A Penitent Blogger

Mindful of my imperfections, seeking to know Truth more deeply and to live Love more fully.

Quid sum miser tunc dicturus? Quem patronum rogaturus? Cum vix iustus sit securus?
Recordare, Iesu pie, Quod sum causa tuae viae: Ne me perdas illa die...

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

“The old that is strong does not wither”

The sentiment expressed by these words of J.R.R. Tolkien are not always universally embraced.

Even while Christ walked on this earth, there were some who thought that he would establish such a radically different relationship between God and humanity that all of what had come before would be irrelevant.

In today’s Gospel (Matthew 5:17-19), our Lord sets them straight.

Do not think that I have come
to abolish the law or the prophets.

I have come not to abolish
but to fulfill.

Amen, I say to you,
until heaven and earth pass away,
not the smallest letter
or the smallest part of a letter
will pass from the law,
until all things have taken place.

Therefore, whoever breaks
one of the least of these commandments
and teaches others to do so
will be called least in the Kingdom of heaven.

But whoever obeys
and teaches these commandments
will be called greatest in the Kingdom of heaven.

There is a tendency in every generation for some to think that their qualities and situation are so unique and radically new that they can discount the wisdom of the past. Usually they discover their mistake only too late (and are frustrated when they fail in convincing the following generation to avoid this same mistake).

Some in the Church, even priests and theologians, also sometimes make this mistake: giving primacy to their own environment and their personal creative resources over that which has been received from of old.

In a Notification published this morning, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith reminds us about the relationship between the fonts of “newness” and that which has been received.

"Theology arises from obedience to the impulse of truth which seeks to be communicated, and from the love that desires to know ever better the One who loves – God himself - whose goodness we have recognized in the act of faith. For this reason, theological reflection cannot have a foundation other than the faith of the Church. Only starting from ecclesial faith, in communion with the Magisterium, can the theologian acquire a deeper understanding of the Word of God contained in Scripture and transmitted by the living Tradition of the Church.

"Thus the truth revealed by God himself in Jesus Christ, and transmitted by the Church, constitutes the ultimate normative principle of theology. Nothing else may surpass it. In its constant reference to this perennial spring, theology is a font of authentic newness and light for people of good will.

"Theological investigation will bear ever more abundant fruit for the good of the whole People of God and all humanity, the more it draws from the living stream which – thanks to the action of the Holy Spirit – proceeds from the Apostles and has been enriched by the faithful reflection of past generations."

The challenges of our lives here and now may give us great incentive to (as Lincoln put it) “think anew and act anew” but if we cut ourselves off from Christ our source, we will actually be intellectually and spiritually disemboweling ourselves and will lose everything.

Thus Moses says in today’s first reading (Deuteronomy 4:1, 5-9):

However, take care
and be earnestly on your guard
not to forget the things
which your own eyes have seen,
nor let them slip from your memory
as long as you live,
but teach them to your children
and to your children’s children.