Saturday, August 29, 2009

Excerpts from John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor, ' 28-34; 84-94

Here are some excerpts from the first reading and a few of my reflections:
28. ... the essential elements of revelation in the Old and New Testament with regard to moral action. These are: the subordination of man and his activity to God, the One who "alone is good"; the relationship between the moral good of human acts and eternal life; Christian discipleship, which opens up before man the perspective of perfect love; and finally the gift of the Holy Spirit, source and means of the moral life of the "new creation" (cf. 2 Cor 5:17).
Our subordination is in return for God's gift, our gift of self for the gift of being, of love, of life . . .

Questions that need to be asked and answered:
What is man? What is the meaning and purpose of our life? What is good and what is sin? What origin and purpose do sufferings have? What is the way to attaining true happiness? What are death, judgment and retribution after death? Lastly, what is that final, unutterable mystery which embraces our lives and from which we take our origin and towards which we tend?[50] These and other questions, such as: what is freedom and what is its relationship to the truth contained in God's law? What is the role of conscience in man's moral development? How do we determine, in accordance with the truth about the good, the specific rights and duties of the human person?
Yes, these are questions I am constantly asking and why I am excited about exploring the answers from Benedict & Balthasar.
Summed up in the fundamental question which the young man in the Gospel put to Jesus: "Teacher, what good must I do to have eternal life?"
Eternal life -- here and now and after death...
Once the idea of a universal truth about the good, knowable by human reason, is lost, inevitably the notion of conscience also changes... Such an outlook is quite congenial to an individualist ethic, wherein each individual is faced with his own truth, different from the truth of others. Taken to its extreme consequences, this individualism leads to a denial of the very idea of human nature.
Yes, following one's conscience can easily become a path to narcissism.
The question of morality, to which Christ provides the answer, cannot prescind from the issue of freedom. Indeed, it considers that issue central, for there can be no morality without freedom: "It is only in freedom that man can turn to what is good".[56] But what sort of freedom?... "Genuine freedom is an outstanding manifestation of the divine image in man. For God willed to leave man 'in the power of his own counsel' (cf. Sir 15:14), so that he would seek his Creator of his own accord and would freely arrive at full and blessed perfection by cleaving to God".[57] ... "Conscience has rights because it has duties".[59]
Yes, we do need freedom to make choices and only with choice is there morality.
"Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect" (Rom 12:2).
I do not really know my Paul -- this is a lovely line.
In a particular way, it is in the Crucified Christ that the Church finds the answer to the question troubling so many people today: how can obedience to universal and unchanging moral norms respect the uniqueness and individuality of the person, and not represent a threat to his freedom and dignity? ... The Crucified Christ reveals the authentic meaning of freedom, he lives it fully, in the total gift of himself and calls his disciples to share in his freedom.
Yes, this is the challenge for today -- holding both together. A gift of self, what else can we, must we give.
... Charity should make you a servant, just as truth has made you free... you are at once both a servant and free: a servant, because you have become such; free, because you are loved by God your Creator; indeed, you have also been enabled to love your Creator...
Surrender and freedom -- those are the poles I strive to hold on to and embody.

Rather, faith is a lived knowledge of Christ, a living remembrance of his commandments, and a truth to be lived out. A word, in any event, is not truly received until it passes into action, until it is put into practice. Faith is a decision involving one's whole existence. It is an encounter, a dialogue, a communion of love and of life between the believer and Jesus Christ, the Way, and the Truth, and the Life (cf. Jn 14:6). It entails an act of trusting abandonment to Christ, which enables us to live as he lived (cf. Gal 2:20), in profound love of God and of our brothers and sisters.

Yes -- communion, encounter, trusting abandonment -- words to put into action.

In this witness to the absoluteness of the moral good Christians are not alone: they are supported by the moral sense present in peoples and by the great religious and sapiential traditions of East and West, from which the interior and mysterious workings of God's Spirit are not absent. The words of the Latin poet Juvenal apply to all: "Consider it the greatest of crimes to prefer survival to honour and, out of love of physical life, to lose the very reason for living".[147]

Definitely not alone and so essential to keep in mind the very reason for living - our gift of self to others and God.

1 comment:

GSK+ said...

the fundamental question which the young man in the Gospel put to Jesus: "Teacher, what good must I do to have eternal life?"
My old teacher & friend, the Pauline scholar Lloyd Gaston once preached what for me was a life-changing sermon on this text.
I paraphrase --
"What must I do to have eternal life?"
"You know the Law."
"Love God & love Neighbour?"
"But who IS my Neighbour?"
Jesus then told the story of the Goof Samaritan, ending with "So -- who is the man's Neighbour?"
"That Samaritan, the one who helped him."
"Right [so, we must love OUR Neighbour, the one/s who help us] -- and [then, only after then] do likewise [ie, go on to be a Neighbour."
Ethical narcissism boils down to the fact that we find it easoer on our egos to be Neighbours to others than to love thoase who are Neighbour to us.