Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Verbum Domini 2

After the introduction, the first big section of Verbum Domini is called "God Who Speaks." Pope Benedict insists pretty strongly that those foundations he's already sketched out have very important concomitants.

...we would not yet sufficiently grasp the message of the Prologue of Saint John if we stopped at the fact that God enters into loving communion with us. In reality, the Word of God, through whom “all things were made”(Jn 1:3) and who “became flesh” (Jn 1:14), is the same Word who is “in the beginning” (Jn 1:1). If we realize that this is an allusion to the beginning of the book of Genesis (cf. Gen 1:1), we find ourselves faced with a beginning which is absolute and which speaks to us of the inner life of God. The Johannine Prologue makes us realize that the Logos is truly eternal, and from eternity is himself God. (VD, 6)

The absoluteness of the beginning of all that is made, and of the utter lack of beginning of the one who makes all things, are the great truths that define our horizon as creatures. "Jesus is God" is the great truth that defines our spiritual nature. Together, this truth grounds us in a reality of tangible love and purpose:

Created in the image and likeness of the God who is love, we can thus understand ourselves only in accepting the Word and in docility to the work of the Holy Spirit. In the light of the revelation made by God’s Word, the enigma of the human condition is definitively clarified. (6)

This kind of grounding cuts through all the esoteric angst of modernity, and gives us the means to unite our ordinary human suffering to Christ's. This kind of humility frees us to love:

For us, this proclamation is a word of freedom. Scripture tells us that everything that exists does not exist by chance but is willed by God and part of his plan, at whose center is the invitation to partake, in Christ, in the divine life. (8)

All the layers of Christ's own shape and nature, from His own "real, true, and substantial presence" in the Blessed Sacrament, to the other sacraments, the Church, Scripture and Tradition, our experience and interior illumination, and all the way down to the coherent reasonableness of other creatures -- all these layers make up this invitation "to partake... in the divine life." You might notice both that this is the "concentric model" of participation from Lumen Gentium, which we discussed recently; and also that this is the reverse of St. Hilarius's "ascent" from the basic rationality of creatures to the Creator. Neither of these similarities is accidental, as the quotes in #8 from Psalms, St. Bonaventure, and Dei Verbum make plain.

Given all this, the first two sentences in #9 are a whopper:

Reality, then is born of the word, as creatura Verbi, and everything is called to serve the word. Creation is the setting in which the entire history of the love between God and his creation develops; hence human salvation is the reason underlying everything. (9)

Every creature - angels, men, animals, trees, rocks and dirt - every creature is a creature "of the Word." The whole of creation, all of time and space, is therefore "the setting... of the love between God and his creation...". But in all that immense and wondrous creation, only we humans can respond freely to this gift of love. "Hence human salvation is the reason underlying everything." The whole of salvation exists, not just for us to use, but for us to use as means of responding to divine love. Everything about us and our culture and society is therefore, at root, profoundly Biblical (= Christological). And of course, if we say that, we can't avoid saying further that:

Jesus Christ then gives mankind the new law, the law of the Gospel, which takes up and eminently fulfils the natural law, setting us free from the law of sin... (9)

1 comment:

dbrockhaus said...

"set free from the law of sin"
I can feel Christ's love
I can understand that we are the center of creation
I also believe with all my heart the God and Jesus loves us more than we can possibly love back.

BUT to feel a complete liberation from the grip that " the law of sin" has on me I fear will take many more hours of prayer to enjoy this Gift that sits right in front of me but I cannot absorb it.