Thursday, August 26, 2010

Paul’s paradoxes…

If God is “crucified flesh” for Paul, and that is what he has fallen in love with, then everything is a disguise: weakness is really strength, wisdom is really foolishness, death is really life, matter is really spirit, religion is often slavery, and sin itself is actually the trapdoor into salvation.  People must recognize what a revolutionary thinker Paul was with such teachings as these; and we made him into a mere moralistic churchman.

So the truth lies neither in the total affirmation nor in the total denial of either side of things, but precisely in the tug of war between the two.  Hold on to that, and you will become wise and even holy.  But be prepared to displease those on either entrenched side.

Richard Rohr, adapted from Great Themes of Paul (CD)

It’s wonderful to read these words of Rohr! I so often find myself—as many Franciscans do—caught between entrenched positions. My heart is so impossibly Christ’s that I’m helpless to do otherwise. If I’m honest, I have to give my absolute allegiance, and obedience, to God’s word—which is, if we read and understand the opening of John’s Gospel, Jesus himself. Yet if I do that, I am brought up against his words at the institution of the Eucharist, “take, eat, this is my body given for you… this cup is the new covenant in my blood” (Luke 22:19-20). Evangelical and Catholic—the classic paradox that Francis himself lived out, with a style of personal worship in the Holy Spirit that anyone in our time would identify as Charismatic!

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