Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Where Your Treasure Is

Giotto, Massacre of the Innocents (detail), Scrovegni Chapel
We are alone with our need, documented in many questions that have emerged in these months. Now, if this is our situation, what enables us to stand? In other words, what is the essential thing we need to live as human beings, according to all the depth of our need? What is the essential for us? There is no other way to capture what is the essential for us than discovering in experience whence we expect to find the answer to the need of living. It would be easy, even obvious or taken for granted–because of the education we have received–to answer immediately that for us the essential is Christ, the presence of Christ.
But we cannot get off so easily. A mechanical answer will not suffice. In fact, observing ourselves in action, we often must yield to the evidence that for us the essential is elsewhere.
The criterion for discovering it comes from the Gospel. “Where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.” Here you see the distance between the intention that Christ be the essential of life, and the discovery that often in experience this is not the case. Here the difference between intention and experience emerges. Thus, we can discover that even in good faith, the essential has become something else, and is no longer Christ; we have shifted to something else, maybe even in the name of that essential that continues nonetheless to be quoted in our discourses.  Spiritual Exercises of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, Fr. Julián Carrón
I am discovering more and more each day that it is not enough for me to be happy. It's not enough to seek my own fulfillment. If the others who have been put in my path are left alone with their need, then the answer I thought I had was not sufficient. Christ is not something for me, alone, to treasure in privacy. If I think that this is how he is, then what I'm holding in this deluded embrace is an idol and not Christ. Jesus told us that he is the True Vine: he, then, is a plural, a vast multiplicity of persons, whose flesh seems to form boundaries between one and another but whose true Flesh is Christ, the one who makes us one Body. Christ allures us by appearing with the face of Beauty, but Beauty isn't his only form: he also calls to us from the eyes of those who hurt us, from within the heart of ugliness, too.  The very life of Christ, the blood in his veins that he gives us to drink is called Mercy.

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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."