Spring 2007. The Kingdom of God
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The Spring, 2007 issue of Communio continues our annual reflection on the mysteries of the life of Jesus with four articles devoted to Jesus’ proclamation of the kingdom of God. While each mystery of the rosary is “a revelation of the kingdom now present in the very person of Jesus” (Rosarium Virginis Mariae, 21), at the center of the new Luminous Mysteries is a meditation on Jesus’ announcement of the kingdom of God whereby he “calls to conversion (cf. Mk 1:15) and forgives the sins of all who draw near to him in humble trust (cf. Mk 2:3–13; Lk 7:47–48).” In proclaiming the kingdom, Jesus inaugurates “that ministry of mercy which he continues to exercise until the end of the world.”
In “The Word Springs From the Flesh: The Mystery of the Preaching of the Kingdom,” José Granados asks the question, What is it that gives the words of Jesus their power? Drawing on recent work in the philosophy of language, Granados establishes an intimate link between word and body: words are "more than a mere outward cloak for a concept"; they are rooted in the corporeality and affectivity of the person. Reading the words of Jesus against the background of the prophets of Israel, Granados argues that "the word of Jesus is born from his emotions, and these are conceived in union with the same divine pathos that is affected by the sin of the people and resolved to save them from their alienation. . . . The eschatological character of his mission does not consist in an atemporal idea disconnected from the common time of men: it develops first of all in the actual body of Jesus, hence showing that it refers to the shared human history in the flesh."
In "Yahweh, the Trinity: The Old Testament Catechumenate (Part 1)," Giorgio Buccellati argues that "God did not begin to interact with our world, qua Trinity, only at Pentecost." Buccellati seeks to avoid "a simplistic view of trinitarian revelation as a mechanical break" vis-à-vis monotheism, as though the experience of God in the Old Testament had no relation to the reality of God's triune nature. But at the same time, he avoids constructing a bridge between the two testaments simply on the extrinsic hints of that nature in scripture. By interpreting the Old Testament more generally as an advent, and by tracing the "perceptual impact" of Jesus from the Annunciation to Pentecost, Buccellati explains how the Old and New Testaments prepare us to perceive the trinitarian God in Jesus by showing, among other things, that God is simultaneously infinite and particular: even though he utterly transcends the finite, God is not for all that vague or indefinite, but a particular (personal) absolute. To perceive this in Jesus is to see him as the presence of the kingdom of God in history.
In “Alexander Schmemann on the Divine Liturgy as an Epiphany of the Kingdom: A Liturgical Apriori,” a study of the liturgical theology of the late Orthodox theologian, Robert Slesinski opens up the ecclesiological dimension of the kingdom of God. In this essay he defines the Church as “nothing but the presence and experience of the kingdom of God in the world.” If this is the meaning of the Church, the Liturgy is in fact the experience of the eschaton already in this world.
In "The Kingdom of God and the Church," Michael Figura shows how the Church and the kingdom are deeply united within the mystery of Christ: “the earthly or pilgrim Church is the kingdom of heaven, which Christ has already established on earth. She is the kingdom of Christ already present in mystery (cf. LG, 3) . . . . There exists no unbridgeable chasm between the Church and the kingdom of God, but a unity-in-distinction. For the pilgrim Church is the kingdom of God, whose seed has germinated in the Church and will continue to grow until the time of harvest.”
The present issue of Communio contains articles on a variety of additional themes. In "The Eclipse of the Sense of God and of Man," Livio Melina reflects on the crisis provoked by biotechnology. He argues that this crisis cannot be addressed by "scientific rationality" because this conventional view of reason cannot provide ultimate norms. Drawing on Hans Jonas, Robert Spaemann, Pascal, and Pope Benedict XVI, he shows that what is needed above all is an adequate sense of reason, and this requires the recovery of reason’s religious roots.
Communio also announces a new feature, entitled Why We Need . . ., which is projected to run once or twice a year. As Adrian J. Walker explains in "'Clouds of Witnesses': Introducing Why We Need . . .," the purpose of this feature is to recall to our attention -- or perhaps in some cases alert us for the first time -- to half-forgotten philosophers, theologians, and men of letters who have an important contribution to make to our understanding and experience of the world in the twenty-first century. Our first installment of this feature presents Paul Claudel (1869-1955). In this piece, D. C. Schindler reflects on the life and mission of the French Catholic poet, who provocatively insisted that poetry is possible, in the end, only within a world that has been created by God, and indeed by a God who becomes incarnate in that world and so redeems it in its very worldliness.
Notes and Comments closes the issue with two essays on culture.
In "Culture Is Never Neutral," James V. Schall argues that we need to understand “the relation of culture to those transcendent principles and purposes that should be present in all particular cultures, without, at the same time, totally rejecting the validity of any given particularity in which universal principles must appear.”
With characteristic humor, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput traces the consequences of denying God in our public life in "Religion and the Common Good." In response to the nihilism and boredom of unsatisfied appetites, he argues for a recovery of the notion of the common good as that which “best serves human happiness in the light of what is real and true. That’s the heart of the matter: What is real and true? If God exists, then the more man flees from God, the less true and real man becomes."
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