Wednesday, 27 November 2013
It has taken quite some time to put, literally, pen to paper once more with these meditations as I became stuck on the whole issue of ‘beginning’!
Ask most people about the ‘big bang theory’ and, unless their only notion of the phrase is the television show of the same name, their statement will be either an affirmative or a probable: ‘that’s how the universe began’.
In fact the truth is the big bang theory, the various theories around evolution, and yes even the creation accounts in Genesis, none are empirical, that is none can be proven with the accuracy of, for example, the law of gravity.
We tend to assume faith means belief in a deity, religion, in the first instance.
In reality we are constantly expressing directly or indirectly numerous acts of faith on a daily basis, what we might call the ‘I believe’ acts/choices of trust and when such ‘faith/trust’ is betrayed our reactions vary from the mild experience of disappointment to extremes of anger, such as having faith/belief other drivers will obey the rules of the road as we do, the extreme of road rage when someone does not.
What creationists have to confront in their adherence to a narrow, literal interpretation of Genesis is the evidence of evolution and what scientists have to confront is their refusal to accept all that exists, ourselves included, is not the result of some cosmic happenstance.
In reality what confronts us is the very intricate, well ordered reality of the universe as existing and in particular the reality of the non-self-creating-existing human person.
I have read a lot about the big bang theory, read Hawking’s “A Brief History of Time” and other of his works. What always amazes is neither in his or other works on the subject I have yet to find a satisfactory explanation of: what banged together or within itself to be the ‘big’ bang.
Thus the persistent question: from when came what went bang?
Conversely, reading creationists, I amazed about the narrow assumption that the various ‘day’ references in Genesis means consecutive 24 hour periods!
The Holy Spirit clearly chose to use human agents to first orally over the centuries and then in written form teach the essence of salvation history reality, which means there are and will likely be until Christ returns again, aspects of Sacred Scripture, Tradition, which we must struggle with, because the ultimate answer to all our questions about beginnings and endings, about why am I/are we, where is all this headed is not some biblical formula or scientific theory.
The definitive answer to all our questions is a person.
A person who yearns to encounter us more than we can ever burn with the desire to meet Him.
Bl. Pope John Paul II once noted that unless we know Christ Jesus we remain incomprehensible to ourselves.
I like to extend that truth: unless we know Christ Jesus the history and purpose of the universe, the history and purpose of human existence will remain incomprehensible.
As mentioned before, rather than begin with Genesis, I find the place to begin, not only for as complete as possible an understanding of my own ‘why’ of existence, from whence and to where am I, but that of all creation, is with what is revealed to us by the Holy Spirit about everything in and through Jesus.
By everything I literally mean everything!
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether throne or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the pre-eminence. For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. [Col. 1: 15-20]
When Pope Francis was elected the television cameras of the world’s media were focused on the small chimney above the Sistine chapel.
When suddenly the white smoke began pouring out there was a type of emotional jolt for the smoke appeared as a potent signal not merely that a choice had been made but that we were all at ‘the beginning’, in a sense ‘in’ the beginning of a new era.
Other than the Persons of the Holy Trinity no-one else was present at the ultimate moment of beginning.
No witnesses, reporters, cameras.
Even, in the immediate moments, [were they actually moments as we understand them or eons as we understand them?], until the creation of the Angels, there were no beings to be aware of, let alone witness, what was unfolding and again, whether we accept a narrow definition of the Genesis notion of day or the theories of evolution, much already existed, had existed, ceased to exist, was yet to exist, by the time human beings were, choose one, either created or evolved and began to walk upon and act upon the earth.
So at the outset of all that can be contained in the terms history of the cosmos, history of the world, human history, be we people of faith or not, of science or not, we are confronted with mystery, seeking to know what fundamentally is unknowable.
However, thanks to St. John writing down for us truth at the urging of the Holy Spirit, if we have open hearts and minds, we can listen, behold, marvel, trust, and importantly, give thanks.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. [Jn. 1: 1-2]
Behold the reality of the uniqueness of the Divine Persons, the communion/unity of love which is the Holy Trinity.
Behold the mystery of Three Persons yet one God.
Within all the various languages of the human family throughout history parents invariably strive to instill the spoken word into their children through the very simple process of speaking word[s] and the child even before fully understanding the meaning of word[s] eventually goes from those sounds commonly referred to as ‘baby-talk’ to formulating actual words, which overtime the child will learn the meaning of.
Here ‘the Word’ is no mere sound, no mere carrier of a meaning, but is indeed a Person, the Logos, Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity, only-begotten Son of the Father who becomes incarnate among us as Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Speech is movement and sound interwoven, it is dynamic, moves the air, within the air.
Words are heard, listened to, responded to, full of meaning, meaning which enlightens and informs, affirms – or the opposites.
We get to choose.
The Father chooses to speak love to us in the Person of the Word, His Son Jesus.
Naturally for the spoken word to be received there must be a receptor.
Sound occurs all over the place and not all sounds are necessarily heard by a human being.
Words can be spoken by a single person in the middle of a vast desert which no other human being save the self, hears.
The richness of the sounds of a symphonic orchestra, the power and beauty of a recited poem, these achieve fullness only when heard, received, by the hearing ability of a human being.
In a sense if the Father wanted His spoken Word, His love to be received then all that exists had to be created so we might be created so that there would be receivers of the Word, the love, the beauty, the life, the hope, yes, the salvation because, to borrow a common expression: we threw His word back in His face, indeed all sin is to through the Father’s Word back in His face.
Jesus is both the love-Word and the forgiving Word.
All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. [Jn.1:3]
St. John does not go through the Genesis process of delineating what was made/created, in what sequence.
Rather he simply states truth.
To a certain extent then, other than perhaps as something interesting to be looked at theologically or scientifically, it really is not all that important to try and ascertain timing or sequences other than the simple fact, before the Word was uttered no-thing existed, indeed not even time itself, outside of the Holy Trinity.
No being either.
Once the Word is spoken everything unfolds, matter comes into being, the universe expands, all that is invisible and visible becomes, most importantly the human person, we human beings receivers of the Word, become, are!
When we gaze upon the marvel of a bright night sky knowing we see only a tiny portion of what lies way beyond the limits of all the light our eyes can perceive; when we marvel at the intricacies of ice crystal in a snowflake; when a new human being is born and eyes open giggles with the sheer excitement of existence, then we are on the threshold of the why of it all!
The reality of existence is that the stars and the snowflakes are there for us, all matter and manner of things and creatures are there for us and we are actually here not primarily for ourselves but for other, for the place where I am most at home is in the place of relationship, not as taker from other but, as God Himself does who gifts Himself to us in the very moment He creates us, fullness comes when I am gift to you.
And who am I?
Who are you?
Who are we human beings?
Well in truth:……..I have nothing of my own. All I have is from God. I am worth the Incarnation; I am worth the life of Christ on this earth. I am worth three hours on the Cross. I worth His death and resurrection…..That is my worth….[ from a lecture by the Servant of God Catherine Doherty]
Sunday, 27 October 2013
IN THE BEGINNING WAS THE WORD….[Jn.1:1]
"At the moment as I begin these meditations on the Holy Gospel according to St. John I am in-doors, in the middle of the afternoon, in my 70th year of life, in my 28th year of priesthood, living in an urban hermitage, in a particular city, writing in English, in a particular year of salvation history, and all this within – well you get the point!"
If any of us was to try and list all the instances, there’s another “in”, wherein we are at a given moment likely we would be in for no little stress for once we would have completed the list upon reflection we would discover just how incomplete it is.
Dictionaries we tell us that the word in refers to inclusion in a place, space, limits, a situation, doing something in a particular manner or colour, speaking in a particular language and a whole range of other applications.
As human beings we are always, aware or not, mostly not, experiencing the ‘in-ness’ of life.
We are either indoors or out, in a particular place or going out of and into some other, in particular relationship with someone or group, or not for relationships can end, often do, and new ones are formed and we are then ‘in’ relationship again, though, most likely, ‘in’ a different place/space.
We live in time.
We live in a particular place on planet earth which itself is within the cosmos, in a particular galaxy itself within the universe.
We do not self-create!
We are created within the sacred mystery of the matter of our being originating within the bodies of our parents, themselves from within the bodies of theirs and so on all the way back to the first parents, Adam and Eve who themselves are revealed to us in Genesis which begins with the very words St. John uses to open his Prologue: IN THE BEGINNING…[Gn.1:1]
It is within God’s creative-love act, breathing Himself into Adam that actual life, actual reality begins and like the first human beings we too have life breathed into us, we too have immortal souls, we too have been created to be in communion of love with the Most Holy Trinity within whom in reality all human beings live and move and have our being.
Mysteriously while everyone and everything exists within some aspect of time, history, place, experience of reality, only the Holy Trinity does not exist IN any limitation of time, in any particular place.
There is NO ‘in the beginning’ with God and, unlike for us in our temporal existence, there is no IN the end/ending either.
Scripture scholars publish books all the time dissecting from the original Greek, Aramaic, Hebrew, ancient Latin the texts of the canon of Sacred Scripture and many theologians, and mystics, have also composed truly illuminating commentaries.
I am no script scholar, theologian, certainly no mystic – just a baptized, albeit ordained, hermit who writes here personal meditations on the holy Gospel according to St. John.
Why St. John?
Well Bl. Pope John Paul said once that unless we know Jesus Christ we remain incomprehensible to ourselves, so in the first instance I yearn to know the unknowable.
We can never know Jesus the possessive way we can learn and know about most people, most subjects and objects – nonetheless we can, should, strive to know Jesus enough to be in love with He who sees us as His beloved.
St. John, known traditionally as the “beloved disciple”, appeals to me, primarily on this basis of his being in relationship with Jesus.
Finally I have always felt to enter into the depths of the Hebrew Scriptures, what we Christians refer to as the Old Testament, the place to begin is the Holy Gospel according to St. John.
In a word to begin with the Word for ultimately the Father so loves the Son that all exists, we exist, to behold the Son, to behold and be in relationship with Jesus, the way to the Father for, animated by the Holy Spirit only with Jesus, through Jesus can we come to the Father and thus in the life, and please God in life beyond temporal time, history, anxiety, be in communion of love with the Most Holy Trinity.