Sunday, December 10, 2006

Worshipers and Stonethrowers

Most people in our lukewarm age will find von Balthasar's contrast (in the prior post) between worshipers and stone-throwers too stark. Our tendency is to temper such distinctions. What we fail to realize is that all our more agreeable distinctions move ineluctably in the direction of worshipers and stone-throwers. There are many stone-throwers who began as worshipers and many worshipers who were once stone-throwers.

Jesus' question: "Whom do you say that I am?" remains humanity's central conundrum. The first impulse of fallen humanity upon hearing the question is to reach for a stone. Those who have never felt that impulse may not as yet have experienced the full implications of Jesus' question.

Our world abounds with erstwhile worshipers who have taken up stones to throw at Christianity and the Church, but it is also abounds in stone-throwers who are one stone away from a conversion of the heart. It is, after all, the former stone-throwers, like Paul, who came to experience a reconciliation heretofore unknown to the world -- the peace that passes understanding -- in which there is no longer either Greek or Jew, male or female, servant or master, but all are one in Christ.

But getting to that universal reconciliation begins with the stark distinction von Balthasar insists was provoked by Christ, between worshipers and stone-throwers.

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