Sunday, May 26, 2013

Jesus Christ at the Centre of History


"Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed."

Consider a few passages by John Paul II and one by Guardini:

Passage 1 -- by Blessed John Paul II From ECCLESIA DE EUCHARISTIA §20. "A significant consequence of the eschatological tension inherent in the Eucharist is also the fact that it spurs us on our journey through history and plants a seed of living hope in our daily commitment to the work before us."

Passage 2 - by Blessed John Paul II, MANE NOBISCUM DOMINE §6 "Jesus Christ stands at the centre not just of the history of the Church, but also the history of humanity. In him, all things are drawn together. How could we forget the enthusiasm with which the Second Vatican Council, quoting Pope Paul VI, proclaimed that Christ is “the goal of human history, the focal point of the desires of history and civilization, the centre of mankind, the joy of all hearts, and the fulfilment of all aspirations”?(Gaudium et spes 45) The Council's teaching gave added depth to our understanding of the nature of the Church, and gave believers a clearer insight not only into the mysteries of faith but also into earthly realities, seen in the light of Christ. In the Incarnate Word, both the mystery of God and the mystery of man are revealed.(GS 24) In him, humanity finds redemption and fulfilment."

Passage 3 - by Romano Guardini, from The rosary of Our Lady

"When the Lord lifted himself from the earth, there began the wait 'until He comes.' Ever since Christ's Ascension, on earth there has been a single confident expectation; and faith means to persevere in expectation. For him who has no faith, events take place as though their meaning lay in themselves. The ordinary and the exceptional, the high and the low, the frightful and the beautiful -- everything that makes history -- all are regarded as if each was by itself and there was nothing besides. In truth, the Lord's departure was like the striking of a mighty chord that is now suspended in the air waiting to float away and come to rest. But only with Christ's return will all things be fulfilled."

What Guardini's passage helps me to better understand is the oft asserted remark by John Paul II that Christ is at the center of history. This could be taken to mean that Christ enters history as a point on a time line -- there is life before Christ and life after Christ. Events prior provide signs and point to his coming; and events after refer back to his life and take their rise from the new possibilities he established through his teaching, death and resurrection. Or in addition, Christ is at the center of history insofar as every field of meaning, and therefore any action can be related to the life of Christ. These are no doubt true. But Guardini locates the "center of history" through "expectation." We stand between his coming many years ago in the town of Bethlehem and his coming again at the end of time. So the center of history is to be found, not by looking on a time grid, nor by finding an abstract point of reference, but concretely, existentially, simply by looking up, once and a while, to ponder Christ's Ascension into Heaven. And then perhaps looking down on the ground at cemeteries of old wherein many lie sleeping, waiting to wake at the sound of the trumpet. We can then hear the mighty chord "now suspended in the air." Then the high and low, the ordinary and the exceptional, the frightful and the beautiful, all vibrate in attunement to that mighty chord of dying and rising, and truth triumphs at last. And we can just quietly hum an alleluia or two. Or better yet exclaim with the apostle -- "to me, to live is Jesus, and to die is gain."

No comments: