itself as an actuality and something that moves forward.
A historical optimism, you might say, but also a very, very convinced belief that change is real,
change is real and change is important. That historical sense in the Church, that positive
historical sense, is a relatively new element in the Church in theology and spirituality.
It's extremely important for us, though. That's the spirit of our time.
And we can only accept the idea of change when we see change as positive, okay?
And that's another gift of the Council.
Some Christian thinkers, especially Teilhard de Chardin, but other ones as well,
discovered at a certain point in the 20th century that our vision of faith was much too small for
the actual content of our faith, for the reality that we know, or for the way things that moved,
the way things have grown in these 2,000 years since Jesus walked on the earth.
One thing that's changed is time. I mean, we have an evolutionary science now that's revealed that
time goes back into billions of years, which is staggering, you know? We've got a cosmology that
widens space in the same way and talks about how many millions of light years? I don't know.
It's unimaginable. Unimaginable numbers and a number of zeros that we can't count.
And then something about the human person that's changed. Gradually, gradually, it's as if the
human person is coming around. It's coming around from a sense of maybe adolescent guilt or something
like that, and into a knowledge of its adult potentiality. We heard a lot about human potential,
remember, in the 60s and 70s, half a century ago now. But that human potential is a reality,
and largely an undiscovered country, and a country on which the light of Christianity shines,
a country which is given life, through which flow the streams, you might say,
of grace, and of the grace of the event of Christ.
So, the idea of person turns around so that person is not only capable of sinning,
but person is capable of bringing something new into the world,
capable of bringing newness into the world. Suppose that the human being is the only
thing that lives on this earth that's able to really bring about newness,
and suppose not only that that's a potential somewhere out at the end of our reach,
but is also our vocation. Suppose we're made, suppose we're endowed, suppose we're called
to bring newness into the world. Well, basically that's what Jesus did, wasn't it? Not only to
bring newness in his time, that is the good news in the gospel, and a kind of new, what would you
call it, human self-image. To think of yourself as somehow centered in faith, and hope, and love.
To think of yourself as, what would you call it, metabolizing human relations, human relations
of affection, and of love, and of acceptance, and of mutual support. That's something new.
I think the world itself has been weighed down so long by the pessimism, the heaviness of a life
which seems to end in death. And that word futility, remember, that the creation is subjected
to futility, not by its own will, but by the will of the one who subjected it, so that its liberation
might be good news. Because what God is interested in is good news, what Jesus came for is good news.
And God is interested in a kind of drama, where everything happens by surprise. Everything happens
where it shouldn't happen, where it can't happen, where it's impossible, which gives us a chance
after all. Everything happens where we never expect it to happen, and in a way which is inconceivable.
And therefore, the great surprise. God loves, I think God loves a good joke for one thing, but
especially God loves a good surprise. And his surprises in the end are good, even if at first
they're scary.
How about you mind speaking a little louder, I can't hear you.
I'll try. Now if my lungs come surging out and land on the floor, we'll have to rethink it, but I'll try.
And new aspects of the human person, that's an especially, there's a kind of a new sense of
subjectivity, a new sense of just the depth and breadth, the inner interiority of the human person.
Not only the spiritual interiority, but the depths of the soul, the archetypal depths of the soul,
the depths of feeling, the depths of experience that are there, and that are ours somehow,
that are ours. Our life is much bigger than we thought it was. We're always discovering that.
The four sessions, I'll zip through this pretty fast, what the continuity of the logic of the
four sessions is. The first one is obvious, it's just a kind of overview. The second one,
the radical newness of Jesus in the event of Christ. Okay, we're getting back into the title
there. Radical newness of Jesus, that may sound, I don't know, a little, well, I hope it does sound
a little jazzy, because Jesus is about as surprising as you can get, okay? And what I'd
like to emphasize is the way he brings newness, the way he brings a change. And the change at
first, I say, may be scary, the change may involve conflict, but in the end, the change is nothing but
good, nothing but a good surprise. Surprise that's always trying to work its way through our
bloodstream, through our being. And I'm going to do that in an odd way that just occurred to me a
week or so ago, but to move from John the Baptist to Jesus, okay? John the Baptist is, you can say,
a foil, or he's the, what would you say, plain background, maybe the canvas background or burlap
background or something like that to John. Nothing extraordinary about John, except John.
He doesn't do any wonders, he doesn't do any miracles, he doesn't heal anybody, as far as we
know. It's just him, he's full of God, and he's full of God in the most simple way, speaking the
word of God. Speaking a very unwelcome word, often, as to Herod, which gets him killed.
Speaking an unwelcome word in a bold and brave way, without getting any happy feedback,
or largely without, without getting any rewards, without getting any, whatever you want to call it,
he doesn't get any of it. It's just giving and speaking, speaking that word of God,
welcome or unwelcome. And then, what was it in John? Remember when Jesus says, what did you go
out to see? What did you go out in the desert to see? Was it a reed shaken by the wind, or was it
somebody in fine clothes? What was it? They don't know what it was, it just drew them. It was a kind
of, what do you call it, irresistible magnetism that he had, and just the presence of God in him,
just the glow of God in that person. And I think Jesus was like that too, beyond everything that
we can describe, there was just a radiance coming from him, just a radiation. Now, people could
shut it out, people could miss it, people could have very good reasons for closing it off, okay,
for not perceiving it. You know, you have eyes and you don't see, you have ears and you don't hear,
but it was there. Just a magnetism, a spiritual magnetism, which we have to be pretty stubborn
to close out permanently. But that's what was in John too. He was the best thing around, he was
the holiest thing in Israel, he was the holiest thing any of those people have ever seen.
Out there in the desert, that show out there all by itself, and they went out in droves
to see him and to be baptized by him, whatever that meant for them. Whatever it meant, it was somehow
getting some of what he had. Whatever it meant, it was somehow being dipped into what was in him,
what was in John, that unmistakable presence and power of God, which yet remained very simple.
Okay, but Jesus comes along, and Jesus does not walk in that way of, you might say, the expected
prophetic figure. No, he does all kinds of wild things. He does all kinds of weird things, shocking
things, you know. But John is there in some way to ground him in, what would you call it, an inevitable
convincingness, okay. In other words, John, in some way, in his testimony to Jesus, in stressing
the continuity of Jesus with himself, with his own unmistakable holiness of the traditional kind,
enables Jesus to be as wild as he was. Okay, so that's the first step from John to Jesus.
Then there's another step from Jesus to Paul, and if you like, you can think of three ages.
I'll bring that up again. It's a wild kind of theology that started a long, long while ago.
But right in the New Testament, you've got three ages. You've got the age of the Father,
you've got the age of the Son, you've got the age of the Holy Spirit. And John the Baptist,
I think, represents the age of the Father, the age of a transcendent God, whose word
is carried by human beings, whose word is shining out of John and speaking out of John.
And then the age of the Son, which is Jesus. Here he is, announcing himself,
announcing himself almost explicitly as the Messiah, and calling himself the Son of Man,
while it gradually creeps into people's consciousness that he's also the Son of God,
the one Son of God, out of whom we all become children of God.
And then finally, the age of the Spirit, after Jesus is no longer visible,
no longer visibly present. Well, who is it that somehow represents this age of the Spirit? Who
would it be better than Paul? Who could better than Paul express the change, the violent change,
you might say, the breaking open of the shell of Judaism and of Israel, so that salvation could
leak out, could pour out now in a flood to the Gentiles? So, John, Jesus, and Paul. Of course,
there's another John there too, isn't there? Sort of in another line. That's the John of the East,
the beloved disciple. And that's something else again. But Paul leads the change,
follows the Spirit out in the direction of expansion. Expansion to the Gentiles, expansion
from, what would you say, subjectivity, subjection to the law, the captivity of the law, the slavery
of the law, if you like, into a freedom in which the human person simply becomes liberated into
itself, into itself at the center and gradually, gradually, gradually into every member.
So, that's number two. I hope I haven't given too much of it away already.
That's tomorrow morning. And tomorrow afternoon, the West and its spiritual dynamism. Now,
here I get into what may seem a surprising advertising campaign for the culture of the
West, okay, and the history of the West, which I think we're kind of ashamed of nowadays, okay?
Maybe with good reason. The West has a huge shadow. The West has done awful things to the
environment, awful things to other peoples, okay? You might say the peoples out at the
fringes, the undeveloped peoples, if you like. That's a nasty word too, though.
But nevertheless, somehow, God's work and God's power has moved into the world through the West.
And it's brought us where we are, not only in technology, not only in science,
but in what else? In the realization of universal human rights and democracy, human freedom,
the freedom of the human person. That's a gift of Christ. That's a gift of Christianity,
which has worked its way through and out into visibility in the West,
and from there goes into the rest of the human race. So, I'd like to try to communicate some
of the taste, some of the feeling, some of the excitement of the Western thing, which you find
in a number of the scientists, you find it in a lot of the poets, you find it in the creative
spirits of the West, okay? Now, what is it in the end? It's somehow a grasp of newness,
that this baby of newness, whatever it is, is given to us, and we're to bring it forth,
and we all have a part in that. Now, newness, and the most basic level is what? Is love.
It's goodness, it's kindness, it's those fruits of the Holy Spirit that Paul talks about.
But there are other levels of newness too, and we in the West know them very well,
because it's almost as if the surface of our civilization is new every day. At least it is
in the magazines, in the journals, in the advertisements, and maybe in the news.
But to get kind of the taste and the positivity of that newness, we tend to think of newness
as superficiality, maybe as advertising, maybe as deception, maybe as meretricious,
but newness is a Christian reality. Newness is what we become, and what we are to beget
as Christians. And which the Church itself, the official Church itself, is
waking up to, waking up to particularly and announcing in the Second Vatican Council,
where it begins to talk a new language. It begins to speak not the language of power,
nor of threatened power, not the language of office, of institution, but a kind of cordial
human language. The language of one human being to another. The language of friends,
somehow. A language which, as it were, communicates an irresistible friendliness.
It's a whole different ballgame, a whole different language. That's part of the newness too.
And then finally, I've been talking a lot about Vatican II already, but finally we get there in
the fourth stroke. Vatican II and the emerging wisdom of the West. I won't say any more about
that now. But to sum up, first of all the central event of Christ, and that as we see it in the
New Testament itself. And then secondly, it's unfolding in our own Western history. And then
thirdly, it's manifestation in our own time, which I would call an ethical manifestation,
or something that happens only in terms of centuries, not in terms of years.
The Vatican Council was the biggest event, the biggest theological, spiritual, Christian event,
certainly in 500 years, and maybe more, maybe much more.
So this issue of personal participation and somehow bringing or finding or discovering
our spirituality, that once again, one with what's going on around us, because what's going on around
us has taken on a new meaning, as we see it centered in the event of Christ, this continuing
event of Christ, which I've been talking about, the continuation of which largely depends on us.
The thing about the new creation is that it doesn't just happen, bang,
it isn't just that God says, let there be light, and there is light.
God says, okay, let there be light, now go and do it. Now you be the light, now you turn on the
light, now you find the light, it's up to you now. I'm in you, I'm working with you, my breath is in you,
my power is in you, my intelligence is in you, will you go do it? Go do it and find a new way to do it,
in my spirit. So the new creation, the second creation, is a creation that works through
human beings, and first of all through Jesus, who was a human being, as well as being divine,
and sort of gave us the keys to doing it, although confusing keys they may sometimes seem to be.
Something about Jesus' double revolution, some of you have probably heard this before, but
I like to think of Jesus as breaking out of the Jewish law in two directions, okay,
breaking out of the, you might say, the container of the Judaic law, okay, the law that Paul talks
about so much, and he talks about it often in negative terms, okay, but the law of the Torah,
which is also something very positive, which is a treasure of which we have tried to keep the core
in Christianity itself, the law as container. And in Judaism, the Judaism of Jesus' time certainly,
it really was thought as a container which separated Jews from Gentiles, in other words,
separated God's chosen people from everybody else, everybody else on earth. So it contained,
what would you call it, it restricted the freedom of those inside, and it prevented the access of
those outside, unless they went through the various hoops of becoming Orthodox Jews.
So Jesus breaks through that in two directions. First of all, he breaks through the wall between
the human person and God, okay. If you look at John the Baptist, for instance, I believe that
you still sense that there's a wall there, that God is transcendent, but the imminence of God,
the indwelling of God, is not yet something you can perceive in John. Yes, you can, the Holy
Spirit is in him, okay, but not the whole works, not yet, not as a communicable reality as it is
in Jesus. So the breaking down of the inner wall between God and the human person, so that you can
actually talk about divine union, divine unity, so that Jesus in his human flesh can actually say,
I am, I am, which is the unpronounceable name of God in Old Testament times, and somehow I think
that I am comes down to us too. That never becomes quite explicit in the New Testament, but it's
implicit. When Jesus says, the Father and I are one, I and the Father are one, I think he wants us
to be able to say that too, doesn't he? That I and the Father are one. And if we can say that, then we can say
also, I am. And simply with that absoluteness with which God speaks it, and with which God is
named and identified. Okay, so there's the inner breakthrough, and a real, it's a violent breakthrough
in a sense, okay, because something has to be smashed which has been ingrained in people for
centuries, okay, something has to be broken open. Look at that, look at that word that we hear
in our Sunday Gospel, remember, when Jesus heals the deafening heart, he says, be open.
That's the time, how do you say it? That's the time. Yeah, my Aramaic's a little rusty.
Be open. So there's an opening to God interiorly, and there's an opening that's exterior, and what is it?
It's the opening ultimately to all human reality, okay, it's liberation. Liberation of those inside,
liberation of those outside, and those outside have the access to God, and unity with the
chosen people. And the chosen people now somehow are liberated to breathe the deep breath of the
whole of humanity, of the one humanity. They're free to realize the unity, the oneness of humanity,
and as it were, to move spiritually, mentally, even physically in that new freedom.
So there are two dimensions, I think, in our Christian vision, two principles you might say.
One is unity, and the other one is change. This is straying a little bit from our inner and outer
breakthrough, but it's very much related. There's a principle of unity and a principle of change,
and I would identify the principle of unity largely with the East, not entirely,
but you can say that the core principle of the Christian East, for instance, is unity,
and I believe that's the core principle also of the non-Christian East.
The principle of the West, you can say, is change, historical change. And if the beloved disciple
personifies the wisdom of the East, remain here until I return, remember? Jesus says about the
disciple, he's to remain here until I return. It's movement, historical change, that identifies the
West. Jesus said to Peter, you know, you follow me, forget about him, you follow me, if he's to
remain here. But I don't see Peter as the perfect personification of the West. It's as if the West
puts him to Peter and to Paul. And the more Western of the two is Paul, who represents the
change, the change from Judaism to the Gentiles, the change from one chosen people of God to all
humanity, the change from law to spirit, the change from law to freedom, the change from conformity
to spontaneity. One after another, you can keep tripping off those synonyms. But Paul identifies
with that change. You know, look at the life of Paul, okay, who's a super-Pharisee, Jew of Jews,
Pharisee of Pharisees, Orthodox, most Orthodox, and he boasts about it, he brags about it.
And then he says, all of that has become garbage to me, the surpassing knowledge of Jesus Christ.
And his life turns around 180 degrees, oppositely, exactly from this direction to this direction,
when he discovers Christ, when Christ revealed Himself to him. So he, in some way, personifies
that whole change we're talking about in the most dramatic way. And then look at his travels,
he always seems to be, we've been having this meeting with this person, all on one boat after
another, and running aground on one island and then another, and it seems to go on forever and
ever. And finally he winds up in Rome. And that's, in a sense, where his journey ends, in another
sense, where the journey begins. The journey of the Spirit begins out from there, but continues,
continues, continues to the ends of the earth. And Vatican II represents, I think, especially
that outward journey, that change, that universalization, you can call it,
that goes on and on and on through the centuries. And for which Paul represents one,
one dramatic turning point, opening, and the Second Vatican Council represents another one.
Karl Rahner saw the history of the Church, at least on one day, he'd probably see it nine other
ways in nine other days, but on this day he woke up and saw the history of the Church divided
into three ages, which makes a lot of sense. And he was trying to somehow theologically place the
Second Vatican Council. He said the first era, the first period of the history of the Church
is Jewish Christianity, and it lasts up until the Council of Jerusalem. So we're talking
about the Council of Jerusalem, we're talking about the movement of Paul as well. The second
age of Christianity, and he's thinking particularly of the Roman Church, is the age of Christianity
within a single cultural complex, which is the European cultural complex. He says that goes
from about 60 AD to about 1962 AD, and that's a rather long period. The third period begins with
the Second Vatican Council, and that he calls the period of the World Church, when every culture
becomes able to express itself in its own language and gradually in its own cultural forms
within the unity of the Church itself. And once again he's thinking of the Catholic Church,
the Roman Catholic Church. And the great sign of that is the disappearance of Latin as
a single liturgical language for Roman Catholicism. So now the different national cultures,
racial cultures, are able to bring their own cultures into the play, into the act,
and create a real Pentecost of cultural expressions of Christianity and the one grace of Christ.
Remember the day of Pentecost when the Apostles come tumbling out of the upper room,
speaking what sounds like these different tongues, and they are different tongues.
This confusing pandemonium of different languages, didn't that symbolize that moment when the
single grace of Christ becomes expressible, becomes communicable in all of these different
ways, to all these different cultures? It's an amazing thing, if you think about it, that
Christianity has no official language, but really it translates itself into all languages.
We don't read the Gospels in Greek normally in the United States. We don't read the Old Testament
in Hebrew. But the Gospel has universalized, universalized the knowledge of God and
universalized itself into all these different languages, which means somehow that the precise
translation is not the ultimate criterion. There's something beyond that, which is the Holy
Spirit and the Word of God that's somehow getting it right, even when it's not exact in the translation,
dealing with human imperfection, human fallibility, human approximations,
as it gets out the essential word, the liberation that's in Christ.
So that's that outward movement. I'm keeping you longer than I promised here.
So in John's Gospel we find that Eastern unity, I think, and unity often which is the unity of
beginning, even in Christianity, even in John's Gospel. Remember the beginning of the prologue
of his Gospel, in the beginning was the Word, in the beginning was the Word. Now, the Word is the
principle of unity of everything, okay? It's divine, it's God, and it's the principle of
unity of everything that comes from God as it brings itself into the world anew.
The light of God, the light which is divine, the Word which is God's Word and gathers everything
into itself, okay? So that's the East, all right. And the West you find in Paul's letters.
Consider the letter to the Galatians in particular, okay? I think all of them in one way or
another, in one place or another. But the letter to the Galatians where he sings the song of Christian
freedom, the new song as it were. You've been brought from slavery into freedom, you're going
to return into slavery, you're going to take on all those precepts, take on all those complexities
when the simple life of God has come into you and expanded your heart and
illumined your mind. You're going to go back there into that narrow place
when you've been brought out into the freedom of the Spirit of God.
Remember where it says, Galatians, you're going to return to the law after you've tasted the Spirit.
I think that's enough from this. One important part of this revolution, I'll talk about a
revolution in our conception of space and our awareness of time, the revolution of the human
person. When a human person somehow turns around from being guilty to being able, from being able
only to sin, only to offend, and never able to creep out from under that dark cloud of guilt
or of accusation. Not everybody felt that, but a lot of Christians did, I think.
And it was semi-official often, okay? Out into a sunshine in which the human person somehow can
begin to grow with confidence in the sureness of that light that comes from the sun, which is God,
and can somehow know directly that light of God, that warmth of God, that life that's streaming
from God at every moment into us, and can grow in that without the shyness, without the guilt,
without the uncertainty. Assured in the gift of the Spirit that we've been given, assured in
the Gospel, in the words of Christ, and in the mystery of Christ, the event of Christ as Paul
preaches it. So, any questions? A scripture scholar comes every year and he says at the
end of each talk, he says, any questions, comments, or short speeches? Yes.
So, it's metanoia again? Yes. Okay, can you...
So, each time I renew my baptismal vows, or go into a little bit more in-depth understanding,
and then go out to my daily life, that's where the rubber meets the road for me. Am I more patient?
Am I more kind? Am I more Christ-like? Yes, yes, yes. And what I'm hearing you say is I get to
participate consciously, metanoia, in that it isn't just one time thing, okay, like in John
Baptist. Yes, yes. It's an event that is ongoing, and I'm part of it. That's right, you're part of
it, you're contributing to it consciously and actively, okay? And sometimes we also do it
semi-consciously, by knowing we're doing the right thing, but not putting it in that
context, okay, of new creation, or that fancy language. But as long as we're trying to do the
gospel, okay, and as we're working at it, somehow we're bringing the new into existence. We're
furthering the new creation. We're helping it to grow. Hearing you say it is worth helping me.
Thank you. Well, Christianity is good news, so we've got to find it as good news somehow.
This is kind of wild, what you're describing, if it comes to all of us, like this, or if it is in all of us. Yes, it is.
Okay. It is wild. Hearing you say that, could you maybe talk a little bit more about that,
and how we move with discernment, with that kind of wildness, with that joy, and
wanting to, I don't know... We've got lots of helps, I think, maybe more than we want sometimes,
in, what would you say, restraining, or putting a brake on the enthusiasm that one can feel about
that, okay, and the wildness. The Church has maybe often been over-helpful in that regard,
okay, and telling us all the things we can't do or shouldn't do, okay, or over-discerning in a sense,
and so as to kind of quip the liberty of the thing, and the joy, the spontaneity, the effervescence
of it, okay, and after all, the other thing is that not all of life is that way, okay, we don't go singing
down the road every day of our life, that's for sure, okay, nor any day of all of those days, all day,
okay, we don't, we just don't, so life straightens us out as well. We learn a kind of prudence of
experience, which persuades us not to get too high for too long. Let ourselves go sometimes, okay, but
the fact is that the grace has to be plowed into the ground, just like Jesus, he says, remember,
when he's going to hit, what was it, Main Street, or Broadway, or whatever, they say the
Greeks have come to see it, it's a big moment, he says, well, unless the seed falls into the ground,
it remains alone. It's only when it falls into the ground that it germinates, it bears fruit,
and so it is the grace that we're given, okay, we're not given to it, it's not given to us
like an all-day sucker, okay, that we can keep tasting and enjoying all day long,
but sometime during the day it's going to disappear, it's going to disappear into the
ground of darkness, of effort, of pure struggle, okay, that's part of it, not all of it.
So, it's like that treasure that the guy found, remember, he found a treasure,
it was, I guess it was buried in the ground, and he dug it up, and he, what did he do, he went
off and bought the field, and then he came back, I think he buried it again, okay, the treasure
gets buried in the ground, and during our whole life the treasure is buried in the ground, and we
can dig up a coin here and there, okay, and enjoy the shine of it, but it goes back into the ground,
and in the end we go back into the ground, okay, so to balance the joy, the exhilaration of the
good news of the New Testament is the rest of life, you could say, almost, okay, but the story
of life with its, not only its ascending curve, but its descending curve, not only its morning
and its exhilaration, but its afternoon, its afternoon and its diminishment, okay, so life
itself somehow brings the balance, okay, and oftentimes our problem will be not to restrain
the joy, the effervescence, but to recover it, to recapture it, to feel it once again, to believe it,
well, we can't find it, you know, but it's the truth, and if we keep believing in it, it'll come
back. Something that you said reminded me of that thing that we have to express death and
resurrection again and again and again, okay, and there are all different kinds of ways in which we
go through that, in which we, and one way we express resurrection is simply by
once again discovering the light of the words of the New Testament. If you've read a gospel a
hundred times, a gospel story a hundred times, and this one time when Jesus, let's say, heals that
blind man, all of a sudden it strikes you, all of a sudden there's an energy in that that strikes you,
that's the New Testament happening once again, okay, that energy of the word of God,
that energy of the healing, that energy that's in the words of Jesus, the preaching and teaching
of Jesus, but I found it especially in recent years in his healings. It's like there's a light
that flashes when he heals somebody. He says to that guy with a withered hand, remember, in the
synagogue, he says, stretch out your hand. He stretched out his hand and it was healed.
You can feel it, you know, and every time you do, I think you're experiencing the thing itself,
the event of Christ, the New Testament once again. Good news, yeah, but good news is the
event itself, that event is there in the word of God and it's to be experienced again and again,
and experiencing the movement, like the logical movement from Old Testament to New Testament and
discovering, say, David and Jesus, something like that, that's a little experience of the
event itself, the movement from Old Testament to New Testament. Yeah?
You say the balance in Paul is between Galatians and the first Corinthians?
I mean, the first Corinthians, they got it, they went wild, they went crazy. Yes, yes.
And so it's a matter of... That's right, he has to urge the Galatians to open up,
open up and the Corinthians to cool it at that point. But he points to the resurrection ultimately, doesn't he?
Yes, oh yeah, yeah. That's the way of focusing the wildness, if you will. That's right.
In service to the community. That's right. And he does it in a very, what would you call, sort of
administrative way. He says, okay, well, you have to do these things in a manner that will benefit
everybody, not just you, okay? Not in a way that just makes you feel good because you have these
fancy languages, but somehow to help the community. He says, I'd rather speak,
what do you say, two words of prophecy than a thousand words in some strange tongue,
things like that. But also he points out, remember where he says,
what has he been saying just before he says, for we have this treasure in earthen vessels,
remember? We've been talking about the treasure and he talks about the earthen vessels.
That's the way that life itself is a container and the restrainer for all of this, this effervescence,
okay? So, and part of it is that it just disappears, okay? It goes into the ground.
And part of it is, so we've got to put it to work. It's almost like sexual energy,
which can't be expressed all the time in, what would you call it, in a direct and obvious way,
but it's meant to be sublimated into something else, into another kind of creative activity,
okay, besides the explicit sexual thing. So, I think that's true also of the energy
of Christianity, the energy of the spirit. It has to be put to work. So, there's a time for
the wedding, and the honeymoon, and the celebration, and there's a time to put it to work.
And the time of putting it to work is a long time. But fortunately, the joy reappears.
Fortunately, it erupts out of the ground once again, again, and again, and again,
especially if we ask for it, especially if we trust that it's going to come back.
All right, well, thank you, and see you tomorrow morning.