Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Surprised by Faith

It's easy to think of Him as more than human, especially if you already subscribe to a high Christology. In one class that I took, another student admitted to thinking of Him as a kind of superman. First, of course, there are the miracles. Then there are the confrontations with the Pharisees, in which He seems to know what their thinking, like a comic book hero with telepathic powers. Padre Pio was said to have been able to read souls, and it's not unreasonable to assume that any spiritual gifts possessed by human saints would also be present, par excellence, in the incarnate Word.

It is also possible, however, that he came by this knowledge in a human way, through observation and deduction. Maybe Jesus "knew" what the Pharisees were thinking in the same way that a really good Republican strategist "knows" what a Democrat partisan thinks.

We are confronted by this human limitation, present in the human nature of Christ, in Matthew 8:10. In the middle of the account of the encounter between Jesus and the centurion is the statement that Jesus "marveled" (RSV), "was amazed" (NAB), or "was astonished" (NIV). The centurion's statement of faith was, apparently, not what Jesus expected.

The Church selected this gospel passage for us to hear on the first Monday of Advent, the day after we heard Isaiah proclaim that all nations would stream toward the mountain of the Lord's house. In the centurion, a gentile official of an occupying power, Jesus found a faith that was lacking in the tribes of Israel. Perhaps this was a sign to Him that the age of the Old Covenant was drawing to a close, and the time had come to initiate the New Covenant.

1 comment:

♥Sarah♥ said...

If there was such a thing as supper heros... well God would blow them all away. Though seeing as there's not... he makes an AMAZING God :)