Sunday, December 23, 2007

A Mystery of Hope, Forgiveness and Resurrection

Found, with the help of Clairty, on the Vatican website, here.


"AND YOU WHO DO YOU SAY THAT I AM?"

A MYSTERY OF HOPE, FORGIVENESS AND RESURRECTION

Luigi Giussani

The meaning of life and its truth, that for which one is born, for which one has flesh constituting a body, for which one has thoughts which spring forth, for which one busies oneself with this or with that, for which one passes from day to night, from night to day, and the months and the years build up; the meaning of all this does not coincide with that which we are able to imagine or decide by ourselves: it is mysterious. No one knows, no prophet: «not even the Son but the Father only» says the holy Gospel.

The meaning of our life is mysterious; it is in the "hands of God" as our elders say. In the hands of God, just as we ourselves succeed in saying every once in a while, but with less strength and truth. But this being in the hands of God more than anything means saying that whatever we undergo or whatever we pass through in our daily lives, whatever happens, all is for the better, for a good. One cannot separate the idea of mystery of God from the word "good".

Everything is in the hands of God, and therefore everything is for the best. What better advice can a father give to his children when he undertakes to look at their destiny? That all is for the best. Now this good is affirmed as the total meaning of time and therefore of every action with which man inclines to his destiny.

There is a name which identifies this well: as nature and origin, as possibility in time and how, final solution, of drama - existential and historical - of man. It is the name of the good in its original and therefore ultimate essence; whose name indicates a human person that places himself in the history of all men and in the life of the individual; this name appears in a precise moment of time as the substance itself of the good, the source of every good which says in what the good consists definitively: the good which already touches time. «Then they arrived, in a predetermined moment, a moment in time and of time,/a moment not outside of time, but in time, in that which we call history: sectioning, bisecting the world of time.../a moment in time but the time was created by means of that moment: since without meaning there is no time, and that moment of time gave meaning» (T.S. Eliot, chorus from The Fortress). That name in human history is Jesus of Nazareth.

Christ is a man who reveals identified in himself the act of communicating, the making himself known from the man of the mystery from which all things originate, of which all things are made and to which they are destined. The mystery which makes all things is identified with Jesus Christ. And since it is the name of one among us, whoever recognizes Him and follows Him as John and Andrew did (cf. Jn 1,35) can all of a sudden gaze among us differently, the gaze which we fix on things, the sentiment of time which passes through our hands and the weight of the fruit of our labors. How rarified in our daily discourse is this "you" which is more profoundly true of the "you" than you give to your son, to your wife and to your husband, of the "you" with which we address each other among ourselves. That the meaning (or the truth) of the world and of life be totally upset, completely exceed, completely overflow our ways of thinking, measuring, needing, claiming, coinciding with the mystery of happiness and of the good which carries a name because it is made flesh, it has become one among us and has remained among us!

But now saying "you" to this presence should become the most pressing daily necessity, the impetus of a relationship which runs through every relationship, making them diverse; whoever I am, however I am, saint or sinner, never neglecting that which defines our sinful existence is sovereignly, profoundly, globally, forgetfulness, that at twenty, thirty, forty years old, cannot be that of a child, which is almost tenderness. Our forgetfulness is an evil root, it is a lie, it is the root of a lie. And in fact it is the Father of lies - Satan - who promotes it.

This is the battle which qualifies life in the world, which marks the value of time: the battle between the children of darkness, between those who choose to be children of forgetfulness generated by the Father of lies and thus ruthlessly tied to forgetfulness, and the children of the light, who cry to Him Who, present in our weakness and obscurity as voyagers in the world, is as if absent.

You Lord, Who are yet as one absent, become present in my life! As we rise every morning, we say first with our hearts this "you" to him who is accompanying us to destiny Who is He Himself, by which He made us and which constitutes the same flesh, the same bones of our nature, of the nature of our person. One day past by the grace of God in the consciousness of His presence in relationship of Him is a victorious day even if it was full of suffering.

Now this mysterious meaning, this mysterious wisdom which No one can imagine and which we also continuously forget is Jesus Christ, is the Man. Christ, a man born of a woman. The mystery of God which has made the whole world could not come close to us more realistically than like this. The mystery of this wisdom which governs the world, for which the world was made, is Christ, born of the Madonna. That which renders our day wise, the mysterious meaning which gives support and nourishment to our days, which gives meaning to our daily living, is Jesus Christ.

My activity is not defined solely by factors which constitute it from within, by means of which I can analyze it and discover the reasons; every activity is defined ultimately by a factor which supersedes it. If this is Christ, His figure is the foundation for the relationship between action and his destiny as forgiveness. Forgiveness is a factor which comes exteriorly to action; without it the action would vanish in an evil nothingness, we wouldn't be able to remember it, it would not be the advent of anything, it would not establish a history, it would not construct anything.

It is precisely this factor which comes from the outside, the touch of the mystery in our lives, and man understands it when it is revealed; and it reveals itself entering into the life of the individual and thus into society and history as forgiveness. If we were to reflect well we would understand that we may not take again relationship with wife or with husband, with friend, if not fallen in front of the memory of an evil undergone in humiliating forgetfulness - sign and symbol of the nothingness into which everything collapses-. Our relationship could not endure without falling into forgetfulness, if we were not to let ourselves be taken by a factor bigger than us which becomes forgiveness in living the relationship. And this is so impressive as regards our existence: without forgiveness we could not exist, we could not continue living. I cannot consider my activity unless within the terms of that forgiveness which comes from without me, i.e. from the mystery which makes all things and invests me and embraces me and gives me courage and renders me capable of continuing until the next time. The presence of this factor, forgiveness, which has a name - Jesus - , the more it multiplies itself throughout the day as a memory, the more its memory becomes familiar, so much more will we understand the value of our actions, both in their primary mysterious aspect which launches us towards happiness; and in their secondary aspect which is a delusion because of one's incapacity, suffering and approximation, and at the same time a thrust full of gratitude for the final positiveness of the forgiveness of that which I do become invested, rendering therefore the experience of completeness possible.

It is that which happens to a child who has committed an error and in whose eyes reigns not he who broke something, but the mother who looks at him, smiling, the father who embraces him. To place before our eyes our ego as a worried remembrance of an evil subject is an unjust affirmation of something which is superseded, purified, redeemed. It is more just to look at you, O Christ, Who forgives me, than at myself who have erred. The definition of our person and of our acts is not complete if it does not take into account the incumbent love by which it is embraced in every instance and which is called forgiveness as a phenomenon, but which is called Jesus, Son of the Father as an expression of the nature of the mystery of being towards us. «Tam Pater nemo», (To such a degree, Father, No one), as the ancients said.

Therefore the presence in our consciousness of this "you" which we have stressed is important for understanding that which we do, for reintegrating into health that which is evil in us, for investing with gratuity that which we have of good in us, for opening wide the hope for the future, and therefore rendering the present day, the present drama, history, factor of a good history. Christ, incumbent as meaning of your time in each instant that you live.

«He's a ghost» the apostles said when they saw him on the lake during the storm. Christ is not a ghost, He is constitutive presence of the value of action, in as much as is true that he makes continuity in time possible in a new generation, in forgiveness. Christ incumbent in the ephemeral instant making it history, opening it, preventing things from finishing in nothingness. That which prevents this end, that which make s the instant history, that for which we are made, and which corresponds to the nature of our hearts is Christ, the Word made flesh, who accompanies us each day even unto the end of the world.

This man-God - Jesus of Nazareth, dead and risen and present in the Church, his mysterious body - defines the instant as the beginning of a history from which the eternal face of the human person and humankind is generated. The eternal embraces and drags with itself every comma of our present lives.

There is a gesture in which this presence of Christ which forgives, which constitutes the excelling of the instant so that it does not reduce to the past, there is a gesture in which this presence embraces in forgiveness that re-launches the present as the beginning of a history without end: the sacrament of the Eucharist. The mystery of forgiveness and of the Resurrection embraces my activity, purifying it; it makes my activity, no matter how small it is, merit, that is it makes the ephemeral of our lives proportionate to the eternal. The Eucharist as a daily act is the efficacious sign of the mystery of the Resurrection which makes the otherwise incomplete human reasonably acceptable; it is the efficacious sign of the eternal which emerges in the contingent, in the ephemeral of my life; it is the largest sign of that which makes my life a history of truth and of love.

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Dumbstruck by the Mystery

...our temptation is always to impose our prejudices or our measure on reality -- except when we are faced with a fact that leaves us dumbstruck, and instead of dominating the fact ourselves, we are dominated, overcome by it. If there were no moments of this kind, the Mystery could do anything, but in the end, we would reduce everything to the usual explanation. But not even a Nobel Prize winner can stop himself from being dumbstruck before an absolutely gratuitous gesture. If there were not these moments, we would find answers, explanations, and interpretations to avoid being struck by anything. It is good that some things happen that we cannot dominate, then we have to take them seriously, and this is the great question of philosophy. If the conditions for the possibility of knowledge (see Kant) impose themselves on reality or if there is something that is so powerfully disproportionate that it does not let itself be "grasped" by the conditions of possibility, then the horizon opens. If this were not the case, then we could dominate everything and be in peace, or at least without drama. Instead, not even the intelligence of a Nobel Prize winner could prevent him from coming face-to-face with a fact that made him dumbstruck -- instead of dominating, it was he who was dominated. Here begins the drama, because I am called to answer. It is the drama that unfolds between us and the Mystery, through certain facts, certain moments, in which the Mystery imposes itself with this evidence. These are facts that we cannot put in our pocket, which we cannot reduce to antecedent factors.
-- Julian Carron in "Friends, that is, Witnesses."