Saturday, January 3, 2015

Paradoxes and ecstasy in the gospel of Luke

A paradoxical situation is a situation that seems logical or contradictory. There is a particular passage in the gospel of Luke (chapter 5) in which something paradoxical happens. It is the passage where a paralysed man have been brought to Jesus so that he may heal him. This ensues:


          Jesus saw the faith of the crowd

          Jesus says to the man: “Friend, your sins are forgiven you.” 

          The educated people of the time, the scribes and Pharisees,
          start to question what Jesus is doing:
              Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
              “Who is this who is speaking blasphemies?
 
          Jesus notices their questions and addresses them in a practical way:
               Why do you raise such questions in your hearts?
               Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Stand up and walk’?

          Jesus explains what he wants to show:
               in order that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins
 
           so he says to the paralysed man: 
                “I say to you, stand up and take your bed and go to your home.” 
           and the man stands up, in front of the people, takes his bed, and goes home.
           He goes home glorifying God.

           Amazement seized all of them, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying,
                 “We have seen strange things today.”


Now, the last sentence is a very interesting sentence since to my knowledge it is the only sentence in the new testament that (to my knowledge) contains the world paradox. In Greek:







καὶ ἔκστασις ἔλαβεν ἅπαντας, καὶ ἐδόξαζον τὸν θεόν, καὶ ἐπλήσθησαν φόβου λέγοντες ὅτι εἴδομεν παράδοξα σήμερον. (Lk 5:26)











These are several interesting things in this sentence. These are the reactions of people to the action of Jesus:

a)  ἔκστασις ἔλαβεν : They were taken by ecstasy, that is translated by amazement seized all. It is related to the trance or great amazement that happened when Jesus raised the young dead girl (Mc 5:26), or that that the women fell when they found the empty tomb. 
b)  ἐδόξαζον τὸν θεόν : They glorify God. What Jesus did was reckoned as the action of God.
c)  ἐπλήσθησαν φόβου : They were filled with fear. This is the trembling that accompanies being in the presence of God. 

So finally they say:

εἴδομεν παράδοξα σήμερον : "We have seen a paradox today". It seems to me that it is not only something strange that they have seen but something astonishingly out of what they had expected, a paradoxical situation. And what was the paradox? I would say that it is not that someone was healed, but that the sins of a man have been forgiven by another man. The healing there was to prove the point of the forgiveness of sins. People went home with a paradox to mull over, something that apparently was logically contradictory had happened, which made them go into trance, worship God, and to stand before him in fear and trembling. 

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Sunday, December 14, 2014

side notes: the incarnation and the cross

In the medieval times there was a dispute between the Franciscans and the Dominicans. Would God have become man if man had not fell from God?

I admire the Franciscan way of thinking about the incarnation. From the beginning God planned to communicate his divine life to humanity, to enter into fellowship with us, and with all his creatures. Thus, the World of God would have become man even without the original sin. In a way, let's say, incarnation is the whole point of creation.

The Franciscan way is very appealing because it shows that God wants to be close to his creation.
And what a better way to bring humanity into divine life than God assuming human nature?

This is the first assumption, and it seems true to me. The second assumption, however, is that the original sin could have not happened. I have my doubts about that.

This is Metropolitan Anthony of Sourorzh quoting Archiprest Avvakum when he talks about the harmony of the Trinity:
God says to his Son, 'My Son, let us create Man!. And the Son replies, 'Yes, Father!' Then, revealing the future mystery, the Father says, 'Yes, but Man will sin and fall away from his calling, and his glory, and You will have to redeem him on the Cross.' And the Son says, 'So be it'.                                                                 (-- Encounter p70--)

So maybe this is true. Being human, entails the possibility of sin. Thus, from the beginning it was foreseen by the Father that the man will fall. In a way, it might have been too much to expect that the full human race, being made of imperfect rational beings, depending on the senses, would not ever have turned away from God.

At the end, the discussion between Franciscans and Dominicans may have been about an hypothetical that could not have been realised.

Could we conclude then the following? In the creation both the incarnation and the cross are included. All because God wants to be all in us.






Friday, December 12, 2014

Hourus Ruins Christmas




For a more serious approach to this tale of Hours is Christ see Jim Akin here

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

side notes: walking on the street

I came across a homeless women walking with a sleeping bag, unfolded, holding it with one dirty hand and, in the other, a can of beer.

She tries to get the attention of people by telling them how being ignored annoys her. Indeed, almost everybody is trying hard not to take notice.

I say: Hello. And she says: You are not like the other ones. You are nice. Do  you have some coins? She will play the same strategy with every one who sees her.

Later on, I see her again.  I know you, she tells me, while everybody else ignores her. You are the man with the hat. I say yes and I hold her hand for a second. 

I have seen her dirty hand but held it. I could have been days since she had any sort of human touch. Then I leave, and I wish I didn't feel like I needed to clean my hand immediately.

Poor woman, says someone in passing. And I feel, suddenly, all the strangeness of this sentence. I can't possess it. It asks for consent, but, even as I try, my whole self screams out against it. I can't own it and it blows up my mind. It is weird but it is related to the fact that I like her. I like her and I like the homeless I find.

René Girard may be right and this sentence means "I am lucky that I am not in her place". It is a way to gain our identity by placing ourselves over against someone else, trying to avoid the position of shame. But this is the position that Jesus have come to inhabit, the place from which he comes to us with his good news.

Of course I want her to be better off. But even so, I like her right now. In her see a shared humanity.   My desire of being regarded with love. The fragility of the human being. My fragility. The beauty of the creation. Our utter dependence on God.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

side notes: Bonaventure imagination

Bonaventure:
"Since imagination aids understanding, I have arranged in the form of an imaginary tree the few things I have collected among many [about the life, passion and glorification of Jesus]...
.... Picture in your mind, a three whose roots are watered by an ever-flowing fountain that becomes a great and living river with four channels to water the garden of the entire Church. From the trunk of this tree, imagine that there are growing twelve branches that are adorned with leaves, flowers and fruit. Imagine that the leaves are a most effective medicine to prevent and cure every kind of sickness, because the word of the cross is the power of salvation to everyone who believe. Let the flowers be beautiful with the radiance of every color and perfumed with the sweetness of every fragrance, awakening and attracting the anxious hearts of men of desire. Imagine that the tree has twelve fruits... 
About those fruits, which are twelve points of meditation on the live of Jesus, Bonaventure wrote to us with poetic language and spiritual insight.

Prologue: The Tree of Live, from The Classics of Western Spirituality, Paulist Press, 1978 (reprinted) p120 (emphasis from translator removed).