Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Gospel reading for today is Luke 8:1-15. The last line of this passage of Scripture, “But as for that in the good soil, these are the ones who, when they hear the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patient endurance [my emphasis],” seemed to connect with something Jurgen Moltmann says in Theology of Hope.

“All of this must inevitably mean that the man who thus hopes will never be able to reconcile himself with the laws and constraints of this earth, neither will the inevitability of death nor with the evil that constantly bears further evil. The raising of Christ is not merely a consolation to him in a life that is full of distress and doomed to die, but it is also God’s contradiction of suffering and death, of humiliation and offence, and of the wickedness of evil. Hope finds in Christ not only a consolation in suffering, but also the protest of the divine promise against suffering. If Paul calls death the ‘last enemy’ (1 Cor. 15.26), then the opposite is also true: that the risen Christ, and with him the resurrection hope, must be declared to be the enemy of death and of a world that puts up with death. Faith takes up this contradiction and thus becomes itself a contradiction to the world of death. That is why faith, wherever it develops into hope, causes not rest but unrest, not patience but impatience. It does not calm the unquiet heart, but is itself this unquiet heart in man. Those who hope in Christ can no longer put up with reality as it is, but begin to suffer under it, to contradict it” [my emphasis].

Bearing fruit with patient endurance seems to have something to do with a life we call faithfulness, a life lived in contradiction to a world marked by violence. To be faithful to Christ, to bear fruit (see John 15:1-10), is about not being satisfied with the world as is, nor with those of the world who have a good idea about where we should go and what we should do. To have faith/be faithful is necessarily contradictory, thus necessarily of suffering, because those who contradict a world marked by violence appear to have been overcome by it. The martyr’s cry in Revelation “how long?” But, the Christian hope is about one who rose from the dead, whose life appeared to have been overcome by violence, where for a time it looked like violence won. One who overcame in the end by exhausting violence in His body, by letting it do its worst, and then putting it out like tiny match flame.

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