Monday, October 14, 2013

A Dialogue Concerning the Good

'L' is our learner.  'C' is our catechist.  I'm still seeking the best "names" for these characters.

L: Since God has created all things 'good' and 'very good' (Gen. 1), why does our Lord Christ command us to "renounce all things" (Lk. 14:33) to become His disciple?

C: Ah, a difficult teaching of our Lord, yes?  First, answer me this: who shall inherit the earth?

L: The meek (Mt. 5:5).

C: And who are the meek?

L: Well, the word means the 'humble.'  But, forgive me, I don't know what this has to do with my question.

C: Patience, patience.  To be meek, surely, is to be humble.  But to be humble, in this case, is to be like Christ, as all the beatitudes speak of Him, the Blessed One (Mt. 21:9).  What do we know about the humility of Christ?

L: The Apostle Paul speaks of it in Philippians 2:5-8 -- "Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-- even death on a cross!"

C: And did He inherit the earth?

L: Certainly!  The Apostle continues to speak of His exaltation, which is an echo of our Lord's own words, "All authority in heaven and on earth have been given to me" (Matt. 28:18).

C: What is our relationship to His humility?

L: We are to make ourselves humble, as His command states.  So, are you suggesting that by being meek, we are to renounce all good things that we might have access, through our Lord Christ, to the Greatest Good, the Father?

C: You are exactly right.  There is, undoubtedly, a hierarchy of the 'goods' that comprise this world.  Some goods we seek after in certain contexts, some are external, some are internal, etc.  All are good, since they are created as such by God.  However, that means that they retain their goodness only in the proper creational context, which has been distorted by the entrance of sin and death in the world.  'Goods' are still good, but only when they are redeemed through the death of Christ; otherwise they can quickly become 'goods' that lead us away from the Good One.  Here is the paradox at the heart of our faith: if we choose these lesser goods as ultimate or satisfactory, we lose all goods.  Instead, we must forsake all earthly goods for the Eternal Good, through which we inherit all good things.  In uniting to His humility, His death -- which we must die every day -- He unites us to His exaltation, His powerfully proclaimed sonship, and His inheritance.

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