Saturday, August 8, 2015

"But before all this occurs..."

"Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues; and there will be dreadful portents and great signs from heaven. “But before all this occurs, they will arrest you and persecute you; they will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name. This will give you an opportunity to testify. So make up your minds not to prepare your defense in advance; for I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, by relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. You will be hated by all because of my name. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your souls." (Luke 21:10-19)

I really think we need to look at our world more through the eyes of the proto-martyr Stephen, that enthusiastic young deacon, who in life and in death emulated so perfectly his crucified Lord. What makes such a figure or orientation in life absolutely decisive? Does it really matter? Yes, it does! We cannot fudge; we must choose. You and I in our everyday life must choose to live as St. Stephen, in the midst of contrast, to live as St. John in his letter invited:

"Do not love the world or the things in the world. The love of the Father is not in those who love the world; for all that is in the world— the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, the pride in riches— comes not from the Father but from the world. And the world and its desire are passing away, but those who do the will of God live forever." (1 Jn 2:15-17)

One of the odd things about FACEBOOK is that, unless you put your filters up as high as my one brother-in-law, you see things like a motivational video by Arnold Schwarzenegger posted by a young friend (no fear! I started to watch it, but dropped it after less than 48 seconds). Maybe it is my age, but terms like "success" or even "accomplishment" have become deceptive at best and, at times well, delusional. To get excited about how the great Dietrich von Hildebrand explains what I am saying, well, you have to be his wife Alice:

"Even this phase of our active contact with a good reveals a characteristic difference from the contemplative attitude. For the good is still embedded there, in the thematic context of realization through my action; whereas, in contemplation, the thematic quality of the object’s inner goodness unfolds in unalloyed purity. So long as the realization of a good through my action is still part of my theme, the prevalence of the good as such cannot fully express itself in all dimensions attached to that good. Nor do I, in that case, experience the good by my striving. In contemplation, I abandon myself to an object as a majestic entity which reposes in itself and does not require me in order to exist." (von Hildebrand, Dietrich (2011-02-04). Transformation In Christ (Kindle Locations 1846-1851). Ignatius Press. Kindle Edition.)

My point being that as brainy as it sounds coming from von Hildebrand (pace Alice's enthusiasm) that is how we are to be, like St. Stephen, who did not only gaze on the Face of Christ when the rocks of Saul and company were raining down upon him; he sought the Face of his Lord constantly. He was not so much striving for a goal as looking beyond and discovering fullness as the three chosen disciples had faced it in a powerful moment on Mt. Tabor... transfigured, seen and embraced.

I hope many young people at various summer camps these days, beyond sunburn and bug bites, might experience the "veil" lifted and come away not so much pumped for action as seeing and no longer anxious about finding words to counter this world or the right path to confront it: "This will give you an opportunity to testify. So make up your minds not to prepare your defense in advance; for I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict."


No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.