CACINA

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in Christianity, ethics, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on March 30, 2009

Gospel reading of the day:

John 8:1-11

Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. But early in the morning he arrived again in the temple area, and all the people started coming to him, and he sat down and taught them. Then the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery and made her stand in the middle. They said to him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in the law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” They said this to test him, so that they could have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and began to write on the ground with his finger. But when they continued asking him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”

Again he bent down and wrote on the ground. And in response, they went away one by one, beginning with the elders. So he was left alone with the woman before him. Then Jesus straightened up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She replied, “No one, sir.” Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on do not sin any more.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: Even many of the most conservative scholars accept the evidence that this passage in John’s gospel was not written by the evangelist John’s hand. It seems to have been a short story floating around in the ancient world, one with the ring of great authenticity, that editors decided to fix inside one of the four gospels. Though editors chose to insert the passage into John’s gospel at the start of what is now chapter 8, there are many scholars who believe it might have been a better insert for Luke’s gospel. Luke’s writing betrays his preoccupation with Jesus’ compassion, and this story certainly points to Jesus’ tenderness.

I think the story touches us for many reasons. We all are aware that human sexuality is a place of particular vulnerability in the human psyche. Any of us can reflect on her or his sexual behavior at different points in our lives and wonder, “Where did that come from?” This narrative demonstrates Jesus’ understanding and compassion for this area of weakness, and there is a hint, in his advice to the scribes and pharisees, that Jesus recognized it was a universal weakness. The narrative indicates that Jesus believed there were ideals for this arena of our behavior, and we should strive to live up to them, but it also suggests that Jesus recognized that rigid legalism around sexual mores, including punitive attitudes, is an inadequate response to such profound human weakness. I think it is fair to say that only those among us who are without failure in this area of our lives ought to be quick to condemn those whose failure unfortunately becomes public. Hypocrisy, not adultery, seems to be the sin that preoccupied Jesus when the woman caught in adultery was presented to him.

Saint of the day: Born March 5, 1904 in Freiburg, Germany, Karl Rahner, S.J. was one of the most influential Roman Catholic theologians of the 20th century. His theology influenced the Second Vatican Council and is ground-breaking for a modern understanding of Catholic faith. Written near the end of his life, Rahner’s Foundations of Christian Faith (Grundkurs des Glaubens), is the most developed and systematic of his work, most of which was published in the form of theological essays. Rahner wrote over 4,000 articles and books.

The basis for Rahner’s theology is that all human beings have a latent (“unthematic”) experience of God in any experiences of meaning or “transcendental experience.” It is only because of this proto-revelation that recognizing a specifically special revelation (such as the Christian gospel) is possible.

The philosophical sources for Rahner’s theology include Thomas Aquinas, read from the aspect of contemporary continental philosophy. Rahner attended lectures by Heidegger in Freiburg. He died of natural causes in Innsbruck, Austria on March 30, 1984.

Spiritual reading: Only in love can I find You, my God. In love the gates of my soul spring open, allowing me to breath a new air of freedom and forget my own petty self. In love my whole being streams forth out of the rigid confines of narrowness and anxious self-assertion, which make me a prisoner of my own poverty and emptiness.

In love all the powers of my soul flow out toward You, wanting never more to return, but to lose themselves completely in You, since by Your love You are the inmost center of my heart, closer to me than I am to myself. (Encounters with Silence by Karl Rahner)