Monday, October 19, 2020

A Light for Revelation to the Gentiles


The context of Simeon's "sign of contradiction" is the Presentation of Jesus, when the "ark of the covenant" (Mary, the Mother of God, the platytera, the one who is more spacious than the Heavens) carries the Shekinah, the glory of God, into the Temple to satisfy the purification laws.  The presence of God had not been in the temple for centuries, having left the Temple (as seen by Ezekiel) after it became unclean.  This was the point of the purity laws--protecting the temple of God from impurity and death so as to not drive away the Glory of God.  The purity of Mary is the vessel by which God comes into the Temple, the Messiah who drives away death and impurity by the power of his very Holiness.  He is the Sign of Contradiction for his Glory "speaks against" the impurity and sin of Israel.

Thus, as the Sign of Contradiction, Jesus brings the Glory of God into my life, exposing the darkness in my own heart.  He "speaks against" this darkness, not so much with words as with His Presence.  This leaves me dazzled with the choice that comes from seeing the Light, from knowing the Glory of God, the choice of opening myself to the life of the Trinity, to the Gift.  I am left with clarity: "a light for revelation to the Gentiles and the glory of your people Israel".  I cannot pretend that I am "on the way", keeping myself together by self-approval and by avoiding conflict and suffering.  The Way is clear--I empty myself to receive the Gift and then empty myself to give the Gift.  This contradicts my life of mediocrity and exposes the pain that I have sought to obscure from myself, the longsuffering of my own emptiness and isolation.  This sign of contradiction is the Light that leaves me with a clear choice of completing the suffering of kenosis, a suffering which I fear and want to avoid and which leads me to hate the one who brings the pain of the Light unless, unless, I choose to embrace Him and His Cross.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

As if saving my soul were nothing more than learning how to live with myself in peace

" The disastrous misunderstanding: When a Christian imagines that “saving his soul” consists simply in getting himself together, avoiding those sins which disrupt his inner unity by shame, and keeping himself in one piece by self-approval. As if saving my soul were nothing more than learning how to live with myself in peace! Why is this disastrous? Because the worst evils may well have no disruptive effect on one’s psyche. One may be able to commit them and live in perfect peace. Society can offer plenty of help, in quieting one’s conscience, in providing full protection against interior disruption! A great deal of psychotherapy consists precisely in this, and nothing more."  Thomas Merton,  Conjectures of A Guilty Bystander.


In our time, faith is under attack not so much by militant atheism as by the belief that it is possible to live out a mediocre and decent life without too much effort or very many tensions”. Rocco Buttiglione, page 242 in “Karol Wojtyla: The Thought of the Man Who Became Pope John Paul II


Two quotes on the same subject--living as a Christian brooks no mediocrity.