The Use of Talking

There is no end of things in the heart.

Francis Makes All Things New

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02-Gioachino-da-fiore

Last week Fr. John Hunwicke posted the first three parts (here, here, and here) of a series titled “Is the Pope a heretic?” His answer, by the way, is no, although for a very interesting reason. But what struck me the most  wasn’t the answer to his question, but rather Father’s analysis of the pope’s sermon at last month’s Easter Vigil.

After his usual attacks on rigid legalists yesterday and today, the pope goes on to say,

When the High Priest and the religious leaders, in collusion with the Romans, believed that they could calculate everything, that the final word had been spoken and that it was up to them to apply it*, God suddenly breaks in, upsets all the rules and offers new possibilities. #God once more comes to meet us, to create and consolidate a new age, the age of mercy. This is the promise present from the beginning. This is God’s surprise for his faithful people. … if we cannot let the Spirit lead us on this road, then we are not Christians. Let us go, then. Let us allow ourselves to be surprised by this new dawn and by the newness that Christ alone can give.

Fr. Hunwicke comments,

The Holy Father begins this passage by telling us Gospel truth. He is right to assert that the Priestly Jewish establishment did believe the final word had been spoken  and that it was up to them to apply it. Because they knew only the Old Law and the Old Word. They were wrong, because the Man on trial was himself the Law and the Divine Word, who had come to fulfill what was old. As the Church has incessantly taught, Newness put the Old to flight. The Old Testament ended and the New was begun when That Blood was shed.

But notice what happens at the point where I have inserted a *. The following words do accurately describe what happened in the Passion of the Messiah. God did suddenly break in, did upset all the rules, did offer new possibilities [although I think the anodyne flabbiness of that modern ‘management’ phrase about ‘offering new possibilities’ radically and infinitely fails to do justice to the cosmos-shattering wonder of both the Incarnation and the Atonement].

What we need to notice is how Bergoglio deftly changes tenses. He has begun in the past: The High Priest … believed …. Past tense … we were being told about the first century, circa 33 Anni Salutis. But after *, the tenses become present (breaks …upsets … offers). We hardly notice the transition … it slips past our guard … because there is an accepted convention that one can use a ‘Historic Present’ to render  more vivid a narrative of past events. But as the next sentence gets under way at the spot marked#, the careful listener will notice that we are no longer in a first century A D. We are now in the present tense; we are being told about the year 2017.

Fr. Hunwicke’s analysis opens up a stark view of the real agenda of this pontificate. Just as Christ replaced the Law with the Gospel (in the pope’s Lutheran reading), so now the age of the Gospel is being superseded by the age of Mercy. To anyone familiar with Eric Voegelin, all this sounds very familiar: The dispensation of the Father is succeeded by that of the Son, which is in turn succeeded by the reign of the Holy Spirit. Here is the gnosis of Joachim of Fiore, the eschatological doctrine of the Spiritual Franciscans, being proclaimed in St. Peter’s by a pope who has named himself Francis. The guidance of the Spirit, our “discernment,” will lead us beyond the literal sense of the words of Christ (after all, as Fr. Sosa has reminded us, the evangelists didn’t have tape recorders) to places we may never have thought we would go. As Archbishop Scicluna of Malta tells us, “Whoever wishes to discover what Jesus wants from him, he must ask the Pope, this Pope, not the one who came before him, or the one who came before that. This present Pope.” What Francis says is all the guidance we need. The Spirit is here, now, and Jorge Bergoglio is his oracle. Montanus sits on the throne of Peter.

 

Nota bene: Fr. Hunwicke is in no way responsible for my conclusions.

Illustration: The three ages according to Joachim of Fiore from Dante’s Library,  https://sites.duke.edu/danteslibrary/

Oh, dear, got to do something about that blogroll!

 

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Written by hans castorp

May 21, 2017 at 10:20 pm

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