Today's Wisdom

Those who do not pass from the experience of the cross to the truth of the resurrection condemn themselves to despair! For we cannot encounter God without first crucifying our narrow notions of a god who reflects only our own understanding of omnipotence and power
Pope Francis

Sunday, February 21, 2016

No Loss No Gain

[Jesus took Peter, John, and James and went up the mountain to pray. While he was praying his face changed in appearance and his clothing became dazzling white. And behold, two men were conversing with him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his exodus that he was going to accomplish in Jerusalem. Peter and his companions had been overcome by sleep, but becoming fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him. As they were about to part from him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good that we are here;
let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” But he did not know what he was saying.
While he was still speaking, a cloud came and cast a shadow over them, and they became frightened when they entered the cloud. Then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my chosen Son; listen to him.” After the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone.They fell silent and did not at that time tell anyone what they had seen.] (Luke 9: 28-36).
In the Sunday Mass of February 21 at Holy Rosary Roman Catholic Church, Professor Fr. Daniel Callam, CSB gave a scholarly homily as he delved in the depth of oral tradition of the Church. Luke was not there with Christ when Christ was transfigured and his clothing became dazzling white. Peter was. After the Resurrection of Christ, Peter and the other Apostles understood the meaning from the Master. Peter told it to Mark who accompanied him as a faithful  disciple. The story f the Transfiguration is found in Mark too (Mark 9: 1-8). Luke depended on Mark but Luke was more detailed since he was a physician and knew the Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus. When Peter was martyred in Rome, and the rest of the Apostles were also martyred or died, the early Church asked the remaining disciples to write down the Gospel. The literature of the Gospels retells the past events. Much of the wonders of Christ were not written (see John 21: 25). The oral tradition was also defended as early as the turn of the 2nd century by Papias who maintained that it gives direct testimony to Christ and his teachings to the Apostles. It is in history of the ancients that we find Homer's Iliad memorized by his students for many generations. For thousands of years societies related their stories of the past to their existential state mainly through oral tradition. Oral tradition was the reliable source of stories and copying of manuscripts until the invention of the printer by Gutenberg in the 15th century. Today's technology is replacing memory with machine. Students do not need to memorize what they learn because the computer network offers ready answers. It is never gain only but for every material gain there is a loss in human direct relationship. 
Notes: with the fast pace at which computer systems are published, the human brain cannot keep catching up (Cf. Dr. Antonio Damasio, professor of neuroscience at the University of Southern California). The Internet has been used to advance marketing and selling of products throughout the Globe and in obtaining Big Data (unstructured and structured) from millions of users to customize the web pages for each potential buyer. Google alone has made fortunes from sponsored ads on a number of its free offerings such as YouTube while Google engineers develop better search engines using artificial intelligence. Research on quantum computers is on going at Google in collaboration with NASA for possibly releasing the first quantum computer this year. The race to manufacture the first quantum computer is joined by giants such as IBM and Microsoft Corporations that spend much money on mega projects. See Professor Leo Kouwenhoven at Delft University in Amsterdam explain the concepts in quantum computers: This was a talk in November 2015.
Not only is rivalry becoming global but also the globalization of everything raises concerns in the moral realm - If NASA is involved in Big Data, quantum computers and artificial intelligence, it could signal the use of such technology in space and future space wars. If advanced technology falls in the wrong hands, terrorism could become widespread too. Professor Fr. Daniel Callam, CSB explained it: For every material gain there is a loss in human relationship. 

Let us turn to an inspiring lecture on the transfiguration of Christ:
The Gospel reading recalls to mind not only the transfiguration of Christ but also two great persons who appeared with him on the mountain: Moses and Elijah. In a talk at Jesus the King Church in 2008, Fr. Georges Farah, who earned his doctorate in philosophy from France and taught philosophy in Lebanon, expressed the deep meaning of the transfiguration. Let us contrast the two characters, he said. Moses was the Law maker – He experienced God’s presence at Mount Horeb in a burning bush that never extinguished its light. Moses delivered his people out of Egypt's slavery by mighty signs and gave them the Ten Commandments. Elijah, on the contrary, was the challenger of the Law. Elijah heard the Lord God and delivered his people out of another slavery: that of the false god: Baal. For this, he had to face the tyrant Ahab the king and his queen and their priests. While the Baal’s priests offered offerings to the Baal and prayed all day with no result, Elijah’s word opened heaven and fire descended at once and consumed his offering. He was the greatest prophet of Israel. Both Moses and Elijah transformed the lives of the people of God. Why did they appear and talk with Christ? Here is the question. If we go back to the event, we will find the key: Christ goes beyond the Law maker and the Prophet. The Law maker shows us the past- the Prophet shows the future. Christ is beyond both: He is the eternal one. To him, past and future are present. Eternity is beyond time. And Christ the Divine needs no time. The Law restricts (or regulates) our freedom (You shall not kill…You shall not desire your neighbour’s wife…etc.). Christ’s law goes beyond the Law- The law of Christ is perfect freedom! Christ’s law goes beyond good and evil. There are no categories for people: No one is inherently evil. Recall the healing of the man born blind. For the Jews he was born blind because of his sins or his parents’ sins. For Christ, the reason is utterly different: to make God’s wonders present in him. i.e. to show God’s love to him. Civilizations are tired with the old question of good and evil. Christ’s answer is simple: No human is evil. The more Christian values for human dignity are embedded in human laws, the closer we are to Christ’s law. In the developed world today, capital punishment has been eliminated – Why? Because people started to understand that a murderer is to be treated as a sick man not as a criminal. The Transfiguration offers us a glimpse of divinity’s light. The great light is that in spite of his impending suffering and death, Christ, the Eternal One, lives a life beyond the Law- a life of self-emptying love and joy. He teaches Israel his new law: love to the end. Do you want to start to be like Christ? Love and accept each one you encounter as he is. Treat your intimate husband or wife as you would treat a stranger with respect and dignity. Treat your children as they are with respect. They are not your slaves. They are God’s gift to you. We have nothing here that is not given to us. And receive that joy of life that the Spirit of God gives. Do this and you will experience the Transfiguration. * Based on a lecture by Fr. Georges Farah on Friday August 8, 2008 at Jesus the King Church, Toronto

Today's Quote

"Behold I make all things new." (Revelation 21:5)


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