Saturday, January 9, 2010
In studying theology and in particular Pope Benedict XVI's writings and understanding what it means, there is a significant importance to the historical. I would like to demonstrate a parallel to how we develop both spiritually and as human beings. One of the beliefs that I hold is that to fully understand Catholicism and what it means to live as a Catholic, one must be philosophical. Our Catholic faith is so rich, and has developed since its inception, that to view it without a sense of history or knowledge of how dogma and doctrine came to be, is to view it in a narrowed dimension. I have written previously that, that is precisely what is the problem with Protestantism, it is narrow in scope and thus "crops" Christianity omitting some very important details. The story of salvation (economy of salvation) is an historical story. If we first come to comprehend that there is a God and in fact this God had something to do with our being here, then it is logical to think a He had some kind of plan in mind for us and that from history we should be able to detect or interpret it. Sacred Scripture gives us a pretty good picture of that. There is the Creation, the Fall, God's relationship to His Chosen People and their relationship to Him. This is from an historical and philosophical perspective, the first half of the story, broke up into three parts. If this were a movie or a tv mini-series, we would sense that the ending is missing. We can discern that God just didn't go back to wherever He came from, or got disinterested. In modern day Judaism, there is no temple and in a sense there are many things that appear to be unfinished, like a picture that an artist stop painting. Of course I believe that there is more to the story, and again we can look to Sacred Scripture and the writings of many people. The story appears very plausible to me, as a logical and thoughtful person, God did not leave us hanging there, He sent His Only Son to get things straight once and for all. The secular world seems to believe that this story is a fairy tale or not practical or useful in living in the world today. Jesus did exist, He was written about both from the Evangelists in the Gospels and from historians (Pliny, Josephus) of the time period. Through the Gospels I see Jesus as a consistently intelligent and compassionate, human being. I see Him as mysterious and supernatural doing His best to explain why He was here and what He intended to do. At times this went completely over His disciples' heads (as it still does today), yet he kept them close to His heart and demonstrated His love for them. Jesus also uses history to explain His purpose, quoting from Sacred scripture and announcing His fulfillment of the prophesies. He didn't just drop from the sky and was a puzzle that had to be figured out. This is precisely why many Jews converted and why St. Paul explicitly understood who Jesus was and how He came to believe He was the Messiah ( his conversion not withstanding). Now here is where the parallel comes in: I have begun a new career as a teacher, and in doing so I am now discoursing with young people whose historical perspective is very limited ( I am still in a sense shocked by the fact that some of the students were born in 1996, which was not at all that long ago to me). I have an historical perspective now that exceeds 50 years. I have witnessed the latter half of the twentieth century and entered into a new millennium. I have tried on different philosophical clothing in those years, because understanding what life is about has always been important to me. I did dumb things, read useless books, sought a path that was to lead to wealth and material acquisition. I bought into many different lifestyles and beliefs, but nothing made any sense to me, that is until in very recent time with God's grace I came upon knowing and loving Jesus Christ. God's grace does more than granting you some kind of intellectual insight into the cosmos, God's grace transforms your entire being. That is why I cannot contain it! It is illogical and immoral to not want more and not to share this incredible joy with others. Nothing in life touches me emotionally like the love of God in our friend and kin Jesus Christ! I will find myself crying at Mass or when reading Scripture or when I am elevated by His grace. The search is over, I have found my home. Although it took a good lifetime of doing so and I can empathize with those who aren't there yet, I am on fire to bring God to everyone I encounter, I just cannot contain it!
Posted by Paul Bernacchio at 9:07 AM