He is an Israelite, and it is part of his maturation process that the fate of Israel occupies first place in his heart – to assemble the straying flock, to lead the lost sheep back to the center of the Covenant. Yet from the very beginning he knows in the far reaches of his consciousness that Israel does not exist for herself but rather for all of mankind – ever since Abraham, and, with special clarity, since the Servant of God arrived.The universal is made concrete in the particular. What von Balthasar says of the relationship in Jesus' consciousness between his concern for Israel and his universal mission applies, mutatis mutandis, to the responsibility we have for the spiritual and moral integrity of Western civilization. Civilizations come and go, and we must not turn any of them into idols, but neither should we ignore our responsibility to our children and grandchildren. The demise of Western civilization – if it occurs – will be an unmitigated disaster for those who will stagger among its ruins. All the more so will this be the case – especially for women and girls – if, as seems possible, the resulting vacuum is filled by a revived and unapologetic Islam.
But . . . then we must also remember something else that von Balthasar says in the same context, something about Jesus' own openness to the mystery of God's unpredictability. Of Jesus, von Balthasar writes:
He does not want to know in advance, and he sets out no personal plans – the Father takes care of all that. Like a man he permits the Father’s will to advance toward him from the future.At this point in my life, I find this enormously inspiring. It is not a recipe for passivity, for it coincides, in Christ, with the most resolute determination to remain faithful to his mission of proclaiming the truth. So may it be with us.
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