Fr Rodney Kissinger, S.J.
We live in an information centered society. We have a lust for knowledge; we want to know. This lust for knowledge has created what is called “info mania.” This info mania has spread into religion. And the one we want to know most about and be most certain of is God. This can set us off on a “wild goose chase”, on a mission impossible. I know I tried it.
Theology is defined as: Faith seeking understanding. But we have to understand what we mean by understand. Faith gives us mysteries that cannot be discovered or known by reason alone. Theology does not mean that we understand the mystery; if we understood it, it would no longer be a mystery. It simply means that it is a mystery and why it is a mystery. For example, I studied the Trinity for one whole semester just to learn at the end that it is unintelligible. If you understand it, you don’t understand it. Karl Rahner called God the “Incomprehensible Obvious”
Jesus lived a simple life style, spoke a simple language, and taught a simple doctrine. He reduced the whole law and prophets to the law of love: love of God and love of the neighbor. And he said that there is an indissoluble bond between the two. In the parable of the Good Samaritan, when asked who was the neighbor he identified the neighbor as the one in need. Jesus did not choose learned phds for his apostles. He chose simple, perhaps illiterate, fishermen. He told them that they would be the light of the world and the salt of the earth. And they were.
Christianity is not an intellectual pursuit. It is a pursuit of love. Christianity is not anti-intellectual. It is truly intellectual. It realizes the limitations of the intellect and transcends it. Knowledge precedes love. We cannot love what we do not know. But it is in loving that we get to mystical knowledge; when we really get to know the person.
Christianity has to be simple first of all because it is for everyone. God wants all to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations…” (Matt. 28:19) There are millions of adults in this country who are functionally illiterate. There are even greater millions of illiterates in the third world countries. Christianity is not for them? Didn’t Jesus die for them also? All the theologians are not saints and all of the illiterate are not devils. Maybe it is vice versa. John Courtney Murray, one of the most learned Jesuits in this country used to tell his students who were awed at his knowledge, “Courage, it is more important than knowledge.”
Christianity has to be simple also because it is a way of life. It is the way to live throughout the whole of life. It is not some esoteric truth that the elite will discover after many years of prayer and study. So that at the end of your life you say, “Eureka, I found it” and die in peace.
We know that it is simple from our own personal experience. In the beginning of the spiritual life we needed a lot of material for our meditation. Our prayer was rigidly structured: preludes, petition for grace, points, colloquy, resolution, and a tessera.
Then as we went along the scaffolding fell away and we learned that it was the discovery of the obvious, the realization of the simple truth, that is life shattering, character changing and that nourishes, satisfies and inspires. Now only one truth, one word, one image is sufficient.
And finally no word, concept,
or image is needed. We are content to be aware of the presence of God.
To rest in the presence of God. And to enjoy being in the presence of
God. We discover that love is the greatest of all prayers. And we can
pray always simply by being-in-love.
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