Time

clocks-template-vectorFather Pat’s Pastoral Ponderings  [Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon]

Our English word “time” bears a double burden, which in more sensible languages (like Italian) is carried by two different nouns. Thus, our “time” can mean a point in time: an instance or event (Italian volta). Our English “time” can also mean something fluid: a passage of time, or time in sequence (Italian tempo).

In biblical Greek (another sensible language), time as an instance or event is designated as a kairos (in Hebrew mo’ed). “Time” in this sense is a happening, a thing indivisible. When, however, Greek wants to say “time” in the sense of fluidity or a sequence, the proper word is chronos. This obvious root of our English “chronology” indicates time as something measurable, and therefore divisible. Both these Greek words for “time” are important in Holy Scripture.

With respect to the Lord’s Resurrection, of course, kairos is the sort of time that comes first to mind, because this was certainly an indivisible event. If, however, we were to think of the Lord’s Resurrection solely as an individual happening, we would run the risk of separating it from biblical chronology. We might de-historicize it.

In fact, a certain disposition to neglect chronology remains a persistent temptation for some Christians. In the 2nd century, for example, there was Marcion, who radically separated the kairos of Christ from the narrative chronos of the Old Testament. Another example—in the 20th century—was Rudolph Bultmann, who divorced the kairos of the act of faith from the chronos of the historical Jesus.

In view of this persistent heretical disposition, it is significant that our Lord, promptly after the singular event of the Resurrection, made certain that that kairos was not separated from the chronos of biblical history. He singled out two disciples and walked along with them, explaining the relationship of that event to the burden of biblical prophecy: “And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, he expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.”

That is to say, the salvific events of the Christian faith could not be theologically divorced from the full sequence of biblical history. Revelation is revelatory history.

It may be said, moreover, that the conversation of the risen Christ, as he walked with Cleopas and his unnamed companion, opening the Bible for them, was the Church’s first formal course in theology, This term, correctly understood, is the study of God’s Word: Theou-Logos.

That discourse took place within hours of the Lord’s rising from the dead; on that day “the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David,” demonstrated that he “was worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals.” He was worthy to do this because he was slain and had redeemed us to God by His blood (Revelation 5:5, 9).

Jesus interpreted Holy Scripture, because he “fulfilled” it through the historical and theological events of His death and Resurrection. His blood-redemption of the world was the foundational principle of theology.

From time to time, as we know, Jesus had interpreted individual passages of Moses, Isaiah, David, and other Old Testament writers, normally in reference to himself. In that discourse on the road to Emmaus, however, our Lord devoted the entire effort and time to this single theme, laying the foundation for the proper Christian understanding of the Bible.

It may be said that all orthodox Christian exegesis goes back to that conversation, and we correctly approach the writers of the New Testament as illustrating the interpretive patterns put forward in that conversation. The “allegory” (Galatians 4:21-31) or “spiritual sense” (1 Corinthians 2:6-16; 2 Corinthians 3:18) of God’s Word is that Word’s underlying Christological reference, its relationship to the risen Lord, who brings it to historical and theological fulfillment.

Clothed in the literary forms of history, parable, and poetry, the Bible’s deeper doctrinal message is ever its reference to the Mystery of Christ, who is at once God’s only path to us and our only path to God.

Thus, every line of the Bible, every symbol and every story, every prophecy, proverb, and prayer bears its deeper and proper significance in Christ. Its meaning is conveyed in the teaching and sacraments of the Church.

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Unbelieving Thomas

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When the Apostles told Thomas that the Lord appeared, unbelieving Thomas said that he would not believe until his fingers and hands did not feel Christ’s ribs. Human nature, which in this case was expressed by the Apostle Thomas, is doubting and unbelieving until he receives proof with his own eyes and hands. The Lord was not Resurrected for Himself, He didn’t need to come to the world, rather He did that for us and our salvation, for we are the ones who because of our sins fell under the slavery of sin,for this reason was the Lord risen from the dead and broke the chains of death and granted us hope in life eternal. The mere fact that the Lord rose from the dead will not save us until we believe it and don’t follow in His footsteps and words. May the Lord grant us all the strength that we always endure in our witnessing and that we never, according to our human weaknesses, doubt in Christs Resurrection, for through our faith we will see the face of God.

– Bishop Gerasim of Gornji Karlovac

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A.D. The Series: Your Thoughts?

adI could use some feedback from readers and/or fellow bloggers. I realize that might be asking too much considering I haven’t been all that active on here as of late but….

The new television series “A.D”: Have you been following it? It debuted on the evening of our Palm Sunday. I was able to catch only a few minutes of it but couldn’t devote more time since our Holy Week was upon us and I had other things to do. I tried to catch up on online but even that hasn’t been that easy of a task.

I suppose the saying “the book was better” would apply. But in this case it was better not because it was more enjoyable but more accurate. That’s the one thing we look for when our favorite novel hits the silver screen – will it stay true to the book version? In this case – as is the case of almost all Bible-based movies or series – there are inevitably going to be inaccuracies.

But I suppose main question is: Is the series harmful? Are the inaccuracies that bad? If you’ve been watching and following the series please share your insight.

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On Heaven and Hell

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Day and Night

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Father Patrick Henry Reardon’s Pastoral Ponderings:

The opening chapter of Genesis has long been a favorite of Christians, and ancient commentators discovered in its lines profound levels of meaning.

In more recent times, on the other hand, some readers of Genesis, distracted by apologetic concerns alien to the deeper interests of the Sacred Text, have failed to discover those depths. For example, even from boyhood I recall that some of my teachers were preoccupied with the length of the six “days” of Creation. Was it really necessary, they asked, to think of those “days” in the sense of having twenty-four hours? Might they not, instead, represent long periods of Natural History?

No, this is certainly not what the biblical author has in mind. The problem with such questions is that they distract the mind from the deeper message of the Sacred Text. To ask, “how long” these days of Creation are is a distraction. Genesis does not picture the earth as a ball spinning in space. Genesis 1 is not an exercise in Natural History.

Indeed, this is partly the point. In Genesis the setting and rising of the sun are not what determine day and night. With respect to Day One (yom ‘ehad) of Creation we are told, “there was evening and morning,” even though the sun itself had not yet been formed. How can there be evening and morning without a sun? For the Bible that is obviously not a problem. To make it a problem is a distraction.

We modern folk think of the sunlight as that which makes the day, and the absence of sunlight as that which makes the night. However, Holy Scripture and its ancient commentators would have thought these very shallow notions. In the Bible, the sun “marks” the day; it does not create it. The day is still there, so to speak, with or without the sun.

God created the light three days before He created any of the heavenly bodies. Light and darkness in the Creation story exist independent of the sun or anything else. Day and night are simply the names of light and darkness: “God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night.”

It is important to note that Genesis does not say that God created darkness; darkness was, so to speak, already there. Darkness is nothingness; the night is vestigial non-existence. This is why the Bible’s final book tells us, with respect to heaven, “There shall be no night there” (Revelation 22:5).

Light, on the other hand, is the first thought of God; “Let there be light” are His first recorded words. The light in Genesis is not a by-product of solar energy. It is, rather, the principle of intelligibility in the structure of Creation. The light that God calls into being at the beginning of Genesis is that inner form of meaning that the mind of man, in due course, will be created to discover and investigate.

For much of the modern world, these biblical ideas make no sense at all. The modern world, or at least a great deal of it, does not know that the world is an intelligible place. According to the modern view, intelligibility is not a characteristic of the world itself, but only of the human mind. Modern man thinks he is supposed to “make sense” of the world, not discover a sense that is already there.

The modern world logically reaches this conclusion because it no longer believes in Creation. Instead, the existence of the universe is explained (!) as the random result of physical forces. The modern world knows nothing of “why?” but only “how?” The universe, accordingly, defies a “why” and has only a “how?” That is to say, it has no light except physical light. It has no intrinsic intelligibility, because intelligibility, or “sense,” implies knowable structure, or form (morphe). A “random” world is a world without intelligible structure.

To repudiate the doctrine of Creation is, logically, to deny God’s first act, the calling forth of the light, which is the principle of truth. And here is where the teaching of Genesis becomes deadly serious, because the denial of the light is not just an individual denial. It is the ultimate denial. To foreswear the light of truth is the death of all knowledge. The loss of the light does not leave the mind neutral. It leaves the mind in darkness, an existence forever outside of the truth. In this sense, modern man’s predicament is that of Judas Iscariot, of whom the Bible tells us, “Having received the piece of bread, he then went out immediately. And it was night” (John 13:30).

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Great Lent Begins

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Great Lent begins today. We begin it in this household with the sounds of runny noses and coughs and sore throats and other bodily ailments. May it end – after a long journey of fasting and prayer – in both physical and, more importantly, spiritual health.

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The Christian Heritage of Kosovo and Metohija

The much anticipated book, The Christian Heritage of Kosovo and Metohija is finally out. There have already been a few book promotions: the Library of Congress in Washington, Boston, New York, Phoenix, LA. And a few more to come: San Francisco and Chicago.

The book is amazing and a book that should be in the home of every Serb. I purchased mine a few days ago at our Diocesan Annual Assembly. Click here to purchase your copy.

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