Wednesday, July 04, 2007

"Jesus of Nazareth" Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI

Prologue

Moses only saw God in the back, not in the face. Only He who is one with the Father (Jn. 10, 30) sees the Father in the face. Only He who is equally “face” with the Father sees face. Jesus, as the new Moses, is not only the new prophet – “prophet” being a category of the human mind – but the Prophet – the experienced reality from which we would form the notion of “prophet,” and this because He is the “Word” of the Father. “Word” is a relational term because its “meaning” is always “from” and “for.”

The entire task of this book is to lead reason to a higher experience and consciousness of being by leading it into deeper water: Duc in altum (Lk. 5, 4). Once there, reason will be able to re-cognize the Face of him who is not an individual whom we habitually place in mental categories, but a relation who is one with the Father, whom we can know experientially.[1]

We can only know the Father (and therefore, achieve eternal life [Jn. 17, 3]) by seeing the back of the Father, which is to follow Jesus Christ.[2] “We can only encounter God by walking after Jesus; that the only way we can see him is by following Jesus, which means walking behind him and thus going along behind God’s back….(S)eeing is going.” And “going” is going-out-of-self, particularly praying.

The whole book is an exercise in theological (existential) epistemology[3] whereby we do not know by theoretical categories but by experiencing being in relation to the Father as the Incarnate Son is relation to the Father. As a result, the best way to read the book is to start with the last part of the last chapter: “I Am” where the author announces the kind of Being that Jesus of Nazareth is, thus giving us a clue what he is trying to do in the entire first volume of the work. In this last part of the last chapter, he announces that “The issue at stake… is precisely the oneness of Father and Son…. Jesus is wholly ‘relational,’ that his whole being is nothing other than relation to the Father. This relationality is the key to understanding the use Jesus makes of the formulae of the burning bush and Isaiah. The ‘I am’ is situated completely in the relatedness between Father and Son.”[4]


Present State of Affairs

The state of affairs that Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI’s (henceforth, R-B) “Jesus of Nazareth” confronts is “the back” of God without the following. In a word, God is simply absent. There is abstract thought about God, lip service is paid, actions are performed toward Him as if He were a “hobby,” but no one sees the Face: “No one has at any time seen God. The only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has revealed him.” (Jn. 1, 18).

Sacred Scripture, which is a major step in experiencing Jesus Christ, and therefore, the Father, has been purged of any supernatural content by the bifurcation exercised by exegetes during the last 200 years into 1) a text reducible to historical, linguistic and cultural facticity not unlike an experiment in the empirical sciences, and 2) the sujectivized myth of a supposed supernatural content – a kind of divine wishful thinking. This renders access to the Persona of Jesus of Nazareth as the “Christ, Son of the living God” (Mt. 16, 17) impossible. “Intimate friendship with Jesus, on which everything depends, is in danger of clutching at thin air.”[5]

R-B has undertaken the work “Jesus of Nazareth” because he finds this bifurcation of the figure of Jesus into a “Jesus of history” and a “Jesus of faith” unjustified, unreasonable and unscientific. He asserts straightforwardly: “The main implication of this [the explanation of his methodology] for my portrayal of Jesus is that I trust the Gospels.”[6] And the profound reason for his trusting the Gospels is his perception that the Persona of Jesus Christ as “Son of the living God” transcends, not all thought, but all created categories of thought. In a word, R-B has done theology on his knees watching and following the back of the Father in Jesus Christ. He has experienced Christ within himself beyond the categories by the self-transcendence of prayer. He has gone beyond what John Paul II called “the ordinary way of knowing things.”[7] This “ordinary way of knowing things” is the reduction of all sensibly perceptible reality to the Hellenized ontological categories of substance and accident. And it is precisely here that the genius of R-B is deployed. If we go to the last chapter of this first volume of “Jesus of Nazareth,” we find the quite explicit incursus into a metaphysical terminology that presupposes an underlying ontology of person as relation that has been alluded to in the entire opus of Joseph Ratzinger from his first book, begun in 1953 “The Theology of History in St. Bonaventure” through his “habilitation thesis,” (1956) to this moment of “Jesus of Nazareth”(2007).

After forming himself in the thought of Augustine, R-B remarks in the forward to his work on Bonaventure: “Has not the ‘Hellenization’ of Christianity, which attempted to overcome the scandal of the particular by a blending of faith and metaphysics, led to a development in a false direction? Has it not created a static style of thought which cannot do justices to the dynamism of the biblical style?”[8] He is asking if Christian revelation is not being crammed into static mental categories of Greek pagan thought when the latter alone is used to give a rational account of the Person of Christ? In 1956, he was asserting that in Bonaventure, revelation that is identical with the Person of Christ is not to be identified with Scripture. Here we can see his apparent affinity with the “bifurcationist” exegetes who assert that there is more in the text that what is said explicitly in a scientifically ascertained text. But with huge difference. In his account of the thesis, he asserts that in Bonaventure and all the theologians of ht High Middle Ages, “`revelation’ is always a concept denoting an act. The word refers to the act in which God shows himself, not to the objectified result of this act. And because this is so, the receiving subject is always also a part of the concept of ‘revelation.’ Where there is no one to perceive ‘revelation,’ no re-vel-ation has occurred, because no veil has been removed. By definition, revelation requires a someone who apprehends it. These insights, gained through my reading of Bonaventure, were later on very important for me at the time of the concilar discussion on revelation, Scripture, and tradition. Because, if Bonaventure is right, then revelation precedes Scripture and becomes deposited in Scripture but is not simply identical with it. This in turn means that revelation is always something greater than what is merely written down. And this again means that there can be no such thing as pure sola scriptura (‘by Scripture alone’), because an essential element of Scripture is the Church as understanding subject, and with this the fundamental sense of tradition is already given.” [9]He immediately adds that this position was not understood to be “a faithful rendering of Bonaventure’s thought (however, to this day I still affirm the contrary) but a dangerous modernism that had to lead to the subjectivization of the concept of revelation.”

What we can conclude from this is that there is something in the text that cannot be gleaned from the text if it is treated positivistically and reductively. That is, the text is telling me more than what the words and “concepts” they represent say. If we go to the last chapter of “Jesus of Nazareth,” R-B shows that in the very text of the Gospels, especially Luke, the believer discovers the Person of Christ as “Son of the living God” when he enters into the act of prayer (Lk. 9, 18). The revelation of the divine Person who transcends all cosmic created categories is experienced and known by the one who goes out self in prayer. This act of prayer constitutes a second tier of experience and being that is the very self in a state of transcendence – R-B calls this by a philosophical concept: “relation.”[10]

In his 1968 “Introduction to Christianity,” we find a “Magna Charta” on the notion of person in God, and therefore, as His image, in us. There R-B, building on Augustine, says, “the first Person does not beget the Son as if the act of begetting were subsequent to the finished Person; it is the act of begetting, of giving oneself, of streaming forth. It is identical with the act of self-giving. Only as this act is it person, and therefore it is not the giver[11] but the act of giving…” He goes on: “In this idea of relativity in word and love, independent of the concept of substance and not to be classified among the ‘accidents,’ Christian thought discovered the kernel of the concept of person, which describes something other and infinitely more than the mere idea of the ‘individual.’ Let us listen once again to St. Augustine: ‘In God there are no accidents, only substance and relation.’” He then lays down the fundamental challenge which is precisely the goal toward which this book is being guided: “Therein lies concealed a revolution in man’s view of the world: the undivided sway of thinking in terms of substance is ended; relation is discovered as an equally valid primordial mode of reality. It becomes possible to surmount what we call today ‘objectifying thought;’ a new plane of being comes into view. It is probably true to say that the task imposed on philosophy as a result of these facts is far from being complete – so much does modern thought depend on the possibilities thus disclosed, without which it would be inconceivable”[12]

It is not unreasonable that the Judeo-Christian God transcends these categories as Creator. Said differently, one cannot re-cognize in reality what one does not first cognize.[13] As quoted from Goethe on another occasion: “If the eye were not solar, it could not recognize the sun,” R-B makes the point that “Catechesis should also always be a process involving a type of assimilation with God, since in reality we can recognize only that for which a correspondence is found in us… The process of knowledge is a process of assimilation, a vital process. The we, the what and the how of the faith are closely connected.”[14] As we saw above, this is the burden of Ratzinger’s “Habilitation” thesis, and, I would suggest, the key to understanding his solution in “Jesus of Nazareth” to the bifurcation of Jesus of history/Jesus of faith and hence the non-presence of God in the experience of the Apostles from the beginning, and hence the presence of the God-man in the world now.

Said differently, although Scripture as written word is not revelation in itself (only Christ as Person is), nevertheless it was written by men who experienced the Person of Christ in themselves and therefore re-cognized Him and knew Him to be “Christ, the Son of the living God” (Mt. 16, 17). They perceived the historical individual Jesus of Nazareth through sight, touch and hearing, but they also were personally involved (on a second tier of experience) with their subjectivity - their “I” – in the very activity that is cosmically invisible, but which is His very Person as act of being “one” with the Father. Hence, they also knew Him from the very start as “the Christ.” That act of knowing is ontologically grounded on reality (being) neither as substance or accident. Rather it was the experience of an act of the “I” self-transcending that R-B calls “relation” that is both a divine, and therefore, a human way of being. It is not a mental category and therefore defies reduction to the abstraction or categories which we call concepts. However, as experience of the self-transcending “I,” it produces the consciousness[15] that we reflect on and form “concepts” as categories and communicate them as language.

As an overview of the book, I submit that the controlling insight is the notion of person as relation, a relation that is not reducible to either category of substance or accident. Since the dictatorship of relativism, which is uppermost in the mind of R-B, is a product of this kind of reduction or “objectification” he is taking aim at the epistemological schizophrenia of splitting Christ into objectifiable historical figure or subjectivist myth. He wants to show how the texts and actions themselves offer the whole Christ. Jesus of Nazareth is Jesus the Christ. There are two clear contradictory examples of reaction to the Gospel texts that we will examine below: that of Rabbi Jacob Neusner and Rudolph Bultmann.

The work of the book is to show that from the Baptism of Christ to the Transfiguration, the words and the deeds of Jesus of Nazareth are of a Person Who is constitutively relational, one with the Father and therefore very God. Its ambition is to lead reason into a paradigm shift from object to subject, from relativism to the Absolute Who is the God of Jesus Christ by leading the reader to pray with the Jesus of Scripture and experience self-transcendence.

Cardinal Schönborn sees the book as a “`symphonic’ attempt to prove the ‘coherency’ of the figure of Jesus as the One who is in an absolute and immediate relationship with God.”[16] It is not an exercise in syllogistic apologetics although it is not without the rigors of logic. It is simply not reducible to it. It is a cross-weave or crescendo of reasoned consciousness grounded in the real-life text of the history of Jesus of Nazareth but interpreted by another level of consciousness coming from the experience and consciousness accruing to prayer. It is something like an exercise of John Henry Newman’s “illative sense” that constructs from an accumulation of various probabilities, legitimate proof sufficient for certitude.[17]

As mentioned above, the entire theological opus of Ratzinger-Benedict XVI has been exercised on his knees. Recently in Brazil he asked rhetorically, “Who knows God? How can we know him? ... For a Christian, the nucleus of the reply is simple: only God knows God, only his Son who is God from God, true God, knows him. And he ‘who is nearest to the Father’s heart has made him known’ (John 1, 18).”[18]


God


“No one has at any time seen God. The only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has revealed him” (Jn. 1, 18). With the backdrop of philosophic relativism, the question arises, can we believe that? The solution is found on two levels of experience: perception of Scripture through the senses, and experience of self-transcendence in prayer.

Sacred Scripture:

As we have seen R-B roundly affirms “I trust the Gospels.”[19] He trusts them because they have been written by the “People of God” who are “led, and spoken to by God himself, who –through men and their humanity – is at the deepest level the one speaking.” He then says: “The People of God – the Church – is the living subject of Scripture; it is in the Church that words of the Bible are always in the present. [20]This also means, of course, that the People has to receive its very self from God, ultimately from the incarnate Christ; it has to let itself be ordered, guided, and led by him.”[21] He explains: “everything that the Council and modern exegesis tell us about literary genres, about authorial intention, and about the fact that the Gospels were written in the context, and speak within the living milieu, of communities.”[22] This attention to the autonomous (theonomous) value of Scripture as an empirical and historical literary reality, does not permit expunging the ontological reality of the Person of Christ as a mythic or ideological fabrication of later times.

He counters those who do so separate the historical Christ from the later creation of a Christ of Faith by expressing his personal conviction that “the Jesus of the Gospels – is a historically plausible and convincing figure. He goes on: “Unless there had been something extraordinary in what happened, unless the person and the words of Jesus radically surpassed the hopes and expectations of the time, there is no way to explain why he was crucified or why he made such an impact. As early as twenty or so years after Jesus’ death, the great Christ-hymn of the Letter to the Philippians (cf. Phil 2, 6-11) offers us a fully developed Christology stating that Jesus was equal to God, but emptied himself, became man, and humbled himself to die on the Cross, and that to him now belongs the worship of all creation, the adoration that God, through the Prophet Isaiah, said was due to him alone (cf. Is. 45, 23).”[23]

Experiencing the Person of Christ:

There is something deeper going on. Ultimately, R-B trusts the Gospels because he has an experience of the Person of Jesus Christ that he finds in himself. He has experienced in himself the call of the Absolute. He has described it as a “remembering,” that is a consciousness - “an inner sense, a capacity to recall” - the good and the true that enables him to recognize the face of the absolute when he sees it, and says: “That’s it! That is what my nature points to and seeks.”[24]

What my nature points to and seeks is the revelation of the Person of Jesus Christ. Ratzinger says, “The anamnesis instilled in our being needs, one might say, assistance from without so that it can become aware of itself. But this ‘from without’ is not something set in opposition to anamnesis but ordered to it. It has maieutic function, imposes nothing foreign, but brings to fruition what is proper to anamnesis, namely, its interior openness to the truth.” [25] In the light of the pope’s first encyclical, it is the eros of our being as persons made in the image and likeness of God longing for the agape of the Person of Christ Who is its (our) fulfillment.


The Genesis of Benedict’s Theology


Ratzinger’s “Habilitation” Thesis on Revelation and Faith
In the light of the above, we can understand the drama of his “Habilitation” thesis for professor of theology in Germany in 1956. That drama consisted in the rejection of the “doctrinal” part of the thesis on the meaning of revelation in St. Bonaventure (in continuity with St. Augustine) by Michael Schmaus, one of his two readers. Ratzinger recalls: “But he also did not like the result of my analyses. I had ascertained that in Bonaventure (as well as in theologians of the thirteenth century) there was nothing corresponding to our conception of ‘revelation,’ by which we are normally in the habit of referring to all the revealed contents of the faith: it has even become a part of linguistic usage to refer to Sacred Scripture simply as ‘revelation.’ Such an identification would have been unthinkable in the language of the High Middle Ages. Here, ‘revelation’ is always a concept denoting an act. The word refers to the act in which God shows himself, not to the objectified result of this act. And because this is so, the receiving subject is always also a part of the concept of ‘revelation.’ Where there is no one to perceive ‘revelation,’ no re-vel-ation has occurred, because no veil has been removed. By definition, revelation requires a someone who apprehends it. These insights, gained through my reading of Bonaventure, were later on very important for me at the time of the conciliar discussion on revelation, Scripture, and tradition. Because, if Bonaventure is right, then revelation precedes Scripture and becomes deposited in Scripture but is not simply identical with it. This in turn means that revelation is always something greater than what is merely written down. And this again means that there can be no such thing as pure sola scriptura (‘by Scripture alone’), because an essential element of Scripture is the Church as understanding subject, and with this the fundamental sense of tradition is already given.” Ratzinger does on to note that “Michael Schmaus, who had perhaps also heard annoying rumors from some in Freising concerning the modernity of my theology, saw in these theses not at all a faithful rendering of Bonaventure’s thought (however, to this day I still affirm the contrary) but a dangerous modernism that had to lead to the subjectivization of the concept of revelation.”[26]

If we put together these two insights of Ratzinger, we find that revelation is not an imposition on the human person, but an answer to what he was always looking for, but could not possibly find for himself. There is a platonic Augustinianism here where revelation is a remembering of who I am as created in the image and likeness of Jesus Christ as Logos of the Father. In a word, the revelation of Christ demands an activation on the part of the believer (not without being moved by the love that is grace) to become self-gift to God the Father as Christ is self gift to God the Father

This is the burden of the chapter on Peter’s Confession, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Mt. 16, 16). Ratzinger says: “Peter’s confession is connected with a prayer event. Luke begins his account of the story with a deliberate paradox: ‘As he was praying alone, the disciples were with him’ (Lk. 9, 18). The disciples are drawn into is solitude, his communion with the Father that is reserved to him alone. They are privileged to see him as the one who – as we reflected at the beginning of this book – speaks face-to-face with the Father, person to person. They are privileged to see him in his utterly unique filial being – at the point from which al his words, his deeds, and his powers issue. They are privileged to see what the ‘people’ do not see, and this seeing gives rise to a recognition that goes beyond the ‘opinion’ of the people. This seeing is the wellspring of their faith, their confession; it provides the foundation for the Church.”[27] Being drawn in, they become relational as He is relational, and they become sons as He is Son. Later, Ratzinger will say: “our will has to become a filial will. When it does, then we can see. But to be a son is to be in relation: it is a relational concept. It involves giving up the autonomy that is closed in upon itself; it includes what Jesus means by saying that we have to become like children.” [28]And paradoxically, it is precisely this subordination of himself as Son to the Father that makes him “truly equal to and truly one with the Father.”[29]


Rabbi Neusner: Confirmation of Benedict’s Insight


As cited above, Cardinal Schönborn commented: “Rabbi Neusner is so important to the book of Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI precisely because, with a clear-cut refusal, he opposes all attempts to separate the historical Jesus from the Jesus of the Church’s dogma.”[30] Let’s consider R-B’s presentation in more detail:

“The central point, it seems to me, is wonderfully revealed I one of the most moving scenes that Neusner presents in his book. In his interior dialogue Neusner has just spent the whole day following Jesus, and now he retires for prayer and Torah study… Neusner then continues his book with the following dialogue:

‘So,’ the master says, ‘is this what the sage, Jesus, had to say?’

‘I: “Not exactly, but close.”

‘He: “What did he leave out?”

‘I: “Nothing.”

‘He: “Then what did he add?”

‘I: “Himself” (pp. 107-108).’”[31]

The importance of Neusner’s “Himself” is the identification of the historical Jesus with the Jesus of faith. In other words, Jesus means that He is the Sabbath, that He is God. The Sabbath is the center of cohesion of the “`eternal Israel’ – this real, living, ever-present family of Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob, Leah, and Rachel (pp. 58, 70). According to Neusner, it is this family of Israel that is threatened by Jesus’ message, and the foundations of Israel’s social order are thrust aside by the primacy of his person.”[32] And yet, in reality, it is not the end of Israel but its completion and fulfilment in the universality of the promise to Abraham, that his fatherhood would extend to all the nations of the earth: “The mission of Jesus consists in bringing together the histories of the nations in the community of the history of Abraham, the history of Israel. His mission is unification, reconciliation… The history of Israel should become the history of all. Abraham’s sonship is to be extended to the ‘many.’ This course of events has two aspects to it: the nations can enter into the community of the promises of Israel in entering into the community of the one God, who now becomes and must become the way of all because there is only one God and because his will is therefore truth for all. Conversely, this means that all nations, without the abolishment of the special mission of Israel, become brothers and receivers of the promises of the Chosen People; they become People of God with Israel through adherence to the will of God and through acceptance of the Davidic kingdom.”[33]
Rudolf Bultmann: Substitutes Myth for Face

By contrast, let’s consider the opposite reaction. R-B offers the example of Rudolph Bultmann’s exegesis of the Gospel of St. John. Bultmann goes so far as to say that the Gospel of John was not only not Christian, but Gnostic in its inspiration and formulation and subsequently taken over by Christianity. Benedict quotes him as saying: “That is not to say that the idea of the incarnation of the redeemer has in some way penetrated Gnosticism from Christianity; it is itself originally Gnostic, and was taken over at a very early stage by Christianity, and made fruitful for Christology,” as well as “Gnosticism is the only possible source of the idea of absolute Logos (RGG, 3d ed., III, p. 846).”[34] The reaction R-B is refreshing and clear: “How does Bultmann know that?” and after more from Bultmann, Ratzinger firmly pronounces: “On this decisive point Bultmann is wrong,”[35] and goes on to develop the thought of Martin Hengel in The Johannine Question (1989).


Re-Arrange the Mental Furniture


The supreme question Ratzinger-Benedict asks - highlighted by Cardinal Schönborn - is: “If the
Gospels present Jesus as he really was, is he a credible figure?”[36] Ratzinger-Benedict now asks the radical question: What did Jesus really bring that makes him credible? “What did Jesus actually bring, if not world peace, universal prosperity, and a better world? What has he brought?”[37] In fact, he has not brought world peace, universal prosperity nor a better world. R-B responds: “The answer is very simple: God. He has brought God. He has brought the God who formerly unveiled his countenance gradually, first to Abraham, then to Moses and the Prophets and then in the Wisdom Literature – the God who revealed his face only in Israel, even though he was also honored among the pagans in various shadowy guises. It is this God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the true God, whom he has brought to the nations of the earth. He has brought God, and now we know his face, now we can call upon him. Now we know the path that we human beings have to take in this world. Jesus has brought God and with God the truth about our origin and destiny: faith, hope and love.”[38]

How did Jesus of Nazareth bring God? Cardinal Schönborn declares: “the entire book of Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI is a single ‘symphonic’ attempt to prove the ‘coherency’ of the figure of Jesus as the One who is in an absolute and immediate relationship with God.

“To support this demonstration, it is necessary to understand and meditate step by step on the book itself. Only the fullness of the individual impressions can shape an overall vision.”[39]

The truth of the matter is that the God of Revelation is beyond all our mental categories. Since He is other than the world, Robert Sokolowski refers to the situation as “The Christian Distinction.” He translates St. Anselm’s dictum that God is greater than human thought can reach in the following terms: The difference between the Being of God and the being of the world is so vast that if God had not created the world, He would not be less; and now that He has created it, He is not more. Therefore, there is no way for the human person to have a direct, experiential knowledge of God through the experience and knowledge of creation. Man can know about God, but he cannot experience and know him directly through the world.

However, since the human person is image and likeness of the divine Persons who are pure relations, the progressive experience of the self transcending self is a direct experience and consciousness of what it means to be a divine Person. Since Christ is the perfect image of the Father as act of obedience, the more relational the human person is as belief in act, i.e. in prayer, the more he is son in the Son.

But this is not knowledge by sensation and abstractive categories. It is knowledge by existential assimilation. There are concrete steps that must be marked here:
The first step is common sense reason; i.e. to take the historical Christ in the light of the “revolution” he produced immediately. His explosiveness did not come as the result of later utopian lucubrations. R-B asks along with the critical scholarship: “What happened during those twenty years after Jesus’ Crucifixion? Where did this Christology come from [as in Phil. 2, 6-11]? To say that it is the fruit of anonymous collective formulations, whose authorship we seek to discover, does not actually explain anything. How could these unknown groups be so creative? How were they so persuasive and how did they manage to prevail? Isn’t it more logical, even historically speaking, to assume that the greatness came at the beginning, and that the figure of Jesus really did explode all existing categories and could only be understood in the light of the mystery of God?”[40]

This “explosion” from the beginning demands an acknowledgement from reason that something other than the normal categories of being are to be deployed here to explain what has been historically unexplainable. It is not reasonable to look for the explanation of a world that had in fact been overturned by the appearance of Christ who is reported to have said in the Gospels “I came forth from the Father and have come into the world…I have overcome the world” (Jn. 16, 28-33), and then insist that these words were not said by him but inserted by posterior sources as myth to explain what had in fact happened. The most obvious explanation is the remark of Guardini: “The person of Jesus is unprecedented and therefore measurable by no already existing norm. Christian recognition consists of realizing that all things really began with Jesus Christ; that he is his own norm – and therefore ours – for he is Truth.”[41]

Let’s not omit Cardinal Schönborn’s observation of the primitive experience of the Church on the equality and oneness of the Father and the Son that was explicitly opposed by Arius. According to his (Arius’), the Spirit was subordinated to the Son, and the Son subordinated to the Father and therefore, neither could fully reveal the inner life of the one above. The Spirit could reveal the full inner life of the Son, nor the Son reveal the full inner life of the Father: “Neither the Logos nor the Spirit subordinated under it could reveal God completely and make known God’s inner life. Yet this, from the beginning, was the faith and the experience of the Church: that the gift of the Holy Spirit, bestowed on the believer, is the gift of God himself, that communion with Christ is communion with God”[42] (emphasis mine).

A second step is to confront the reality that no creature can see God “in the face.” This is an excellent metaphor to describe the impossibility of fitting the reality of the Godhead into a mental category (concept) abstracted from the sensible perception of the created cosmos. Therefore, the received ontological categories of substance and accident are not false but inadequate to know God in himself. As R-B remarks: “In terms of the present question, the main point is that although Moses’ immediate relation to God makes him the great mediator of Revelation, the mediator of the Covenant, it has it limits. He does not behold God’s face.”[43] We have not sensible perception of God as God, and therefore cannot apply abstracted categories from sensible creation as adequate likenesses to “intellegere” (ab intus legere) i.e. to read Him from within ourselves. Therefore, as we cannot see God “in the face,” we cannot use concepts according to our way of knowing such as “substance” and “accident” to do an adequate Christology and consequent metaphysical anthropology. As he will say at the very end of the book: “Jesus is wholly ‘relational,’ that his whole being is nothing other than relation to the Father.”[44] The metaphysics of person that is “wholly ‘relational’” that is not process philosophy, and which is realist and absolute – not caving into heraclitian relativism, has yet to be done. The formulation of the Christian anthropology of Gaudium et Spes #24: “man, the only earthly creature that God has willed for itself, finds himself by the sincere gift of self” is on the books and at the very core of the entire enterprise of Vatican II and the 14 encyclicals of John Paul II. R-B has found the state of quantum physics to be epistemologically isometric to this state of knowing beyond categories and abstraction.

The importance of the point is to be found in the fact that the present culture of Enlightenment rationalism, when dealing with the “back” of the mystery of God vis a vis human reason, replaces the ontological reality of the Mystery by myth as an ontologically ungrounded subjectivism. This kills the possibility of faith. Hence, the onus of the book is to restore ontological density and weight to the Person of Jesus as He speaks and acts throughout the Gospels as they are read sine glossas and as He was understood in real time by the disciples and eye-witnesses.

Let us go through this by steps:

1) R-B has been quite explicit on this point of the inadequacy of the Hellenic thought on substance. I offer some explicit references here: On the philosophic category of substance, he remarked in his postconciliar work, “Introduction to Christianity:”

“In this idea of relativity in word and love [that is the person in God], independent of the concept of substance and not to be classified among the ‘accidents,’ Christian thought discovered the kernel of the concept of person, which describes something other and infinitely more than the mere idea of the ‘individual.’ Let us listen once again to St. Augustine: ‘In God there are no accidents, only substance and relation.’ Therein lies concealed a revolution in man’s view of the world: the undivided sway of thinking in terms of substance is ended; relation is discovered as an equally valid primordial mode of reality. It becomes possible to surmount what we call today ‘objectifying thought;’ a new plane of being comes into view.”[45]

Later, in a lecture on the understanding of the person in educational theory published in 1973, he wrote:

“I believe that if one follows this struggle in which human reality had to be brought in, as it were, and affirmed for Jesus, one sees what tremendous effort and intellectual transformation lay behind the working out of this concept of person, which was quite foreign in its inner disposition to the Greek and the Latin mind. It is not conceived in substantialist, but… in existential terms… Remaining on the level of the Greek mind, Boethius defined ‘person’ as naturae rationalis individual substantia, as the individual substance of a rational nature. One sees that the concept of person stands entirely on the level of substance. This cannot clarify anything about the Trinity or about Christology; it is an affirmation that remains on the level of the Greek mind which thinks in substantialist terms.”[46]

More recently, he refers to “person” as a “new philosophical category… a concept that has become for us the fundamental concept of the analogy between God and man, the very center of philosophical thought.”[47] In the light of this, he remarks:
“The meaning of an already existing category, that of ‘relation,’ was fundamentally changed. In the Aristotelian table of categories, relation belongs to the group of accidents that point to substance and are dependent on it; in God, therefore, there are no accidents. Through the Christian doctrine of the Trinity, relatio moves out of the substance-accident framework. Now God himself is described as a Trinitarian set of relations, as relatio subsistens. When we say that man is the image of God, it means that he is a being designed for relationship; it means that, in and through all his relationships, he seeks that relation which is the ground of his existence.”[48]

2) A second step is this remark of Cardinal Schönborn of Ratzinger-Benedict’s “single ‘symphonic’ attempt to prove the ‘coherency’ of the figure of Jesus as the One who is in an absolute and immediate relationship with God.”[49] This is an intellectual step that is not reducible to reason. John Henry Newman said: “Logic makes but a sorry rhetoric with the multitude; first shoot round corners, and you may not despair of converting by a syllogism…
“Life is not long enough for a religion of inferences; we shall never have done beginning, if we determine to begin with proof. We shall ever be laying our foundations; we shall turn theology into evidences, and divines into textuaries. We shall never get at our first principles. Resolve to believe nothing, and you must prove your proofs and analyze your elements, sinking farther and farther, and finding ‘in the lowest depth a lower deep,’ till you come to the broad bosom of skepticism. I would rather be bound to defend the reasonableness of assuming that Christianity is true, than to demonstrate a moral governance from the physical world. Life is for action. If we insist on proofs for every thing, we shall never come to action: to act you must assume, and that assumption is faith.”[50]



Elevating Reason to a New Horizon: To Be = To Be In Relation



The Novelty: In 1990, then Cardinal Ratzinger presented to the Synod of Bishops in Rome the following: “We must acknowledge the novelty of the New Testament to understand the Gospel as Gospel, as Good News… In its very novelty, the message of Christ and His works together fulfill everything that went before and form a visible center which brings God’s action and us together. If we seek the true novelty of the New Testament, Christ Himself stands before us. This novelty consists not so much in new ideas or conceptions – the novelty is a person: God, who becomes a man and draws human beings to Himself.”

Ratzinger then expatiates on this novelty: “The essential factor in the image of Christ as handed on by the writings of the New Testament consists in His unique relationship with God. Jesus knows that He has a direct mission from God; God’s authority is at work in Him (cf. Mt. 7, 29; 21, 23; Mk. 1, 27; 11, 28; Lk. 20,1; 24, 19 etc.). He proclaims a message which He has received from the Father; He has been ‘sent’ with an office entrusted to Him by the Father… A ‘paradoxical’ moment of this mission clearly appears in the formula of John which Augustine so profoundly interpreted: My doctrine is not mine… (7, 16). Jesus has nothing of his own, except the Father. His doctrine is not His own, because even He Himself is not His own, but in His entire existence He is, as it were, Son from the Father and directed towards the Father. But for the same reason, because He has nothing of His own, everything that the Father has belongs to Him as well: ‘I and the Father are one’ (10, 30). The giving back of His whole existence and activity to the Father, an act through which He did not seek His own will (5, 30), made Him credible, because the word of the Father shone through Him like light. Here the mystery of the divine Trinity shines forth which is also the model for our own existence.”[51]

This relationality of the Person of Christ is the epistemological threshold that must be crossed to understand the exegesis at work in R-B’s “Jesus of Nazareth.” In the most succinct but no less obscure fashion, he announced this metaphysical novelty of the person of the Father (and therefore, the Son) in his Introduction to Christianity: “In this idea of relativity in word and love, independent of the concept of substance and not to be classified among the ‘accident’s,’ Christian thought discovered the kernel of the concept of person, which describes something other and infinitely more than the mere idea of the ‘individual.’”[52]

Now, the task of Ratzinger-Benedict is to lead the mind from dealing with Scripture as revelation and the Person of Christ as an object. The work is not one of logic and syllogism, but of offering Christ’s words and deeds as recorded in Scripture as manifestations of himself as divine Person (Son), and that as pure relation to the Father. Ratzinger claims this to be the overriding message of the New Testament and its unheard of novelty.

Having ascertained from the Greek Fathers and Augustine that the Persons in the Trinity must be pure relation in order to be One God and yet irreducibly different, he offers the impact of this on Christology: Jesus is not person as substance (Being-in-Self) in which the salvific actions of the Christ are accidents. Rather, “the Christian community at Rome, which formulated our Creed, was still completely aware of the significance of the word’s [Christ] content. The transformation into a mere proper name, which it is for us today, was certainly complete at a very early period, but here ‘Christ’ is still used as the definition of what this Jesus is.”[53] The meaning of the fusion of the name of Jesus and Christ means that He is what He does, and He does Who He is. As divine Person, Jesus is pure relation to the Father. He is nothing “in-Himself.” Therefore, “there is no private area reserved for an ‘I’ which remains in the background behind the deeds and actions [understand “substance” here] and thus at some time or other can be ‘off duty;’ here there is no ‘I’ separate from the work; the ‘I’ is the work and the work is the ‘I.’”[54]


Reading the “Corpus” of the Book in the Light of Christ as “Relation”


That sets the stage for undertaking the corpus of “Jesus of Nazareth.” It means that the very words and deeds – all of them – are the gift-relation of His very Person. They are the manifestation of the God-head among us. God is present in deed. When He speaks, He speaks Himself. His word is Himself. When He acts, He acts Himself. His deed, is Himself. His Person is totally transcendent to all of the categories of thought in which we could pigeon-hole them. R-B significantly uses the word “New” or “novelty” to describe the words and the deeds of Jesus, because there has never been a God-man before, and consequently what He says and does is “new.”

It would be significant to understand that the relation of the human and the divine in Christ are not “in parallel”[55] as independently autonomous. Confusion here has produced all the dualisms of supernatural/natural; grace/nature; faith/reason; Church/State. R-B’s insight taken from the Council of Constantinople III (680-681) speaks not about “nature” but about the human will and the divine will. The operative dynamic of the insight consists in understanding that the faculty of will – as an accident of substance –does not will. It is only the divine Person that wills. There are two ontologically complete and autonomous natures in the one Person of the Logos. That means that there is only one Subject, one Person who wills with two wills. The are not “in parallel” but “compenetrate.” The undiminished human will, not only does not lose its freedom but achieves it fully in being deployed as the human will of the divine Person living out the pure relationality of His Person by obedience to death on the Cross with His human will. The two wills (divine and human) are one “personal” will.

This is the ontological explanation of every affirmation in the book that Jesus is His Word and is His Work. Every word and work is the action of a Being – a divine Person – who is nothing but relational to the Father. He is not a substance who acts and speaks accidentally, but total self-gift in each word and action.

Jesus the New Moses

1) Jesus is the New Moses not only because he is prophet, but as Moses he not only sees God, but sees Him in the Face; and this because he and the Father are one[56] “in substance.” As Benedict said recently in Brazil: “Who knows God?” He answered with that supernatural boldness that characterizes scripture and Benedict’s reading of it: “Only God knows God, only his Son who is God from God, true God, knows him.”
The Baptism of Jesus

2) The Baptism is not a new vocation because Jesus is already God as pure relation to the Father. However, as man, it is a new way of being not only as the “assumption” of our humanity but, since his Person is His deed, he is able with a human will to personally enter into our historical deviation of will: our sin. He freely and lovingly assumes our sin as his own (2 Cor. 5, 21) and starts on the way of the Cross to re-start the whole of history by extirpating our guilt. Ratzinger-Benedict says: “Jesus’ Baptism, then, is understood as a repetition of the whole of history, which recapitulates the past and anticipates the future.”[57] To be sure, as pure self-gift, Christ not only was loaded with our sins, but he became sin: “For our sakes he made him to be sin who knew nothing of sin so that in him we might become the justice of God” (2 Cor. 5, 21).[58] Baptism for Christ, as it is for us, is the entrance into a “death event,”[59] “pro-existence,” a new way of being, and therefore a new name: “Son” (“This is my beloved Son”).

The Temptations of Jesus

3) The Temptations: What are they about? “God is the issue: Is he real, reality itself, or isn’t he? Is he good, or do we have to invent the good ourselves? The God question is the fundamental question, and it sets us down right at the crossroads of human existence. What must the Savior of the world do or not do? That is the question the temptations of Jesus are about.”[60] In a word, are we radically autonomous and in control of everything whereby we must turn the stones to bread, interpret scripture as we see fit, or create a better world by ourselves? The response to each of these three temptations then, and now, is our self-gift to Christ as He is to the Father. All true temporal solutions derive truth and power from placing Christ at the summit of all human activities and our becoming other Christs. At issue is the gift of self, not self-assertion.

The Gospel of the KINGDOM of GOD

4) The Kingdom of God: The major insight to record here is that the Kingdom is not an “object” such as an institutional theocracy or mere clerical state of affairs. The Kingdom is a Person as John Paul II recorded in “Redemptoris Missio (18),” “The kingdom of God is not a concept, a doctrine, or a program subject to free interpretation, but it is before all else a person with the face and name of Jesus of Nazareth, the image of the invisible God…” Benedict presents the exegesis of the Greek Father Origen who offers Kingdom as 1) Person, 2) interior contemplative life and, finally, the Church. He mentions the early 20th century liberal theology of Harnack who interpreted three contemporary strains of interpreting the Kingdom: the cultic of the Greek Slavic; the Roman Catholic structural Church and the German Protestant centered on the individual and moral action.

It is precisely in this context of trying to construe the meaning of the Kingdom of God that Ratzinger-Benedict cuts to the chase and re-enunciates his major theme (the disappearance of God) and the surprising answer: God becomes present by individual persons obeying him as Sovereign in the performance of their ordinary domestic and secular activities. He apodictically asserts that when Jesus proclaims the Kingdom, “he is quite simply proclaiming God, and proclaiming him to be the living God, who is able to act concretely in the world and in history and is even now so acting. He is telling us: ‘God exists’ and “God is really God,’ which means that he holds in his hands the threads of the world. In this sense, Jesus’ message is very simply and thoroughly God-centered. The new and totally specific thing about his message is that he is telling us: God is acting now – this is the hour when God is showing himself in history as its Lord, as the living God, in a way that goes beyond anything seen before. “Kingdom of God’ is therefore an inadequate translation. It would be better to speak of God’s being-Lord, of his lordship.”

This is the major message of the book, and proclaimed in the context of the topic of the Kingdom of God. It is not a thing, an object, an institution. It is a Person who, as Creator and Redeemer, is actively present in the world. Those who freely obey him, are in themselves the Kingdom in person. In his Person.

Secularity: It is in this context, and the context of the Rabbi Neusner’s Sabbath (Sermon on the Mount), that we can see the topic of secularity as a radical novelty – as novel as the Person of Christ himself as God-man - rise to the conceptual surface. This is because the personal relationality to Christ cuts the chains encasing persons in any kind of totalitarianism be it theocracy, Marxism. He says in a quote worthy of copying at length:

“The decisive thing is the underlying communion of will with God given by Jesus. It frees men and nations to discover what aspects of political and social order accord with this communion of will and so to work out their own juridical arrangements. The absence of the whole social dimension in Jesus’ preaching, which Neusner discerningly critiques from a Jewish perspective, includes, but all conceals, an epoch-making event in world history that has not occurred as such in any other culture. The concrete political and social order is released from the directly sacred realm, from theocratic legislation, and is transferred to the freedom of man, whom Jesus has established in God’s will and taught thereby to see the right and the good.”[61]

And then, lamenting the forgetfulness of God with the consequent loss of relationality and therefore god-like freedom of escaping from the self and therefore to act in accord with the truth – in a word, the obsession with the unencumbered Self whose turn back on self is aided and abetted by the whimsical use of cyber-gadgetry – he notes the collapse of “legitimate secularity” into secularism: “In our day, of course, this freedom ahs been totally wrenched away from any godly perspective or from communion with Jesus. Freedom for universality and so for the legitimate secularity of the state has been transformed into an absolute secularism, for which forgetfulness of God exclusive concern with success seem to have become guiding principles.”[62]

The Sermon on the Mount

5) The Sermon on the Mount, from the Beatitudes, to the Torah of the Messiah, to the Fourth Commandment, to the reform of social doctrine of both Old and New Testaments - all find their fulfillment in the Person of Christ as relation. If we were to take each of the Beatitudes in their apparent contradiction, we would find the constant retelling of Gaudium et Spes #24 (the Christological anthropology): that the person becomes self by the sincere gift of self. To wit: to be poor in spirit – have nothing for self, not even the self – is to become another Christ, i.e. the Kingdom of Heaven; to be meek is not to possess anything for self; to hunger for justice is to habitually give the other his due (which is love); to be merciful is a self-giving comparable to the forgiveness of the enemy by the Father; to be clean of heart is to treat the other as subject and not reduce him or her to an object of consumption; to make peace is to accommodate to the other as would a son of the Father, etc. The beatitudes “apply to the disciple because they were first paradigmatically lived by Christ himself.”[63]”The Beatitudes display the mystery of Christ himself, and they call us into communion with him. But precisely because of their hidden Christological character, the Beatitudes are also a road map for the Church, which recognizes in them the model of what she herself should be.” [64] They take on a paradoxical character because they express the relational reality of the Person of Christ which cannot fit into any conceptual, abstractive categories “from below.” Hence, the need for the skins of new epistemology to hold the new wine of divine and human relationality.

THE LORD’S PRAYER

6) The Lord’s Prayer: As the Sermon on the Mount is really about a person who is nothing but relation in his innermost core as obedience to and mission from the Father, so the Our Father is the way the God-man teaches us who are made in the image of that person, the Son, who to speak to God who has made us “sons in the Son.” Ratzinger is at pains here to show that the Gospels themselves (and Luke in particular) are presenting - as historical reality – the person of Jesus of Nazareth as prayer to the Father. As strange as this may sound, Ratzinger-Benedict is asserting that the very Being of the Person, Jesus Christ, is not what we have understood to be “substance” with the qualification of “rational nature,” but rather that the “meaning” of Divine Person is not to-be-in-self, but to-be-for-other. The Divine Person is neither of the created cosmological categories of “substance” and the accident “relation.” A Divine Person is of another order of Being that is pure relationality that Luke has been keen to observe as the act of prayer itself.[65]

Then-Joseph Ratzinger made this strange sounding assertion explicit in his Introduction: “What faith really states is precisely that with Jesus it is not possible to distinguish office and person; with him, this differentiation simply becomes inapplicable. The person is the office, the office is the person. The two are no longer divisible. Here there is no private area reserved for an ‘I’ which remains in the background behind the deeds and actions and thus at some time or other can be ‘off-duty; here there is no ‘I’ separate from the work; the ‘I’ is the work and the work is the ‘I.’”[66] In “Jesus of Nazareth,” Ratzinger-Benedict now says: “Finally – on the subject of specifically Lukan features – we have already seen several times that this Evangelist devotes special attention to Jesus’ prayer as the source of his preaching and action. He shows us that all of Jesus’ words and deeds issue from his inner oneness with the Father, from the dialogue between Father and Son. If we have good reason to be convinced that the Holy Scriptures are ‘inspired’ that they matured in a special sense under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, then we also have good reason to be convinced that precisely these specific aspects of the Lukan tradition preserve essential features of the original [historical] figure of Jesus for us”[67](my underline).

With this, the author is saying that the 200 year split of the Jesus of history and the Jesus of faith is really due to the epistemological prejudice that “substances” – beings in the category of “in-self” and not “in-other” – simply could not “be” as Christ is presented. This failure to cross the epistemological threshold from object (substance) to subject (divine Self) led to the presumption, and then the prejudice, that the text had to be tampered with by a posterior faith experience, that the text could not be saying what the Church believed. Once that mistake is made, it is a short step to disbelief in the supernatural character of revelation itself and the conviction that whatever is of a supernatural character is human wishful thinking. From there, we proceed to the absence of God experientially and what then-Cardinal Ratzinger famously called “the dictatorship of relativism.

By way of example, take Bultmann’s conviction that the uniqueness of John’s Gospel is really due to it being a Gnostic document that Christianity took over. R-B quotes him: “That is not to say that the idea of the incarnation of the redeemer has in some way penetrated Gnosticism from Christianity; it is itself originally Gnostic, and was taken over at a very early stage by Christianity, and made fruitful for Christology” (The Gospel of John, p. 26)[68](emphasis mine). R-B quietly asks: “How does Bultmann know that?” and then in response using exegetical expertise, he says: “On this decisive point Bultmann is wrong.” [69]
The “Our Father” (by parts)

The Meaningof Father: (135) Father is love that engenders life to the excess of loving the enemy. The love of the Father engenders the Son as another equal “I.” The only way to know the Father is through the Son by doing what the Son does and therefore being who the Son is. By so doing, one experiences God in oneself.

Mother?: (140) In Sacred Scripture, God is Mother as image but never as title. The Old Testament excluded the “mother deities” that surrounded Israel and which did not express the pure transcendence of God. They “always and probably inevitably express pantheism and so the prayer language of Israel (which is normative for us) always referred to God as ‘Father.’”
Our: (141) Because sonship was not “ready-made” (138) and becomes reality only by relation to Christ, the only begotten, natural, Son, and the others. It is demanding (Cross) that “we step out of the closed circle of our ‘I.’”

The Name of God: (143-145) God gives His name “I Am” to establish relation with us. Do we reverence the “incomprehensible closeness?”

They Kingdom Come: (146) Since Kingdom of God is the existence and action of God now (not merely eschatologically at the end of time) as “Lord,” we ask as Solomon did for “a listening heart” so that we may become God’s Kingdom in person. We cannot hear God as Father if we have not ontologically connected with Christ by sacrament and prayer. There is only one Son of God (Gal 3, 16), and we are sons in the Son. Note that the Kingdom is a “person” (both God as Lord and we as listening and obeying “other Christs), not a theocratic structure nor an end-time reality. Secularity of the political and economic structure, as the exercise of the freedom of self-mastery in accordance with the truth, is the true and legitimate characteristic of the Kingdom.
Thy Will Be Done on Earth As it is in Heaven: (147) The kingdom of God is God’s existing and acting now in history as it is lived in heaven. But Heaven is a person and in a person where God’s will is done. God’s will is the ontological tendency in us as imaging God as relation. The Decalogue is not an imposition but a revealed response to the ontological tendency[70] that beats within us. It is “an exegesis of the truth of our being.” The notes of our existence are deciphered for us so that we can read them and translate them into life” (148). Obedience is the being of Christ. “The unity of his will with the Father’s will is the core of his very being.” (149) Once again, we confront the thread throughout the book and the entire mind of Ratzinger-Benedict: to be = to be in relation. Christ is the obedience to the will of the Father and therefore is one with the Father (Jn. 10, 30). “Jesus himself is ‘heaven’ in the deepest and truest sense of the word” (150). As we permit ourselves to be drawn into Christ’s obedience we enter heaven while on earth. This connects with the freedom and autonomy of true “secularity.”
Give us This Day Our Daily Bread: 150) The Fathers were almost unanimous in seeing the Eucharist here.

Forgive Us Our Trespasses as We Forgive…” (157) Guilt as evil can only be overcome by forgiveness which is equal to suffering for love.[71] Again, we will see here that the ontological reality is to be in relation. Guilt and evil destroy being. Being must be restored and rebuilt. This is the same theo-logic as in John Paul II’s “The Meaning of Christian Suffering” and the burden of his last book: “Memory and Identity” as commented on by Benedict on December 22, 2005. In the dynamic where being is relation as love (agape), only suffering for love (agape), not retaliation, restores being. The grave danger of our times is the trivialization of evil which is the loss of the sense of sin.

Lead Us Not Into Temptation: (163) There is a need for dangerous trials to be purified whereby one escapes from the self and develops as “alter Christus.” We pray that God remember how weak we are (St. Cyprian). The reasons for God’s permission of temptation are 1) humility and
2) God’s glory.

But Deliver Us From Evil: (166) “Evils can be necessary for purification, but evil (singular) destroys.” Evil (singular) is loss of faith and the ability to see God. With faith in Christ we have God and “if God is for us, who is against us?” (Rom. 8, 31).

THE DISCIPLES

7.) Disciples: (170) Scripture reveals that choosing the disciples was not simply the selection of individuals to go and perform a function in a matter of fact world. It had theological content in that it was the engendering of a new kind of life (Zoë: Trinitarian/relational life) and a bonding with Christ Himself as God-man. It came from a dynamic of relation with the Father (prayer) whereby he engendered them to be another “Him” and to do what He did: to preach the Word (Himself) so as to engender supernatural “life” (Zoë) in the others, to perform miracles greater than His own and to cast out demons. The author says: “the calling of the twelve, far from being purely functional, takes on a deeply theological meaning. Their calling emerges from the Son’s dialogue with the Father and is anchored there.”

The ramifications are ontological. It is the appearance of the metaphysics of relation that obtains in the horizon of the Trinity that now appears as Christology and the anthropology of discipleship. It means that the mission of the apostles and the disciples is the same mission as Christ’s, and the mission of Christ, before a “doing” is a “Being-from” the Father. Jesus Christ is Himself Mission since His whole Being is relation to and from the Father. To be nothing but relation to the Father discloses itself in that Luke observed the Person of Christ to be prayer. “(Luke) devotes special attention to Jesus’ prayer as the source of his preaching and action. He shows us that all of Jesus’ words and deeds issue from his inner oneness with the Father, from the dialogue between Father and Son” (182). In Himself, Jesus is nothing. His doctrine is not His own. His Being is not His own. His Being is to be from and to the Father, so much so that He is nothing in Himself. Yet He is not the Father: “The Father is greater than I.” As distinct yet totally relational, this means that “I and the Father are one” (Jn. 10, 30). This is the profound meaning of “communio,” as we have seen, that each of the parts is irreducibly different yet one cannot be without the other. If the Father is the very act of engendering the Son, then if there is no Son, there can be no Father. And vice versa. If there is no Father, there can be no Son. The whole exceeds the sum of the parts, because if there is no whole as one, there can be no parts because their identity now consists in relation.

This is not a word game or distinctions without a difference. Because of the relation to Christ, the disciples are able to do what they never could do in separation from Christ. Ratzinger-Benedict declares: “How could they say of their own accord, ‘I forgive you your sins’? How could they say, ‘This is my body’? How could they perform the imposition hands and say, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’? None of those things which constitute apostolic activity are done by one’s own authority.”

Note how the author- in another work[72] - highlights this ontological metamorphosis from within the texts of the Gospel: “As the Father has sent me, even so I send you” (Jn. 20, 21; cf. 13, 20; 17, 18). In a bold identification, the author said: “Jesus gave His power to the Apostles in such a way that He made their ministry, as it were, a continuation of His own mission. ‘He who receives you receives me…”As the Being and the Mission of the Son is from the Father, so the Being and Mission of the disciples is from Christ. The parallel stands: “The Son can do nothing of His own accord” (Jn. 5, 19-30); “Apart from Me you can do nothing” (Jn. 15, 5). Ratzinger comments: “This ‘nothing’ which the disciples share with Jesus expresses at one and the same time both the power and the infirmity of the apostolic ministry.”[73] The “Nihil posse” of the disciple (layman or minister) is such that he can do nothing for the mission without being relation to Christ.

This ex-propriation of power is precisely the need to be engendered, empowered and affirmed by Christ, all of which is called in the tradition of the Church: “sacrament.” The sacraments of discipleship are Baptism, Confirmation and Order. They make the disciple “priest” as mediator in a new way. Instead of mediating between “this one” and “that,” Christ has inaugurated the novelty of being priest of His own existence. He mediates between Himself and the Father. He makes the gift of Himself. By the sacraments, Christ empowers the disciple, now priest, to make the gift of himself such as to be priest of his own existence. This is the “novelty” of Christ’s priesthood, and therefore, ours.


Consequences of the Ontological Change in the Disciple:


1) To teach: But to teach is not merely the communication of concepts. It is the giving of the self as “event.” In another document, “The Ministry and Life of Priests,” Ratzinger-Benedict said: “Jesus does not convey a knowledge that is independent from his own person… He is something different from, and more than, a Rabbi. As his preaching unfolds, it becomes ever clearer that his parables refer to himself, that the ‘Kingdom’ and his person belong together, that the Kingdom comes in his person. The decision that he demands is a decision about how one stand toward him, as with Peter, who said, ‘You are the Christ’ (Mark 8, 29).”[74] As a concrete example of preaching as the event of personal self-gift, Ratzinger-Benedict offers the impact of observing the founder of Opus Dei celebrate Mass as preaching moment. The preaching takes place without words while the meaning comes from the self given: “I would like to recall now an episode from the early days of Opus Dei, which illustrates the point. A young woman had the opportunity to listen for the first time to a talk given by Fr. Escriva, the founder of Opus Dei. She was very curious to hear a famous preacher. But after participating in a Mass he celebrated, she no longer wanted to listen to a human orator. She recounted later that from that moment on, her only interest was to discover the word and will of God.” He explains: “The ministry of the word requires that the priest share in the kenosis of Christ, in his ‘increasing and decreasing.’ The fact that the priest does not speak about himself, but bears the message of another, certainly does not mean that he is not personally involved, but precisely the opposite: It is a giving-away-of-the-self in Christ that takes up the path of his Easter mystery, and leads to a true finding-of-the-self, and communion with him who is the Word of God in person.”[75]

We see the same effect take place on Pentecost where teaching is not merely conceptual but an event where the self is given under the impulse of the Spirit and each understands in his own language. The understanding is other than verbal and conceptual.
2) To Heal: The mission of the disciples is to heal the world from the domination of evil which consists in the turn to the self. At its deepest level, to heal is to redeem. The miracles point to God as Lord of all creation. The great work of healing is the re-constitution of reason as reason by the act of faith as act of self-transcendence. This activation of the being of the believer is precisely the exposure of reason to the full reality of being. It re-offers reason the absolute-in-fact for which it yearns but which has been dormant since the original sin.

The Regensburg thesis dealt with the de-parochialization of the faith of Israel by the exposure to Greek rationality in the Exile experience. The One God of Israel now becomes the One God of heaven and earth. Discipleship now moves from the 12 tribes to universality and globalization. In Regensburg, R-B said: “Within the Old Testament, the process which started at the burning bush came to new maturity at the time of the Exile, when the God of Israel, an Israel now deprived of its land and worship, was proclaimed as the God of heaven and earth and described in a simple formula which echoes the words uttered at the burning bush: ‘I Am.’ This new understanding of God is accompanied by a kind of enlightenment… Thus, despite the bitter conflict with those Hellenistic rulers who sought to accommodate it forcibly to the customs and idolatrous cult of the Greeks, biblical faith, in the Hellenistic period, encountered the best of Greek thought at a deep level, resulting in a mutual enrichment evident especially in the later wisdom literature.”[76]

It is most suggestive to see the mutuality of enrichment of faith and reason where faith in the one God is taken over by 6th century Ionian philosophies as the search for the one supreme reality from Thales forward, and the God that had been limited to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob now becomes the God of all heaven and earth.

THE MESSAGE OF THE PARABLES

8) The Parables: The parables are not allegories, but stories of real life. The conceit of the parable is not morality but the Person of Christ Himself: “The deepest theme of Jesus’ preaching was his own mystery, the mystery of the Son in whom God is among us and keeps his word; he announces the Kingdom of God as coming and as having come in his person.”[77] Together with the notion of Kingdom and Disciples that we have seen, it becomes evident that Christ is teaching us in the parables how to be another Him. He Himself is the content and meaning of the parables. As he noted in his homily on “Advent:” “Advent (“parousia”) remind us… of two things: first, that God’s presence in the world has already begun, that he is present though in a hidden manner; second, that his presence has only begun and is not yet full and complete, that it is in a state of development,… His presence has already begun, and we, the faithful, are the ones through whom he wishes to be present in the world.”[78]
Introduction: The Johannine Question: We saw above that Bultmann considers the supernatural character of John’s Gospel to be Gnostic in source. Whatever is not reducible to objectified scientifically to categories of this sensible world is considered mythical. Bultmann says[79] “Insofar as it is mythological talk it is not credible to men and women today because for them the mythical world picture is a thing of the past… Experience and control of the world have developed to such an extent through science and technology that no one can or does seriously maintain the New Testament world picture.”[80]

R-B bases his rebuttal on the scholarship of Martin Hengel.[81] He counters: “(Today’s scholarship) definitively confirmed and elaborated something that Bultmann basically already knew: The Fourth Gospel rests on extraordinarily precise knowledge of times and places, and so can only have been produced by someone who had an excellent first hand knowledge of Palestine at the time of Jesus. A further point that has become clear is that the Gospel thinks and argues entirely in terms of the Old Testament – of the Torah (Rudolf Pesch) – and that its whole way of arguing is deeply rooted in the Judaism of Jesus’ time. The language of the Gospel, which Bultmann regarded as ‘Gnostic,’ actually bears unmistakable signs of the book’s intimate association with this milieu. ‘The work was written in simple koine Greek, steeped I the language of Jewish piety. This Greek was also spoken by the upper classes in Jerusalem… [where] Scripture was read in Hebrew and Greek, and prayer and discussion went on in both language’s’ (M. Hengel, The Johannine Question, p. 113)” [82]

The Principal Images of John’s Gospel:

Benedict selects water, vine (wine) bread and shepherd. All refer to the Person of Christ in the relational dynamic of self-gift: Christ is the living water (241) that leaps up to eternal life. The life that He is and gives is not bios but Zoë which is relation as Trinitarian life.

Vine (259) is introduced in Jn. 15, 1 with the words “I am the true vine.” “The word true is the first important thing to notice about this saying… But the really important thing about this saying is the opening: ‘I am.’ The Son identifies himself with the vine; he himself has become the vine…. In the Son, he (God) himself has become the vine; he has forever identified himself, his very being, with the vine”... The vine is a Christological title that as such embodies a whole ecclesiology. The vine signifies Jesus’ inseparable oneness with his own, who through him and with him are all ‘vine,’ and whose calling is to ‘remain’ in the vine.”[83] The vine is the Church that always needs to be pruned from progressive bureaucracy as man-made creations that render it unwieldy. Ratzinger suggested that such structural proliferation for the Church was like dressing David in the armor of Saul to fight Goliath.

What takes place here in imagery that has ontological value, the meaning of being is transmuted with realism from the intellectual categories of substance and accident to the higher experience and consciousness of divine and human personhood.
Wine: R-P offers the “excess”[84] of 180 gallons of wine for a small wedding as sign of the excessiveness of the relational character of the divine Person as self-gift.
Bread: R-B connects Moses giving the manna with Christ giving Himself as bread. Moses is the figure of Christ who sees God, but only in the back. He gives the Torah (word) as bread. Christ, being one with the Father, sees God in the face and gives Himself as Bread (Word). Faith is the act of assimilating the Word which is Bread. The Word is Bread for the life of the world to be consumed on the Cross.

This needs completing. God as Word becomes bread in the incarnation of the Logos. The Word becomes Flesh which is bread “for” the world (Jn. 6, 51). Again the relation theme surfaces in that the Incarnation is not a static “being” God in the flesh, and then subsequently – and accidentally – goes to the Cross. The very being God-flesh is the relation of being self-gift of obedience to the Father for love of man. Only a relational ontology can explain how both the Theology of Incarnation and Theology of the Cross are not only not opposed but explained by the same ontological dynamic of person as relation-gift “Jesus becomes man in order to give himself and to take the place of the animal sacrifices, which could only be a gesture of longing, but not an answer.”[85]

This is not myth. “Yes, it really did happen. Jesus is no myth. He is a man of flesh and blood and he stands as a fully real part of history. We can go to the very places where he himself went. We can hear his words through his witnesses. He died and he is risen. It is as if the mysterious Passion contained in bread had waited for him, had stretched out its arms toward him; it as if the myths had waited for him, because in him what they long for came to pass. The same is true of wine.”[86] The weakness of consigning the miracles, death for sinners and resurrection from same, identification with Father, etc. to myth is the Enlightenment rationalism that can only deal with the perceived empirical “fact” and not recognize another level of experience in the self as relation and gift, and that is the really real undistorted by sensible perception and mediating concepts. It is like saying: we cannot reduce these events of Jesus Christ to the canons of the scientific method, therefore, they cannot have happened or be real. Hence, they must be myths. Let us presuppose this to be the case.

The thread running through all the Johannine images is the relational self-gift of the “I” of Christ that was understood to be endemic to the text and not overlaid in it by posterior “myth.” R-B proposes the rubric of “excess” as sign of this relationality and self-giftedness. He comments in his “Introduction to Christianity:” “Both stories are concerned, through their reference to the Eucharist, with Christ himself: Christ is the infinite self-expenditure of God. And both point back, as we found with the principle of ‘for,’[87] to the law governing the structure of creation, in which life squanders a million seeds in order to save one living one; in which a whole universe is squandered in order to prepare at one point a place for spirit, for man. Excess is God’s trade mark in his creation; as the Fathers put it, ‘God does not reckon his gifts by the measure.’ At the same time excess is also the real foundation and form of the history of salvation, which in the last analysis is nothing other than the truly breathtaking fact that God, in an incredible outpouring of himself, expends not only a universe but his own self in order to lead man, a speck of dust, to salvation. So excess or superfluity – let us repeat – is the real definition or mark of the history of salvation. The purely calculating mind will always find it absurd that for man God himself should be expended. Only the lover can understand the folly of a love to which prodigality is a law and excess alone is sufficient. Yet if it is true that the creation lives from excess or superfluity, that man is a being for whom excess is necessity, how can we wonder that revelation is the superfluous and for that very reason the necessary, the divine, the love in which the meaning of the universe is fulfilled?”[88] (emphasis in font change, mine).

The Shepherd: Jesus crucified is the personalization of Zechariah’s slain Shepherd (“They shall look on him whom they have pierced” (Jn. 19, 37) as well as Isaiah’s Paschal Lamb “Not a bone of him shall be broken” (Jn. 19, 36). Christ, then is Shepherd, sheep and door to the sheepfold: one must become “rock” (Mt. 16, 18) as Christ is “cornerstone” (Acts 4, 11) to be shepherd. And He is food for the sheep. The key to each of these facets of shepherd, sheep, door, and food is the gift of one’s life. “He gives life by giving himself, for he is life (cf. Jn. 1, 4; 3, 36; 11, 25).”[89]
Mutual Knowledge: (282) “I know my own and my own know me, as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep” (Jn. 10, 14 f.). The epistemological ramifications of this point are immense and at the root of the entire theological edifice of Benedict. This epistemology is the nerve of the entire book as the global cultural problematic of the loss of the sense of God and the “dictatorship of relativism.” The relational ontology that is conceptually invisible and – because of this invisibility - the root of historico-critical mythmaking as the cleansing of the supernatural, takes center stage here.

The sheep know the shepherd as the Son knows the Father. The Son “knows” the Father because He is “one” with the Father as equal self gift. Both are total relations, and nothing in themselves besides relation. “Jesus’ own ‘I’ is always opened into ‘being with’ the Father; he is never alone, but is forever receiving himself from and giving himself back to the Father. ‘My teaching is not mine;’ his ‘I’ is opened up into the Trinity. Those who come to know him ‘see’ the Father; they enter into this communion of his with the Father. It is precisely this transcendent dialogue, which encounter with Jesus involves, that once more reveals to us the true Shepherd, who does not take possession of us, leads us to freedom of our being by leading us into communion with God and by giving his own life.”[90]

To be shepherd of the flock would therefore demand a knowledge of Christ as Christ knows the Father. This would demand a parallel relationality of self-gift which would be love characterized as the divine agape. Hence, at the commission of Simon to become the definitive Peter, he is asked triply by Christ if he loves Him with the quality of agape. At each request, Simon is told “feed my lambs,” “feed my sheep;” and to raise filo to agape, Christ says: “Follow me.” R-B sets the relational theme yet again as conclusion to the chapter: “He gave his life for us. He himself is life.”[91]


TWO MILESTONES ON JESUS’ WAY:


Peter’s Confession and the Transfiguration.

Theological Epistemology (Christian [existential] experience[92]):
These two events are decisive for the understanding of Jesus of Nazareth as Jesus the Christ, i.e. as man-God. They involve entering into the dynamic of Jesus’ Person as Trinitarian relation to the Father, and, in so doing, experiencing Him in themselves as “Son of God,” “Son” and “I Am” which is the last and decisive interpretation of His Persona and the burden of the last chapter of the book. Ratzinger has expatiated on this point at length and with great clarity in his “Behold the Pierced One” Ignatius (1986) 13-46. The bare metaphysical and epistemological bones come down to the following: Luke (always Luke) in 6, 12; 9, 18; and 9, 28 discloses the constitutive relationality of the Person of Jesus, the incarnate Logos, as prayer. His very Person reveals itself as prayer to the Father. Ratzinger then plunges to the point: “Since the center of the person of Jesus is prayer, it is essential to participate in his prayer if we are to know and understand him.

“Let us begin here with a very general matter of epistemology. By nature, knowledge depends on a certain similarity between the knower and the known. The old axiom is that like is known by like. In matters of the mind and where persons are concerned, this means that knowledge calls for a certain degree of empathy, by which we enter , so to speak, into the person or intellectual reality concerned, become one with him or it, and thus become able to understand (intellegere = ab intus legere).

“We can illustrate this with a couple of examples. Philosophy can only be acquired if we philosophize, if we carry through the process of philosophical thought; mathematics can only be appropriated if we think mathematically; medicine can only be learned in the practice of healing, never merely by means of books and reflection. Similarly, religion can only be understood through religion… The fundamental act of religion is prayer, which in the Christian religion acquires a very specific character: it is the act of self-surrender by which we enter the Body of Christ. Thus it is an act of love…

“In Thesis 1 we saw that prayer was the central act of the person of Jesus and, indeed, that this person is constituted by the act of prayer, of unbroken communication with the one he calls ‘Father.’ If this is the case, it is only possible really to understand this person by entering into this act of prayer, by participating in it. This is suggested by Jesus’ saying that no one can come to him unless the Father draws him (Jn. 6, 44). Where there is no Father, there is no Son. Where there is no relationship with God, there can be no understanding of him who, in his innermost self, is nothing but relationship with God, the Father… Therefore a participation in the mind of Jesus, i.e., in his prayer, which… is an act of love, of self-giving and self-expropriation to men, is not some kind of pious supplement to reading the Gospels, adding nothing to knowledge of him or even being an obstacle to the rigorous purity of critical knowing. On the contrary, it is the basic precondition if real understanding, in the sense of modern hermeneutics - entering-in to the same time and the same meaning – is to take place.”[93]

1) Peter’s Confession:

That said, R-B applies this to the confession of Simon to become Peter. He offers Luke 9, 18 that says: “As he was praying alone, the disciples were with him.” He explains: “The disciples are drawn into his solitude, his communion with the Father that is reserved to him alone. They are privileged to see him as the one who – as we reflected at the beginning of this book – speaks face-to-face with the Father, person to person. They are privileged to see him in his utterly unique filial being – at the point from which all his words, his deeds, and his powers issue. They are privileged to see what the ‘people’ do not see, and this seeing gives rise to a recognition that goes beyond the ‘opinion’ of the people. This seeing is the wellspring of their faith, their confession; it provides the foundation for the Church.”[94]

R-B is at pains in the book to make clear that the grounding of the knowledge by Simon, son of John, is an ontological experience of self-transcendence such that Christ changed his name into His own: Peter (cornerstone). As Christ is “cornerstone” Simon becomes “rock” and all of us by entering into that same act of self-transcendence become “living stones.” R-P reports that “Scholars speak of two types of confessional formula in relation to early Christianity, the ‘substantive’ and the ‘verbal;’ perhaps it would be clearer to speak of an ‘ontological’ and a ‘salvation history’ type of confession.”[95] Peter’s prayer and presence with Christ through passion, death and resurrection constitutes an ontological “likeness” that becomes the touchstone for “the full, essential Christian faith.” Case in point, “In his passionate apologia in the Letter to the Galatians, Paul very clearly presupposes Peter’s special commission.”[96]

Conclusion: “The first thing to say is that the attempt to arrive at a historical reconstruction of Peter’s original words and then to attribute everything else to posterior developments, and possibly to post-Easter faith, is very much on the wrong track. Where is post-Easter faith supposed to have come from if Jesus laid no foundation for it before Easter? Scholarship overplays its hand with reconstructions…. What scandalized people about Jesus was exactly what we have already seen in connection with Rabbi Neusner’s conversation with the Jesus of the Sermon on the Mount: He seemed to be putting him elf on an equal footing with the living God himself. This was what the strictly monotheistic faith of the Jews was unable to accept. This was the idea to which even Jesus could only slowly and gradually lead people. This was also what permeated his entire message – while preserving unbroken unity with faith in the one God; this was what was new, characteristic, and unique about his message.”[97]

What slowly emerged for the first Christians, and it must emerge for us, not conceptually, but experientially that “Jesus does not fit into any of the existing categories that he is more than, and different from ‘one of the Prophets…. He is the Prophet who, like Moses, speaks face-to-face with God as with a friend.” “At certain key moments, the disciples came to the astonishing realization: This is God himself.”[98]

2) The Transfiguration:
Six days after Peter’s confession that this individual man, Jesus of Nazareth, is “Christ, the Son of the living God” (Mt. 16, 16) Peter is with Christ on the top of the mountain. He is accompanied by James and John. R-B observes that “Luke is the only one of the Evangelists who begins his account by indicating the purpose of Jesus’ ascent: He ‘went up on the mountain to pray’ (Lk. 9, 18). It is in the context of Jesus’ prayer that he now explains the event that the three disciples are to witness: ‘And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered, and his clotrhing became dazzling white (Lk. 9, 29). The Transfiguration is a prayer events; it displays visibly what happens when Jesus talks with his Father: the profound interpenetration of his being with God, which then becomes pure light. In his oneness with the Father, Jesus is himself. ‘light from light.’ The reality that he is in the deepest core of his being, which Peter tried to express in his confession – that reality becomes perceptible to the senses at this moment: Jesus’ being in the light of God, his own being-light as Son”[99]

Once again, the metaphysics of Being as pure relation – the “I” of the Son as Gift – is the underlying ontology of the exegesis of the Transfiguration text. The radiation is emanating from the Trinitarian Being of Christ as He shows Himself as prayer (Trinitarian relation as incarnate).

R-B makes a number of points: 1) the mountain as symbol of inner ascent to pray; 2) In the case of Moses, God’s light streams upon Moses from outside. With Christ, the radiation comes from within him. “He himself is light from light;”[100] 3) through Baptism, we are empowered to pray and be in relation and radiate light from within; 4) in the persons of Moses and Elijah, the Law (Moses) and the Prophets (Elijah) appear and speak of the Cross as the Word’s self-gift that fulfills both. The conversation during the descent from the mountain event discloses that salvation (the second appearance of Elijah who was John the Baptist) is connected to the Passion. This “constitutes a startling novelty”[101] for the expectations of that day.

This affects us also, and is the entire burden of this book, namely, the Being of Christ is relation. The exegesis of Scripture must be done by reading it ever anew within the conversation of Christ with Moses and Elijah: “Scripture had to be read anew with the suffering Christ, and so it must ever be… we constantly have to learn from him, the Risen Lord, to understand Scripture afresh.”[102] For example, the humanity of Christ is the Holy Tabernacle (Sukkoth), on the mountain, which is overshadowed by the cloud (shekinah) which is the presence of the Father who repeats what was revealed at the Baptism: “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased” (Mk. 1, 11). “Listen to him.”

Once again, the metaphysical identities come as explosions of insight, this time coming from H. Gese: “Jesus himself has become the divine Word of revelation. The Gospels could not illustrate it any more clearly or powerfully: Jesus himself is the Torah’ (Zur biblischen Theologie, p. 81).”[103] R-B concludes: “This one command brings the theophany to its conclusion and sums up its deepest meaning.”[104] The deepest meaning is that all words and actions of Christ are his very self revealing. But since He is nothing in himself but relation, they reveal the Father.


Jesus Declares His Identity:


It is important to remember the cause provoking the writing and publication of this book. There has been a global loss of the sense – and therefore, the experience – of the absolute. The only certainties are about the sensibly empirical, and the ultimate frontier of the sensibly empirical is quantum physics that continues to work with Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle about wave and particle. R-B has observed a likeness of epistemological methodology in quantum physics and Christian faith. We have already seen it. On the side of quantum physics, he says, “We know today that in a physical experiment the observer himself enters into the experiment and only by doing so can arrive at a physical experience. This means that there is no such thing as pure objectivity even in physics, that even here the result of the experiment, nature’s answer, depends on the question put to it. In the answer there is always a bit of the question and a bit of the questioner himself.”[105]

In his “Habilitation” thesis, we saw that Revelation was a Person, and that the act of faith was the “re-vel-ation” of the act of imaging God on the part of the subjectivity – person - of the believer. We have seen this in the confession of Peter as entering into the prayer of Christ in order to know Christ who in his very person is nothing but prayer as relation to the Father. In a word, one must experience his subjectivity as self-transcendence – prayer – in order to be able to transfer to Christ the experience of imaging that one discovers and becomes conscious of in oneself. In order to become “objective as “realist,” one must engage one’s subjectivity as mimic in order to approximate becoming one-in-being with the other, and there “to know” (intellegere = ab intus legere: to read from within) as a personalist and ontological adequatio rei et intellectus. Only then, is there “Truth” of person to Person.

That is, as in the sensibly empirical sciences such as quantum physics there is not such thing as pure objectivity, “This too, mutatis mutandis, is true of the question of God. There is no such thing as a mere observer. There is not such thing as pure objectivity. Once can even way that the higher an object stands in human terms, the more it penetrates the center of individuality; and the more it engages the beholder’s individuality, then the smaller the possibility of the mere distancing involved in pure objectivity.”[106]

This book has undertaken to confront the relativism of the exegesis of those who have split the Scriptural Christ – the figure that appears in the empirical texts of the New Testament - into a Jesus of history, and a Jesus of faith. R-B has explicitly confronted Bultmann. Elsewhere, he has confronted John Hick and Paul Knitter on the same grounds: “I would like to mention two evident points in the writings of Hick and Knitter. Both authors, for their attenuated faith in Christ, refer to exegesis. They state that exegesis has proven that Jesus did not consider himself absolute the Son of God, the incarnate God, but that he was made to be such after ward, in a gradual way, by his disciples.”[107]

The core of R-B’s assessment of the cause of this bifurcation of the text into a Christ of history and a Christ of faith (that is merely subjectivist myth) is both a hidden Kantianism and neo-scholastic rationalism. He says:

“My thesis is the following: the fact that many exegetes think like Hick and Knitter and reconstruct the history of Jesus as they do is because they share their same philosophy. It is not the exegesis that proves the philosophy, but the philosophy that generates the exegesis. If I know a priori (to speak like Kant) that Jesus cannot be God and that miracles, mysteries and sacraments are three forms of superstition, then I cannot discover what cannot be a fact in the sacred books. I can only describe why and how such affirmations were arrived at and how they were gradually formed.”[108]

Regarding neo-Scholasticism, R-B comments: “I am of the opinion that neo-Scholastic rationalism failed which, with reason totally independent from the faith, tried to reconstruct the ‘pre-ambula fidei’ with pure rational certainty. The attempts that presume to do the same will have the same result. Yes, Karl Barth was right to reject philosophy was the foundation of the faith independent from the faith. If it were such, our faith would be based from the beginning to the end on the changing philosophical theories.

“But Barth was wrong when, for this same reason, he proposed the faith as a pure paradox that can only exist against reason and totally independent from it.”[109]
With this R-B is proposing the philosophy of being-as-relation that is embedded and active in the very texts of the New Testament and that he made explicit in his “Introduction to Christianity,” and which he has made explicit throughout this book, and will make utterly explicit in the very end of this chapter on “Jesus Declares His Identity.”
Content

R-B distinguishes titles attributed to Christ by others and titles used by Christ himself.
The titles given by others are Christ (Messiah), Kyrios (Lord) and Son of God. The most interesting is the name “Christ” (since the other two are reducible to it) since it quickly ceased to be a title and became the name of Christ, and this because to be of Jesus is to be “for.” As we have seen, R-B remarked in “Introduction:” “The phrase ‘Christ Jesus is an exactly similar case [ Kaiser Wilhelm] and shows just the same development: Christ is a title and yet also already part of the unique name for the man form Nazareth. Tips fusion of the name with the title, title with the name, is far from being just another example of history’s forgetfulness. On the contrary, it spotlights the very heart of that process of understanding that faith went through with regard to the figure of Nazareth. For what faith really states is precisely that with Jesus it is not possible to distinguish office and person; with him this differentiation simply becomes inapplicable. The person is the office; the office is the person… here there is no ‘I’ separate from the work; the ‘I’ is the work, and the work is the ‘I.’”[110] R-B is showing the faith experience of the first Christians was synchronic, not posterior, with Jesus as total gift of self. The work that he did and the word that he spoke was his very self poured out to the Father and to us through his human will.

R-B’s exegesis of the titles “Son of Man,” “Son,” and “I Am” are the most interesting and powerful presentations of the metaphysical and epistemological underpinnings of the entire work.

“Son of Man” Sayings: In Mark, we find: “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath” (Mk. 2, 17 f). In Luke, “I tell you, every one who acknowledges me before men, the Son of man also will acknowledge before the angels of God; but he who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God” (Lk. 12, 8f). In Luke again: “For as the lightening flashes and lights u the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of man be in his day. But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.” (Lk. 17, 24ff). Again: “But that you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins” - he said to the paralytic – “I say to you, rise, take up your pallet and go home.” (Mk. 2, 10-11). At his martyrdom, St. Stephen sees what Christ said to the Sanhedrin: “You will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven” (Mk. 14, 62).

R-B clarifies that “The Christology of the New Testament writers, including the Evangelists, builds not on the title ‘Son of Man,’ but on the titles of ‘Messiah’ (Christ), ‘Kyrios’ (Lord), ‘Son of God.’ The designation ‘Son of Man’ is typical for Jesus’ own sayings; in the preaching of the Apostles, its content is transferred to the other titles, but this particular title is not used. This is actually a clear finding.”[111] The importance of the title is the ontological novelty that it conceals, that God and man are one in this man Jesus of Nazareth. Christ’s use of the title is all powerful indicating divine power, and yet the title refers to “man” and ordinariness. From all that has gone before, it seems a fitting title to introduce to Jewish monotheism the God that is this concrete individual man.

All the critical scholarship rejects the title as genuine (328). “(C)ritical scholarship does not regard any of these [Son of Man sayings] as the genuine words of Jesus.” [112] It maintains that the “Son of Man” sayings are “mere fiction about the judge of the world, invented after the Resurrection. However, “the most ancient tradition” accepted it and understood the God-man identity. Only after the Enlightenment dualism and Kant is the dualism imposed. But from the experience of the milieu and history of his time, Jesus of Nazareth was understood to have claimed to be God. R-B says: “The judges of the Sanhedrin actually understood Jesus properly; he did not correct them by saying something like: ‘But you misunderstand me; the coming Son of Man is someone else.’ The inner unity between Jesus’ lived kenosis (cf. Phil 2, 5-11) and his coming in glory is the constant motif of his words and actions; this is what is authentically new about Jesus, it is no invention – on the contrary, it is the epitome of his figure and his words” (330). R-B insists: “The greatness, the dramatic newness, comes directly from Jesus; within the faith and the life of the community it is further developed, but not created. In fact, the ‘community’ would not even have emerged and survived at all unless some extraordinary reality had preceded it” (324). And why, further, would a man be condemned to death on the Cross “on account of such harmless moralizing” 324) to which the critical exegetes reduce him.



“Son”


The Metaphysic of Relation Glimpsed in “Knowing” the Father.

This title contains within it the metaphysic that transcends all categories of the mind and the received traditional metaphysic of substance and accident. This metaphysic of transcendence is approached through the epistemology of the word “Son” that is clearly formulated in Mt. 11, 25-27: “I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes [to little ones]; yea, Father, for such was thy gracious will. All things have been delivered to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and any one to whom the son wills to reveal him’” (340).

The epistemology reveals the new metaphysic of being that the critical exegetes have been unable to glimpse in the Gospel texts themselves. In the “knows” there is contained a metaphysic of equality of being. We see this in the biblical description of the one-flesh union of man and woman as in Exodus, 4, 1 “Adam knew his wife,” or in the sign/symbol factor of sensible perception or conceptualization of the extramental. We saw above in R-B’s “theological epistemology” that there is a “certain similarity between the knower and the known. The old axiom is that like is known by like. In matters of the mind and where persons are concerned, this means that knowledge calls for a certain degree of empathy, by which we enter , so to speak, into the person or intellectual reality concerned, become one with him or it, and thus become able to understand (intellegere = ab intus legere).” It is worth copying here his re-statement of the point because it is the presentation of the conceptually invisible content that the critical exegetes have missed – that to-be-is-to-be-in-relation - because of the entrenchment of the Kantian dualism. Kant is at loggerheads with the intrinsic intelligibility of the empirical because it is presupposed that there can be no absolute in the contingent. He fails to discover the notion of “experience” and hence cannot identify the experience of the self in the moral act as the locus of universal value and the absolute. That failing, he places the universal and value in the apriori structures of the mind as both speculative and practical. R-B is insisting that one knows Jesus of Nazareth as the Absolute God by experiencing the self as “empathizing” with him by prayer, which is to be what he is in relation to the Father. Jesus’ disclosure of prayer is the revelation of the divinity of his person as relation. If we pray, we experience in ourselves what Jesus experiences in himself as divine Person relating to the Father, and therefore one with the Father.

R-B says: “Every process of coming to know something includes in one form or another a process of assimilation [“like is known by like”], a sort of inner unification of the knower with the known. This process differs according to the respective level of being on which the knowing subject and the known object exist. Truly to know God presupposes communion with him, it presupposes oneness of being with him.”[113] He goes to his point indicating why critical (i.e. Kantian-based) exegesis that does not know the “I” as self-experiencing and therefore ontologically real, will not be able to find the Person of Christ in the sensually experienced Jesus of Nazareth. If I don’t pray and therefore self-transcend, I do not and cannot experience myself as being with intelligible and absolute content. If I cannot find myself as real by experience, I cannot find the real “I” of Christ in the historical perceptible Jesus of Nazareth to whom I transfer my absoluteness and reality by participating in his very action of praying to the Father. Having failed that, my exegesis then must become critical (as in Kant), and I look for the origin and source of the absolute and the supernatural content of the scriptural text in external sources, and called them “myths.”

R-B says: “Only the ‘Son’ knows the Father, and all real knowledge of the Father is a participation in the Son’s filial knowledge of him, a revelation that he grants… Only those to whom the Son ‘wills to reveal him’ know the Father. But to whom does the Son will to reveal him?”[114] Answer: to the little ones. R-B expatiates: “It is not the Scripture experts, whose who are professionally concerned with God, who recognize him; they are too caught up in the intricacies of their detailed knowledge. Their great learning distracts them from simply gazing upon the whole, upon the reality of God as he reveals himself – for people who know so much about the complexity of the issues, it seems that it just cannot be so simple.”[115]

I take this to be R-B’s way of doing what he proposed in the 1968 “Introduction to Christianity:” “In this idea of relatedness in word and love, independent of the concept of substance and not to be classified among the ‘accidents,’ Christian thought discovered the kernel of the concept of person, which describes something other and infinitely more than the mere idea of the ‘individual.’ Let us listen once again to St. Augustine: ‘In God thee are no accidents, only substance and relation.’ Therein lies concealed a revolution in man’s view of the world: the sole dominion of thinking in terms of substance is ended; relation is discovered as an equally valid primordial mode of reality. It becomes possible to surmount what we call today ‘objectifying thought;’ a new place of being comes into view. It is probably true to say that the task imposed on philosophy as a result of these facts is far from being completed – so much does modern thought depend on the possibilities thus disclosed, without which it would be inconceivable.”[116]

This “surmounting” of formalism that we have referred to in the philosophy of Kant also must be applied to neo-Scholasticism. Then-Joseph Ratzinger commented: “I am of the opinion that neo-Scholastic rationalism failed which, with reason totally independent from the faith, tried to reconstruct the ‘pre-ambula fidei’ with pure rational certainty. The attempts that presume to do the same will have the same result. Yes, Karol Barth was right to reject philosophy as the foundation of the faith independent from the faith. If it were such, our faith would be based from the beginning to the end on the changing philosophical theories.

“But Barth was wrong when, for this same reason, he proposed the faith as a pure paradox that can only exist against reason and totally independent from it. It is not the lesser function of the faith to care for reason as such. It does not do violence to it; it is not external to it, rather, it makes it come to itself. We must make efforts toward a new dialogue of this kind between faith and philosophy because both need one another reciprocally. Reason will not be saved without the faith, but the faith without reason will not be human.”[117]

Hence, the text of “Son” has a metaphysic of “being-as-relation” that involves an epistemology of “intellegere” (ab intus legere) that is the entire point of the book and the burden of R-B’s entire theological career. Consider again R-B’s original work on Augustine, John Henry Newman, “The Theology of History in St. Bonaventure and above all the “habilitation” thesis of 1954 where the subject must have the “veil” removed for the Revelation of God that is the Person of Christ to take place. It has always been, “Like known by Like.” Or, perhaps, in a succinct but puzzling epigram: the “what” (intelligible content) of the faith is the “who” of the believer that has become the Who of Revelation. “The Catechism has dealt with both fundamental questions: the question of ‘what’ to believe and of ‘who’ believes, as one question with an interior unity. In other words, the catechism illustrates the act of the faith and the content of faith in their inseparability.”[118]

To conclude, “The term ‘Son’ along with its correlate “Father (Abba),’ gives us a true glimpse into the inner being of Jesus – indeed, into the inner being of God himself. Jesus’ prayer is the true origin of the term ‘the Son’… The attempt has been made to use postbiblical literature… as a source for constructing a pre-Christian, ‘Gnostic’ prehistory of this term, and to argue that John draws upon that tradition. If we respect the possibilities and limits of the historical method at all, this attempt makes no sense. We have to reckon with the originality of Jesus. Only he is ‘the Son.’”[119]



“I Am”


Jesus claims to be one with the Father: “I and the Father are one” (Jn. 10, 30). In chapter 8 of St. John, Jesus makes three affirmations that resonate (εγω ειμι) as the “I Am” (Yahweh) of Exodus 3, 14: “If you do not believe that I am he, you will die in your sins” (8, 24); “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he” (8, 28); “Before Abraham came to be, I am” (5, 58). There is a further “I Am” (Mk. 6, 50) when Christ walks on the water and (not mentioned by R-B) the arrest of Jesus in the garden: “’Whom do you seek?’ And they answered him, ‘Jesus of Nazareth.’ Jesus said to them, ‘I am he’ (Jn. 18, 5). There is also a series of “I am” sayings that have a specific content by the use of some image: “I am the Bread of Life,” “the Light of the World,” “the Door,” “the Good Shepherd,” “the Resurrection and the Life,” “the Way, the Truth, and the Life,” “the True Vine.” The content of all of these sayings is Life who is God. “Jesus gives us ‘life’ because he gives us God (354). He can give God because he himself is one with God, because he is the Son. He himself is the gift – he is ‘life.’ For precisely this reason, his whole being consists in communicating, in ‘pro-existence.’ This is exactly what we see in the Cross…” (354).

R-B is saying that these three terms: “Son of Man,” ‘Son,” “I am he” could not be insertions by the “community” from a later period after the Resurrection because they are “deeply rooted… in Israel’s Bible, the Old Testament. And yet all these terms receive their full meaning only in him; it is as if they had been waiting for him…” (354. The nascent Church took all three terms and understood them with the new consciousness that came from the experience of the prayerful self-gift whereby Simon son of John became Peter and was able to say: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Mt. 16, 17). It was this experience of self-transcendence - that is Christian faith - that pitted the new reality of Father and Son – one in Being – with the subordination-ism of Arius, and which emerged in Nicea in the fourth century with the Hellenic neologism homoousios. The tension of the Father and the Son being one in Being, and therefore equal (not subordinate), and yet irreducibly different (“The Father is greater than I” [Jn. 14, 28]) explodes all categories of thought, Hellenic, Enlightenment and neo-Scholastic. It is to this Enlightenment that R-B is leading us.



Rev. Robert A. Connor


[1] See John Paul II’s Novo Millennio Ineunte #1, 16, 19-20.
[2] “No one knows the Son except the father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son and him to whom the Son chooses to reveal him” (Mt. 11, 27).
[3] See J. Ratzinger’s “Principles of Catholic Theology,” Ignatius (1987) 349-355.
[4] Ratzinger-Benedict XVI (henceforth B-R), “Jesus of Nazareth” Doubleday (2007) 348-349.
[5] Ibid xii.
[6] Ibid xxi.
[7] John Paul II “Novo Millennio Ineunte” #20: “`Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven’ (Mt. 16, 17). The expression ‘flesh and book’ is a reference to man and the common way of understanding things. In the case of Jesus, this common way is not enough. A grace of ‘revelation’ is needed, which comes from the Father (cf. ibid.). Luke gives us an indication which points in the same direction when he notes that this dialogue with the disciples took place when Jesus ‘was praying alone’ (Lk. 9, 18). Both indications converge to make it clear that we cannot come to the fullness of contemplation of the Lord’s face by our own efforts alone, but by allowing grace to take us by the hand. Only the experience of silence and prayer offers the proper setting for the growth and development of a true, faithful and consistent knowledge of that mystery which finds its culminating expression in the solemn proclamation by the Evangelist Saint John: ‘And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have behold his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father’ (1, 14).”
[8] J. Ratzinger, “The Theology of History in St. Bonaventure,” Franciscan Herald Press (1989) xi.
[9] J. Ratzinger, “Milestones,” (1998), 108-109.
[10] “`I and the Father are one’… The issue at stake… is precisely the oneness of Father and Son. In order to understand this correctly, we need above all to recall our reflections on the term ‘the Son’ and its rootedness in the Father-Son dialogue. There we saw that Jesus is wholly ‘relational,’ that his whole being is nothing other than relation to the Father. This relationality is the key to understanding the use Jesus makes of the formulae of the burning bush and Isaiah. The ‘I am’ is situated completely in the relatedness between Father and Son;” “Jesus of Nazareth,” op. cit 348-349.
[11] The entire notion of substance (to-be-in-self) is rejected by R-B in doing the metaphysics of person in God and man. Observe the following: “I believe that if one follows this struggle in which human reality had to be brought in, as it were, and affirmed for Jesus, one sees what tremendous effort and intellectual transformation lay behind the working out of this concept of person, which was quite foreign in its inner disposition to the Greek and the Latin mind. It is not conceived in substantialist, but… in existential terms… Remaining on the level of the Greek mind, Boethius defined ‘person’ as naturae rationalis individual substantia, as the individual substance of a rational nature. One sees that the concept of person stands entirely on the level of substance. This cannot clarify anything about the Trinity or about Christology; it is an affirmation that remains on the level of the Greek mind which thinks in substantialist terms;” J. Ratzinger, “Concerning the Notion of Person in Theology,” Communio 17 (Fall, 1990) 448.

[12] Josef Ratzinger, “Introduction to Christianity,” Ignatius (2004) 184.
[13] Ratzinger made a formal presentation of this idea in the following: Not only is there nothing in the intellect except through the senses (Nihil in intellectu nisi in sensu), but also there is nothing in the senses that is not first in the intellect (Nihil in sensu nisi per intellectum): “The senses experience nothing if no question has been raised, if there is no preceding command from the intellect without which sensory experience cannot take place. [Experience always involves the “I”]. Experimentation is possible only if natural science has elaborated an intellectual presupposition in terms of which it controls nature and on the basis of which it can bring about new experiences. In other words, it is only when the intellect sheds light on sensory experience that this sensory experience has any value as knowledge and that experiences thus become possible;” Principles of Catholic Theology, Ignatius (1987) 348.
[14] J. Ratzinger, “What Does the Church Believe? The Catholic World Report, March 1993, 59.
[15]This consciousness we understand to be Christian mysticism. R-B alludes to exactly this point when he says: “This [The Lord’s Prayer] also reveals something of the specificity of Christian mysticism. It is not in the first instance immersion in the depths of oneself, but encounter with the Spirit of God in the word that goes ahead of us. It is encounter with the Son and the Holy Spirit and thus a becoming-one with the living God who is always both in us and above us.”[15] It is here that R-B distinguishes Christian and Eastern Mysticisms. In Eastern mysticism, the distinction between the self and God is lost. In the Judeo-Christian “monotheistic revolution,” the distinction between self and God is maintained where they are in relation. The belief in God as other than the self is always a relation and the cause of the experience of self-transcendence, and therefore this non-conceptual consciousness that is the “dark night of the soul” J. Ratzinger, “Truth and Tolerance,” Ignatius (2004) Mysticism and Belief, 32-39.


[16] L’Osservatore Romano, N. 22 - 30 May 2007, 8-9.
[17] John Henry Newman, “A Grammar of Assent” UNDP (1979) 320.
[18] Benedict XVI, “Not Only the Continent of Hope, but Also the Continent of Love!” Aparecida, Brazil, May 13, 2007 (Zenit).
[19] Ratzinger-Benedict XVI “Jesus of Nazareth” xxi.
[20] I would like to recall R-B’s “Habilitation” thesis where Revelation is a Person-Gift, and the believer must also be person-gift. The interpersonal communication is the metaphysics that make “the words of the Bible … [be] always in the present.” See below p. 8.
[21] Ibid. xx-xxi.
[22] Ibid.
[23] Ibid xxii.
[24] J. Ratzinger, “Conscience and Truth,” The Pope John Center, Proceedings of the Tenth Bishops’ Workshop, Dallas, Texas (1991) 20.
[25] Ibid. 21.
[26] J. Ratzinger, “Milestones – Memoirs 1927-1977,” Ignatius (1998) 108-109.
[27] Ratzinger-Benedict, “Jesus of Nazareth,” Doubleday (2007)
[28] Ibid 343.
[29] Ibid
[30] Cardinal Christoph Schönborn “Fostering a ‘Living Relationship’ with the Lord,” L’Osservatore Romano N. 22 – 30 May 2007, 9.
[31] Ratzinger-Benedict, “Jesus of Nazareth” op. cit 105.
[32] Ibid. 113.
[33] J. Ratzinger, “Israel, The Church, and the World,” in Many Religions – One Covenant” Ignatius (1999) 27-28.
[34] Rudolf Bultmann, “The Gospel of John” as quoted by Ratzinger-Benedict op. cit 220.
[35] Ratzinger-Benedict, op. cit. 220.
[36] Schönborn, op. cit. 8.
[37] Ibid. 44
[38] Ibid.
[39] Schönborn, op. cit. 9.
[40] Ratzinger-Benedict, op. cit xxii-xxiii.
[41] Romano Guardini, “The Lord,” Regnery (1954) 306.
[42] Christoph Schönborn, “God’s Human Face,” Ignatius (1994) 26.
[43] Ratzinger-Benedict, op. cit 5.
[44] R-B, op. cit. 348-349.
[45] Josef Ratzinger, “Introduction to Christianity,” Ignatius (1990) 132.
[46] J. Ratzinger, “Concerning the Notion of Person in Theology,” Communio 17 (Fall, 1990) 448.
[47] J. Ratzinger, “The New Covenant,” in Many Religions – One Covenant Ignatius (1999) 76-77.
[48] Ibid.
[49] Schönborn “Fostering a ‘living relationship’ with the Lord,” op. cit , 9.
[50] John Henry Newman, “A Grammar of Assent,” UNDP (1992) 90-91.
[51] J. Ratzinger, “The Nature of Priesthood” to the Synod of Bishops, October 1, 1990, L’Osservatore Romano, October 29, 1990.
[52] J. Ratzinger, “Introduction to Christianity,” op. cit 132.
[53] J. Ratzinger, “Introduction to Christianity,” op. cit 149.
[54] Ibid.
[55] See J. Ratzinger, “Journey Towards Easter” Crossroad (1987) 88-90; 135-139; “Behold the Pierced One” Ignatius (1986) Thesis 6. 37-42; 90-94.
[56] John 10, 30.
[57] “Jesus of Nazareth” op. cit 20.
[58] The topic of divine suffering comes up here. Because the relationality of self-gift of Christ is so complete, he takes our sin as his own and suffers, pace Thomas Weinandy and others, in his divinity. Ratzinger in another context remarked: “In the patristic period it was Origen who most profoundly grasped the theme of the suffering God, and who also most straightforwardly declared that this theme cannot be reduced to the suffering humanity of Jesus, but that it colors the Christian conception of God himself…. God is a sufferer only because he is first a lover; the theme of the suffering God follows from tre theme of the loving God and continually points to it;” The Paschal Mystery as Core and foundation of Devotion to the Sacred Heart in “Towards a Civilization of Love” Ignatius (1985) 154.
[59] Cf. J. Ratzinger “The Spiritual Basis and Ecclesial Identity of Theology,” The Nature and Mission of Theology Ignatius (1995) 51.
[60] Ratzinger-Benedict, op. cit. 29.
[61] “Jesus of Nazareth” op. cit 118.
[62] Ibid. 119.
[63] Ibid. 74
[64] Ibid.
[65] In “Behold the Pierced One,” Ratzinger offered three lukan texts: 6, 12; 9, 18; and 9, 28. He summarizes Luke’s view thus: “we see who Jesus is if we see him at prayer” (19).
[66] J. Ratzinger, “Introduction to Christianity,” op. cit 149.
[67] Ratzinger-Benedict XVI op. cit 181-182.
[68] Ratzinger-Benedict op. cit 219-220.
[69] Ibid 220.
[70] “…there is an inner ontological tendency [anamnesis - memory] within man, who is crated in the likeness of God, toward the divine… The anamnesis instilled in our being needs, one might say, assistance from without so that it can become aware of itself. But this ‘from without’ is not something set in opposition to anamnesis but ordered to it. It has maieutic function, imposes nothing foreign, but brings to fruition what is proper to anamnesis, namely its interior openness to the truth;” J. Ratzinger, Conscience and Truth, Proceedings of the Tenth Bishops’ Workshop, Dallas, Texas, The Pope John Center (1991) 20-21.
[71] “At the end of the book, in a retrospective review of the attack of 13 May 1981 and on the basis of the experience of his journey with God and with the world, John Paul II further deepened this answer. What limits the force of evil, the power, in brief, which overcomes it - this is how he says it - is God's suffering, the suffering of the Son of God on the Cross: "The suffering of the Crucified God is not just one form of suffering alongside others.... In sacrificing himself for us all, Christ gave a new meaning to suffering, opening up a new dimension, a new order: the order of love.... The passion of Christ on the Cross gave a radically new meaning to suffering, transforming it from within.... It is this suffering which burns and consumes evil with the flame of love.... All human suffering, all pain, all infirmity contains within itself a promise of salvation;... evil is present in the world partly so as to awaken our love, our self-gift in generous and disinterested service to those visited by suffering.... Christ has redeemed the world: ‘By his wounds we are healed’ (Is 53: 5)" (p. 189, ff.). All this is not merely learned theology, but the expression of a faith lived and matured through suffering;” Benedict XVI, Address to the Roman Curia, December 22, 2005. At the end of the book, in a retrospective review of the attack of 13 May 1981 and on the basis of the experience of his journey with God and with the world, John Paul II further deepened this answer.
What limits the force of evil, the power, in brief, which overcomes it - this is how he says it - is God's suffering, the suffering of the Son of God on the Cross: "The suffering of the Crucified God is not just one form of suffering alongside others.... In sacrificing himself for us all, Christ gave a new meaning to suffering, opening up a new dimension, a new order: the order of love.... The passion of Christ on the Cross gave a radically new meaning to suffering, transforming it from within.... It is this suffering which burns and consumes evil with the flame of love.... All human suffering, all pain, all infirmity contains within itself a promise of salvation;... evil is present in the world partly so as to awaken our love, our self-gift in generous and disinterested service to those visited by suffering.... Christ has redeemed the world: "By his wounds we are healed' (Is 53: 5)" (p. 189, ff.).
All this is not merely learned theology, but the expression of a faith lived and matured through suffering.
[72] J. Ratzinger, “The Nature of Priesthood,” L’Osservatore Romano, October 29, 1990.
[73] Ibid
[74] J. Ratzinger, “The Ministry and Life of Priests,” Reprint from August-September 1997 of HPR.
[75] Ibid
[76] Papal Address at University of Regensburg: “Three Stages in the Program of De-Hellenization,” September 12, 2006.
[77] Ratzinger-Benedict, op. cit 188.
[78] J. Ratzinger, “Dogma and Preaching,” Franciscan Herald Press (1985) 72.
[79] Michael Waldstein, “The Foundations of Bultmann’s Work,” Communio 2 (Summer, 1987) 115-145.
[80] Rudolf Bultmann, “New Testament and Mythology: The Problem of Demythologizing the New Testament Proclamation” (1941), in New Testament and Mythology and other Basic Writings, Fortress Press (1984) 2-4.
[81] Martin Hengel, “The Johannine Question,” Trinity Press International – Philadelphia (1996).
[82] Ratzinger-Benedict op. cit 220-221.
[83] Ratzinger-Benedict op. cit 259-260.
[84] “One thinks at once of a related miracle [to the excess of the remaining loaves and fish] preserved in the Johannine tradition: the changing of water into wine at the marriage-feast at Cana (Jn. 2, 1-22). It is true that the word ‘excess’ does not occur here, but the fact certainly does: according to the evidence of the gospel the new-made wine amounted to between 130 and 190 gallons, a somewhat unusual quantity for a private banquet! In the evangelists’ view both stories have to do with the central element in Christian worship, the Eucharist. They show it as the divine excess of abundance, which infinitely surpasses all needs and legitimate demands;” “Introduction to Christianity,” op. cit 261.
[85] “Jesus of Nazareth” op. cit 268-269.
[86] Ibid 271-272.
[87] “We had also already considered the fact that the concepts ‘word’ and ‘son’ are intended to convey the dynamic character of this existence, its pure actualitas. Word never stands on its own; it comes from someone, is there to be heard, and is therefore meant for others. It can only subsist in this totality of ‘from’ and ‘for.’ We had discovered the same meaning in the concept ‘son,’ which signifies a similar tension between ‘from’ and ‘for.’ We could accordingly summarize the whole in the formula, ‘Christian faith is not centered on ideas but on a person, an ‘I,’ and on One that is defined as ‘word’ and ‘son,’ that is, as ‘total openness;’” Introduction to Christianity, op. cit. 210.
[88] J. Ratzinger, “Introduction to Christianity,” op. cit 261-262
[89] “Jesus of Nazareth” op. cit 279.
[90] Ibid 283.
[91] Ibid 286.
[92] J. Ratzinger, “Principles of Catholic Theology” Ignatius (1987) 349-355.
[93] J. Ratzinger, “Behold the Pierced One,” Ignatius (1986) 25-26.
[94] “Jesus of Nazareth” op. cit 290-291.
[95] Ibid 298.
[96] Ibid 297
[97] Ibid 303-304
[98] Ibid
[99] Ibid. 309-310.
[100] Ibid. 310.
[101] Ibid 312-313.
[102] Ibid. 313.
[103] Ibid 316
[104] Ibid 316.
[105] J. Ratzinger, “Introduction to Christianity,” op. cit 175.
[106] Ibid 175
[107] J. Ratzinger, “Relativism: The Central Problem for Faith Today,” Tasks of Theology,” Bishops’ Conferences of Latin America, Guadalajara, Mexico, May 1996.
[108] Ibid
[109] Ibid
[110] J. Ratzinger, “Introduction to Christianity,” Ignatius (2004) 203.
[111] R-P op. cit 322.
[112] R-B, op. cit 238.
[113] R-B op. cit 340.
[114] Ibid 341.
[115] Ibid 344.
[116] J. Ratzinger, “Introduction to Christianity,” op. cit 184.
[117] J. Ratzinger, “Relativism: The Central Problem for Faith Today,” Address during the meeting of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith with the presidents of the Doctrinal Commissions of the Bishops’ Conferences of Latin America, held in Guadalajara, Mexico, May 1996.
[118] J. Ratzinger, “What Does the Church Believe? The Catholic World Report, March 1993.
[119] P-B op. cit 345.

2 comments:

Tom Murtha said...

Thank you Father. This post has been a great help to me in understanding the book.

Richard said...

You are some kind of a nut, my friend. Your insistence on interpreting all of this non-historic nonsense is a bit more than disgusting, and certainly a cry for medical attention