Monday, July 10, 2006
I'm grateful to Neil for adding his formidable academic prowess to our discussion of Dei Verbum. I think Walter Kasper adds a substantive point to our examination of Vatican II. Section 2 of the document begins a chapter entitled, "Revelation Itself," and we read:
In His goodness and wisdom God chose to reveal Himself and to make known to us the hidden purpose of His will (see Eph. 1:9) by which through Christ, the Word made flesh, (people) might in the Holy Spirit have access to the Father and come to share in the divine nature (see Eph. 2:18; 2 Peter 1:4). Through this revelation, therefore, the invisible God (see Col. 1;15, 1 Tim. 1:17) out of the abundance of His love speaks to (people) as friends (see Ex. 33:11; John 15:14-15) and lives among them (see Bar. 3:38), so that He may invite and take them into (communion) with Himself. This plan of revelation is realized by deeds and words having in inner unity: the deeds wrought by God in the history of salvation manifest and confirm the teaching and realities signified by the words, while the words proclaim the deeds and clarify the mystery contained in them. By this revelation then, the deepest truth about God and the salvation of (humankind) shines out for our sake in Christ, who is both the mediator and the fullness of all revelation. (cf. Matt. 11:27; John 1:14 and 17; 14:6; 17:1-3; 2 Cor 3:16 and 4, 6; Eph. 1, 3-14.)
Two prominent Scripture references strike me as passages more known for being artistic than dogmatic. Ephesians 1:3-14 and Colossians 1:15-20 are profoundly christological, but at their root, they are poetic hymns thought to be used by ancient Christians in liturgy, and today, employed in the Liturgy of the Hours as evening canticles. Tying this in with the intimacy of our relationship with God (friends-not-slaves, as John tells us) revelation is indeed far more than written information. It is, as Kasper suggests, something of seeing and touching, not just hearing (or perhaps reading).
Perhaps we could springboard further in suggesting that revelation may be something also of "feeling," in the affective sense. Naturally, my caution would be against an exclusively emotional sensibility in being open to God. But as a person more trained in "thinking" than "feeling," I've had to adapt my baseline sensibility and training to adapt to this avenue. And however we might cringe at an overly saccharine spirituality, a wholesale reaction against the emotions is likely to lead us equally astray. And it remains undeniable that Jesus presents himself to us as "friend," and his own emotions were of enough significance to be recalled by the evangelists.