Sunday, September 29, 2013

Sanctity Trumps Morality

But let's go a step further. Why would the Catholic "conservatives" be scandalized by the pope's insisting that first things be put first. Again, the apposite quote of Dr. Mirus: 

"We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage, and the use of contraceptive methods…. The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently. Proclamation in a missionary style focuses on the essentials, on the necessary things."

Blogger: But what is the essential and necessary? God. And this was the burden of Joseph Ratzinger's "The New Evangelization" in 2000 to the Catechists in Rome.

"Human life cannot be realized by itself. Our life is an open question, an incomplete project, still to be brought to fruition and realized. Each man´s fundamental question is: How will this be realized -- becoming man? How does one learn the art of living? Which is the path toward happiness?

   The contents essential for new evangelization
 "To evangelize means: to show this path -- to teach the art of living. At the beginning of his public life Jesus says: I have come to evangelize the poor (Luke 4:18); this means: I have the response to your fundamental question; I will show you the path of life, the path toward happiness -- rather: I am that path."

 And he explains it in the same terms as Francis: "God is encountered walking, along the path" [Interview]. And walking along the path of Abraham = leaving the comfort of his digs in Ur (Bagdad) = to walking out of himself. To escape from being "self-referential." And what is that path except the Person of Christ Who is the Revelation of the Father, and this because Jesus is constitutively out of Himself as "Son" of the Father. He is totally "from" and "for" the Father. Therefore, the first things of Judeo-Christianity is to be out of self for the Father and for the others. Hence, Ratzinger wrote in his "New Evangelization:"

1. Conversion
As for the contents of new evangelization, first of all we must keep in mind the inseparability of the Old and the New Testaments. The fundamental content of the Old Testament is summarized in the message by John the Baptist: metanoeìte -- Convert! There is no access to Jesus without the Baptist; there is no possibility of reaching Jesus without answering the call of the precursor, rather: Jesus took up the message of John in the synthesis of his own preaching: metanoeìte kaì pisteúete èn tù eùaggelíu (Mark 1:15).
The Greek word for converting means: to rethink -- to question one´s own and common way of living; to allow God to enter into the criteria of one´s life; to not merely judge according to the current opinions. Thereby, to convert means: not to live as all the others live, not do what all do, not feel justified in dubious, ambiguous, evil actions just because others do the same; begin to see one´s life through the eyes of God; thereby looking for the good, even if uncomfortable; not aiming at the judgment of the majority, of men, but on the justice of God -- in other words: to look for a new style of life, a new life.
"All of this does not imply moralism; reducing Christianity to morality." 

All of this does not imply moralism; reducing Christianity to morality loses sight of the essence of Christ´s message: the gift of a new friendship, the gift of communion with Jesus and thereby with God. Whoever converts to Christ does not mean to create his own moral autarchy for himself, does not intend to build his own goodness through his own strengths.
"Conversion" (metanoia) means exactly the opposite: to come out of self-sufficiency to discover and accept our indigence -- the indigence of others and of the Other, his forgiveness, his friendship. Unconverted life is self-justification (I am not worse than the others); conversion is humility in entrusting oneself to the love of the Other, a love that becomes the measure and the criteria of my own life.
Here we must also bear in mind the social aspect of conversion. Certainly, conversion is above all a very personal act, it is personalization. I separate myself from the formula "to live as all others" (I do not feel justified anymore by the fact that everyone does what I do) and I find my own person in front of God, my own personal responsibility.
But true personalization is always also a new and more profound socialization. The "I" opens itself once again to the "you," in all its depths, and thus a new "We" is born. If the lifestyle spread throughout the world implies the danger of de-personalization, of not living one´s own life but the life of all the others, in conversion a new "We," of the common path of God, must be achieved.
In proclaiming conversion we must also offer a community of life, a common space for the new style of life. We cannot evangelize with words alone; the Gospel creates life, creates communities of progress; a merely individual conversion has no consistency....
2. The Kingdom of God
In the appeal to conversion the proclamation of the Living God is implicit -- as its fundamental condition. Theocentrism is fundamental in the message of Jesus and must also be at the heart of new evangelization.
The keyword of the proclamation of Jesus is: the Kingdom of God. But the Kingdom of God is not a thing, a social or political structure, a utopia. The Kingdom of God is God. Kingdom of God means: God exists. God is alive. God is present and acts in the world, in our -- in my life.
God is not a faraway "ultimate cause," God is not the "great architect" of deism, who created the machine of the world and is no longer part of it -- on the contrary: God is the most present and decisive reality in each and every act of my life, in each and every moment of history.
"The True Problem of Our Times:" God

In his conference when leaving the University of Münster, the theologian J.B. Metz said some unexpected things for him. In the past, Metz taught us anthropocentrism -- the true occurrence of Christianity was the anthropological turning point, the secularization, the discovery of the secularity of the world. Then he taught us political theology -- the political characteristic of faith; then the "dangerous memory"; and finally narrative theology.
After this long and difficult path, today he tells us: The true problem of our times is the "Crisis of God," the absence of God, disguised by an empty religiosity. Theology must go back to being truly theo-logy, speaking about and with God.
Metz is right: the "unum necessarium" to man is God. Everything changes, whether God exists or not. Unfortunately -- we Christians also often live as if God did not exist ("si Deus non daretur"). We live according to the slogan: God does not exist, and if he exists, he does not belong."

    If the above is the case, then the complaint of the "conservatives" against Pope Francis can only mean that they are de facto living a religion of "morality" which was highlighted by Christ in the parable of the good Samaritan who, unworthy as he was as a non-Jew, transcended the legalism of the Temple and the morality of the Jewish law, and went in aid of the Jew wounded on the side of the road. Christ taught that true religion and the summation of the entire law, is the response to the question: who is my neighbor?  

No comments: