Friday, October 3, 2008

The parable of God's vineyard

Gospel Commentary for 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time, By Father Raniero Cantalamessa, OFM Cap:
[...] Human beings do not plant vineyards and dedicate themselves to its care for the love of the vines but for their own benefit. God is different. He creates man and enters into a covenant with him, not for his own benefit, but for man’s benefit, out of pure love. The fruits that are expected from man are love of God and justice toward the oppressed: all things that are for the good of man, not God.

This parable of Jesus is terribly relevant to our Europe, and in general to the Christian world. In this context, too, we must say that Jesus has been “cast out of the vineyard,” thrown out of a culture that proclaims itself post-Christian, or even anti-Christian. The words of the vineyard tenants resound, if not in the words at least in the deeds, of our secularized society: “Let us kill the heir and the inheritance will be ours!”

No one wants to hear anymore about Europe’s Christian roots, of the Christian patrimony. Secularized humanity wants to be the heir, the master. Sartre put this terrible declaration into the mouth of one of his characters: “There is nothing in heaven, neither good nor evil, there is no one who can give me orders. [...] I am a man, and every man must invent his own path.”

What I have just sketched is a “broadband” application of the parable. But Jesus' parables almost always have a more “narrow band” application, an application to the individual: they apply to each individual person, not just to humanity or Christendom in general. We are invited to ask ourselves: What fate have I prepared for Christ in my life? How am I responding to God’s incomprehensible love for me? [...]

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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."