Monday, February 2, 2009

Clarifying points concerning the encounter with Christ

Not this:

Purple broccoli

Someone very dear to me said something interesting this weekend: Christ is not some purple broccoli floating in the air that we can point to and say, "Oh, I see it, look how amazing! How beautiful!" When Christ walked on earth, he actually did sh*t. If we talk about how beautiful our school or nature or a piece of music is, that's not describing the encounter with Christ.

  1. The encounter needs to have a face in order to be an encounter with Christ.
  2. Something needs to happen for it to be an encounter -- something that is impossible to explain in human terms.

The Samaritan woman encounters Christ at the well, from the Catacombs at Via Latina in Rome


the booklady said...

Perhaps you have friends in very high places because Pope Benedict said something very similar in Deus Caritas Est, 'Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.' (DCE 2)

Christ comes to each of us as a result of someone who first loved us--a parent, grandparent, sibling, relative or friend. Without that first gift, we'd never know how to love in return. And until we share the love we're given, we aren't truly Christian. I don't know if that's what you meant at all . . . just my 2¢ worth.

Fred said...

I wonder how this post connects with the previous one: that is, that reality is always to be in relationship with the infinite. There is beauty sometimes (inscape, Hopkins called it) in which the I is confronted with reality in a profoundly personal way so much so that the educated person cries out "you! you did this!" ?

I can see that the human encounter takes precedence and makes the other encounter possible for me to experience. I also realize that the encounter with the Church through human faces changes every meeting, even those everyday ambiguous ones. Just as going to confession makes it possible to announce the forgiveness of Christ to those around us at work.

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."