Friday, August 03, 2007

familiarity breeds contempt

When reading the Gospel for today, it reminded me of something from the beginning of B16's book where he criticizes modern theologians for pretending to have access to Jesus' "inner life". He argues that the current schools of thought which claim to know the moment Jesus knew who he was or understood his mission (ie. the Baptism in the Jordan, the Transfiguration, or Peter's pronouncement) presume a higher position over the Lord himself. They treat Christ as if he were their patient in therapy, or worse, a character in a novel whose makeup and motives are open to multiple valid interpretations and who developed from one point in his life to the next.
B16 rightly labels these Christological ideas as presumptuous and absurd. We cannot KNOW God's inner life, it can only be REVEALED to us. We are below, He is above.

This quest for scholarly and pastoral ownership of Jesus, is based on fear and insecurity. Fear of the God who is truly hidden in many ways, and insecurity regarding our infinite smallness before his majesty. The people in today's Gospel thought they had that same ownership of Christ. They knew his family and whatever skeletons were in their closet. They saw him grow up and knew whatever worldly skill and charisma he demonstrated. Many of them may not have been impressed - or, more likely, were jealous.

So their hearts were hardened by this closeness and familiarity. These obstacles to faith were based on their place and time. But today, people manufacture this level of familiarity through convoluted exegesis and patronizing theological concepts.


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