instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Saturday, November 07, 2015

Lending a hand

At RCIA last week, it was observed that it's kind of hard to know how to get to know Jesus, when He's not here physically to see and hear and touch. I proposed this allegory (it's too convoluted to be a metaphor):

Suppose you fall into a deep ditch in the dark. (I didn't say why you might be wandering around deep ditches in the dark; you either recognize that as the human condition in a nutshell, or you don't.) It's too muddy and slippery to pull yourself out. Then a voice says, "Here, take my hand," and you see the hand reaching down to grasp yours and pull you out.

At that moment, you don't know the person who's helping you. You don't have any idea of what they're like, except that they're willing to pull you out of a deep ditch in the dark. Once you're out of the ditch, though, you hope to get to know them quite well.

For the person who doesn't yet know Jesus, the Church -- the Body of Christ -- is like the hand and the voice, we are here physically and can be seen and heard and touched. ("Is like"? Wait, is this a simile?) We are supposed to draw others to Christ, so they can know Him and love Him themselves.

For the person still in that ditch, it may not yet quite be faith by which they're willing to listen to us and to come and see what we say we have, Who we say we have to show them. It might be trust or curiosity (those old thresholds of conversion). But our Incarnate God did leave an incarnate Church, and the more we in the Church live in a way we would only live if we believe what we preach, the more that person might suspect we really do have Someone they should meet.



Wednesday, November 04, 2015


Mark Shea has a post today on the question of whether "forgetting completes the Christian process of forgiveness." We know we are to forgive, but are we to forgive and forget?

Here's what I wrote as a comment on Mark's post:
In Psalm 25:7, we pray with David, "Remember no more the sins of my youth; remember me according to your mercy, because of your goodness, LORD."

If God forgets something, it's not just forgotten. It ceases to exist. More, it never did exist. That is the degree to which God, in His freely bestowed mercy, forgives us, and restores our relationship with Him.

Human forgetfulness doesn't work that way. If you forget some wrong I've done, that doesn't mean I didn't do it. The effects of my act remain. It may well be the case that those effects are negligible, in which case we can speak of human forgetting in the same metaphorical sense of Divine forgetting, to signify the full restoration of a relationship. But there are also cases where the effects aren't negligible and the full restoration of the relationship is not within our power.

Our responsibility as Christians is to do what lies within our grace-aided power, but not what lies beyond.
So I guess I'd say the answer is yes and no. Yes, forgetting completes the Christian process of forgiveness, but no, that process isn't always complete this side of heaven.