Saturday, October 18, 2014

On t he Feast of St. Luke - October 18, 2004

1)      Scripture is the locus and occasion of divine revelation. It is not revelation in itself, just as a book in my pocket cannot be referred to as “revelation.” As book, it is not the experience of a divine Person.[1] Rather, Revelation takes place in the moment that the “I” of the believer becomes the “I” of the Jesus Christ, and the believer – now “another Christ” – experiences the divine Person of Christ ab intus, from within himself. The only person you know experientially is yourself, since only you exercise your freedom in determining and mastering yourself. Therefore, only you can experience yourself as the unique you.
2)      Luke transcribes this occasion: “And it came to pass as he was praying in private, that his disciples also were with him, and he asked them, saying, ‘Who do the crowds say that I am?’” (Lk. 9, 18). Joseph Ratzinger wrote: “According to Luke, we see who Jesus is if we see him at prayer. The Christian confession of faith comes from participating in the prayer of Jesus, from being drawn into his prayer and being privileged to behold it; it interprets the experience of Jesus prayer, and its interpretation of Jesus is correct because it springs from a sharing in what is most personal and intimate to him.”[2]

It is on this written testimony of Luke that was taken from Peter, St. Paul, as were the infancy stories take from the Virgin, that we come to the unique way we are to know the Incarnate Son of the living God: Prayer. If we pray – as self-gift – the physiognomy of our personhood changes from “in-self” to “out of self.” And here it is important to take advantage of the distinction that the Protestant theologian, Paul Tillich, makes: the distinction of knowing Christ as overcoming the estrangement from a friend who always has been known and loved, and being introduced to a stranger. Robert Barron writes: “According to the first method, one finds God as the ground and source of one’s own existence, as that which is absolutely intimate to the subject, though at the same time other. In the second way, one encounters God as a stranger, as that to which one has no essential link, as that which stands over and against the subject as an alien.”[3]

        That is to say, one “knows” Christ only by becoming Christ, just as “Rock” can only known by becoming “Peter” (Rock). Or as the Aparecida Conference said it in 2007 and written by Bergoglio: Only God knows God. And this is not strange since Our Lord remarks in Mt. 11, 27: “No one knows the Don except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and him to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”
   Luke’s careful testimony  has given us the “theological epistemology” as Ratzinger calls it.[4]

[1] “You can have Scripture without having revelation. For revelation always and only becomes a reality where there is faith. The non believer remains under the veil of which Paul speaks in the third chapter of his Second Letter to the Corinthians. He can read Scripture and know what is in it, can even understand at a purely intellectual level, what is meant and how what is said hangs together – and yet he has not shared in the revelation. Rather, revelation has only arrived where, in addition to the material assertions witnessing to it, its inner reality has itself become effective after the manner of faith. Consequently, the person who receives it also is a part of the revelation to a certain degree, for without him it does not exist. You cannot put revelation in your pocket like a book you carry around with you. It is a living reality that requires a living person as the locus of its presence;” J. Ratzinger, “God’s Word, Scripture, Tradition, Office,” (2008) 52.
[2] J. Ratzinger, “Behold the Pierced One,” Ignatius (1986) 19.
[3] R. Barron, “A Study of the De Potentia of Thomas Aquinas in Light of the Dogmatik of Paul Tillich: Creation and Discipleship,” Mellen Research University Press, San Francisco (1993) 4-5.
[4] J. Ratzinger, “Behold the Pierced One” op. cit. 26.

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