Saturday, May 12, 2012

Eschatological reversals in Luke

Back when I took my first scripture class at Holy Apostles (Torah and Old Testament Historical Books), I wrote a paper on the Song of Hannah and its affinities with the Magnificat. The similarities between the two pericopes have been noted by a some other scholars. I went a step further in my paper, noting that the reversals in each correspond to a degree with the eschatological reversals in the blessings and woes of the "Sermon on the Plain."

I was finishing up my reading of the body of Fr. L. John Topel's Children of a Compassionate God, and I have to say that his conclusion (p. 258) caused some synapses to fire off. (The odor of ozone lingers still.) What really set it off was Topel's allusion back to the "Nunc Dimittis," specifically 2:34 (RSV): "Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel and for a sign that is spoken against [a sign of contradiction]."

Contradiction. Eschatological reversal. Shut. My. Mouth.

When we talk of the Church being counter-cultural, this is what we should mean. The Sermon calls us to do everything that our culture advises us against for our own self interest. The Golden Rule is not the highest virtue but the bare minimum! We are called to go past so far self interest and do what seems absurd, because that is the only way to convert a fallen world! Why turn the other cheek? To lead the violent to repentance? Why return good for evil? To heap burning coals upon their heads to bring them to conversion.

The Sermon, as Topel argues, is transformative in that it asks us not to respond by our natural instincts in response, but to allow God to inform our response. We are to imitate Him to become His sons and daughters, and by that transformation, bring about the Reign of God on Earth,

I love it when the theology transforms me! Deo gratia!
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