“What is reasonable is not what corresponds to reason’s self-determined a priori conditions of knowledge; it is rather what aids reason in the fulfilment of its telos, i.e., to contemplate the origin without which human existence becomes il-logical.”
Aquinas stated that “the ultimate happiness of every intellectual substance is to know God,” to see him for all eternity.1 I would like to consider here the statement that the event of Christ is reasonable because it allows man to contemplate the face of the Father. My argument, however, does not propose to advance a new apologetics, which might still be liable to the modern dualistic temptation to seek and account for divine love outside love itself. The point is instead to give an account of Christ as an event posited by absolute love. It is the event of Christ in all its dimensions that sheds light on the eventful nature of being—both the being of man, and all finite being. To focus on an examination of the “eventfulness” of Christ will enable us to show how Christ’s allowing man “to see” points to the fact that man—and all of the cosmos given to him (Gn 1:28–31, 2:18–24)—has been created in order to contemplate, i.e., enjoy and worship, the one God who, in the event of Jesus Christ, has revealed himself as a triune communion of love. Reason, therefore, is created reason” and is exercised within a human logic. This logic is always already on its way toward seeing the Origin because, as we will see in the first section, man can only make sense of his being if he understands it as gift. The second section of the paper attempts to complement the anthropological exploration with an ontological exploration: in what sense is finite being, as gift, also endowed with an eventful structure? This is not an attempt to make “event” into an all-encompassing category, but rather a demonstration of the richness and depth of created being in its constitutive symbolic nature. Finite being is seen in terms of form or image because its roots are located in being itself, which expresses itself as “other” in the finite being that it has posited. The mission of the Son, as we will see in the third section, offers to the eyes of faith the ultimate ground of man’s and being’s eventfulness and hence the ultimate form of event: the love of the Father.2 The event of Christ is the “abbreviated Word” of the Father, who unfolds in his own body the Logos of God’s and man’s being (Rm 9:28, Vulgate). The final part of our reflection clarifies that the event of Christ, unlike other historical occurrences, continues throughout history. The Holy Spirit, communicatio Christi, makes contemplation of the Father’s face in Christ’s sacramental presence possible because he is the one who brings man into union with God through the Church.3
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1. Aquinas, Summa contra gentiles III, 25.
2. Our understanding of “event” incorporates the common sense of the term but has its ultimate foundation in the theological and philosophical meaning. See Oxford English Dictionary, s.v. “event.” For the importance of the category of event, see, among others, Benedict XVI, Deus caritas est (=DCE), 1; Joseph Ratzinger, Jesus of Nazareth. From the Baptism in the Jordan to the Transfiguration, trans. Adrian J. Walker (New York: Doubleday, 2007); Hans Urs von Balthasar, Theo-Drama. Theological Dramatic Theory (=TD), vol. 5: The Last Act, trans. Graham Harrison (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1983); Martin Heidegger, Gesamtausgabe. III. Abteilung: Unveröffentlichte Abhandlungen. Band 65. Beiträge zur Philosophie (Vom Ereignis) (Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann, 2003). All of Heidegger’s works in German are taken from this edition, hereafter cited as GA, followed by the number of the volume.
3. Irenaeus, Adv. Haer., III, 24, 1.