Journeys derive their meaning from arrival at their destination; retrospectively, they appear worthwhile. On the road it is different, especially if there is some uncertainty about reaching the goal. The hope which impels us forward is a hope that cannot yet see its own object (Rom 8:24)– we are traveling blind. We must expect that the length and hardship of the journey will sometimes seem impossible to bear. We will be tempted to be disheartened, to allow ourselves to lose the sharp focus of our discipleship and drift into distracting diversions. Inevitably, given the complex demands discipleship places upon us, there will be failures, misjudgments, and periods of stagnation. In the context of the whole journey and from the standpoint of eternity these are trifling, whatever their magnitude. Locked in time and space, we cannot see this and so we are tempted to lose our nerve and give up our search for God. ”This saying is [too] hard; who can hear it?” (Jn 6:60). It is easy to rationalize such apostasy; but there is danger that something in our own spirits dies when we settle for second best. Those who remain become plodders, perhaps. They no longer trust in their own virtuosity, but let go to allow God brilliantly to bring to perfection the work begun, but in a manner that transcends human assessment or intelligence.
(Casey, Fully Human Fully Divine, 168)
Anyone who travels learns quickly that plans are made to be broken. We are precipitated into a world of contingencies, where the unexpected happens more often than not. Each situation is modified by the people we meet there– people from a world we do not know, who summon us to leave behind the world we carry with us and dare to experience something new. Somehow the fixed ideas we had on departure are stretched, expectations are modified, and our previous self-definition and discipline seem no longer fully relevant. To interact creatively with what is around us we have to become more aware of the new situation we are in, read it more closely, and humbly ask for guidance from those who know it better than we do.
Jesus does not enclose his teaching in the hard carapace of systematic thought, but sends it forth vulnerable in images and stories, told in plain everyday language. He makes moral demands that are severe to the point of extremity, and therefore easily interpreted out of existence, if we are so inclined. His doctrine was not propounded in a single ordered discourse, but offered in bits and pieces in different places and with different people in mind. This fluidity is what makes the Gospels so untidy; they each combine into a single sequential narrative all sorts of preexisting units that sometimes seem at variance with one another. On the positive side, this plurality is why the Gospel message as a whole is so readily adaptable to different cultures, and we applaud it for this. But such a spirituality challenges us constantly to keep reintroducing the Gospel into the situation where we are and reading it afresh with a willingness to change anything in our lives that is dissonant with Jesus’ teaching as it resounds at this time and in this place. We need to keep freshening up our contact with the words of Jesus, lest our discipleship become stale and meaningless, a mere formality safely confined to its own corner. As Saint John Cassian says, each day and at every moment we need to keep opening up the soil of our heart with the plow of the Gospel.
(Casey, Fully Human Fully Divine, 164-165)
Recently a seminary read fell of a bookshelf. As I picked it up, I was reminded of how deep and thought provoking the author was. The Christological debate on the humanity and divinity of Jesus can never be fully articulated. Ultimately it is a position of faith. Jesus was either who he said he was, or as CS Lewis states, either a liar or a lunatic.
Fully Human Fully Divine, An interactive Christology is a series of chapters dealing with the theological issues and aspects within the tension of the perfectus Deus, perfectus homo.
Traditional evangelicals tend to pull the divine card too quickly. ”Well He is God and can do whatever He wants, whenever He want, and however He wants.” True, but what about the kenosis. What did he leave behind when He left Heaven to walk with us? It is easy to fall into the heresy of Docetism. For me personally, Jesus has to walk in more humanity than the docetists expound. Jesus has to be human. He has to emote. He has to rely on Father. He has to deal with earthly life in order for me to understand that I can be successful as a true disciple.
The author of FHFD is Michael Casey, a Cistercian monk from the Tarrawarra Abbey in Victoria, Australia. The book follows the gospel of Mark, maybe that is why I like it so much, as it unravels the mysteries of the God/man. It comes highly recommended.
Here is a paragraph from chapter 14 on “An Open Heart”:
If we live our daily lives with all the windows open, it becomes possible for the Spirit’s gentle breeze to penetrate our resistance and bring us relief from the tightness we impose on ourselves. We consent to live on the brink of the unexpected, alert for any indication of where inspiration may prompt us to go. This means, of course, laying aside the blueprints we have drawn up for the rest of our lives, and learning to live in the carefree insecurity that characterizes the birds of the air and the lilies of the field. We become people ready for a mission– without ever knowing what it is that we will be asked to do. We give up the self satisfied passivity of routines and ironclad guarantees and revel in the freedom of God’s children. This is not to say that we are butterflies, flitting from one perch to another without obligations or commitments. It means simply that whatever we do, wherever we are, we keep an ear cocked for the call of God and a heart open enough to be somewhat detached from our private perceptions, prejudices, and plans.