13 September 2010

The Erudite Doctor

The order of redemption is therefore the radical reversal of the order of original sin: over against the ascent to God by man on his own powers (which results in the elevation of man, his assumptio, in God).  In the Verbum caro factum est and in the way it was accomplished, namely by accentuating and emphasizing the difference between God and man, all of mankind has been shown the exact place at which and from which alone its old longing for apotheosis can be fulfilled.  Christ is no “pointer,” no “perfected,” or “illumined,” or “spiritual” man, no “high sprinit,” or “great personality.”  Rather, Christ is God in the nature of a “normal man”.  From the paltriness of the human conceptus on: from the poverty of the crib, the invisibility and marginality of the thirty years as a manual laborer to the simplicity and fatigue of his life as an itinerant preacher, which was the only way he could obey his Father and fulfill his task, to the disgrace and torment of the Passion and the ultimate separation from the Father on the Cross and in death:  Everywhere the stress is put on “nature.”   

Of course not on a “naturalistically” understood nature, or on a “passionate love” for the “earth,” or on ecstatic and romantic association with the “human, all-too human.”  Rather, this stress is always on that illusionless, simple and unpathetic nature, as in the “simple people” who know how to accept the harshness of existence along with the occasional joys that come their way, not making much fuss about either, experiencing and taking in a great deal, sacrificing themselves and wearing themselves out with work without taking overdue notice of it or thinking it is “anything special,” keeping back in the lower ranks as simply a matter of course, and finally departing from this world without leaving any visible traces in world history, never really understanding why they, of all people, should be “the first.”
Hans Urs von Balthasar
"The Fathers, the Scholastics, and Ourselves"

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