Sunday, April 26, 2009

Novena for Fr. Jaki - Sixth Day

May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace. Amen.
But to return to Jesus' supreme novelty which the apostles thought they grasped after they listened to Jesus' discourses following the Last Supper. They rejoiced in their superficial grasp of that novelty. Otherwise they would not have been pained by Jesus' telling them that they would be expelled from the synagogue and be hated by the world. They were puzzled by his statement that he would leave them for a while but then he would return. To their comfort Jesus said that as long as he was with them he could speak in parables, because his presence served as a support in their uncertainties. But now that he told them that he would leave them grief seized their hearts and they did not feel like asking him further questions. Jesus then told them he would go to his Father, whom the world hated just as the world hated him, and precisely because the world chose sin rather than truth.

On hearing that he would go to the Father and that he would send them an advocate, the apostles felt that they knew all they needed to know: "Now you are talking plainly, and not in any figure of speech. Now we realize that you know everything and that you do not need to have anyone question you. Because of this we believe that you came from God." They were quickly enlightened by Jesus about the difference between theoretical knowledge and one tested in fire: "Do you believe now?" The former kind of knowledge could not stand trial: "Behold, the hour is coming and has arrived when each of you will be scattered to his own home and you will leave me alone." This happened within less than a few hours.

However, Jesus did not come to prove himself a failure. This could not happen for the reason he put concisely in the same breath: "I am not alone, because the Father is with me." His purpose in saying this was to give confidence to the apostles that their assurance in him would not falter: "I have told you this so that you might have peace in me." The peace was its most novel kind, unseen beforehand by the world and in a world which would give them the very opposite to peace: "In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world" (Jn 16:32-33). No promise could be more novel in a world where conquests devour one another and war reigns in spite of bold promises, such as the one that specified the end of the First World War as a war that had just put an end to all wars.

Jesus' conquest of the world was to become manifest through the coming of the Holy Spirit who alone would transform the apostles' conceptual knowledge of Jesus into one with elemental force and assure thereby perennial vigor to Jesus' novelty. This the Holy Spirit did and still does in accordance with the etymology of its Greek name, Paraclete, which is usually rendered as Advocate but may also, and perhaps not irreverently, be given as Cheerleader. If Jesus keeps having disciples who do not tire in spite of all expectations to the contrary, it is because only a divine Cheerleader cannot grow tired in a perennially novel work. It is to inspire the cheerfulness displayed in the lives of an unending succession of saints who keep replaying the novelty which is Jesus.
[Jaki, The Perennial Novelty of Jesus]

I feel compelled to add a footnote tying this to Chesterton:
Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, "Do it again"; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, "Do it again" to the sun; and every evening, "Do it again" to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.
[GKC Orthodoxy CW1:263-4, emphasis added]


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