Thursday, April 30, 2015


Battle of Gettysburg
Bearing in mind our posts of the last couple of days, "Love"    and "Love, Tolerance and Labels " we can draw it all together in this significant post, which is worth reading and re-reading.

One of the participants in the Battle of Gettysburg almost 152 years ago spoke of the sound of the battle at its height as a monstrous roar unlike anything he had known - certainly other than human. One can reflect on the turning of the earth and the vast cacophony of human activity - good and bad, beautiful and ugly - and imagine it like a giant humming top emitting its combined cries of joy and pain, creation and destruction in a immense chorus into the heavens. All of it too much for us, but all of it is known continually, immediately and forever to God.

In 2006 Abbot Hugh Gilbert of Pluscarden Abbey preached on the subject “Christ the Light” and posed the question, “What’s really going on in life in the world? What on earth is really happening?” We might re-phrase the question as, “What’s it all about?”

The Abbot takes us back to St Augustine around 400 AD to begin the answer:

“So, my brothers and sisters, our whole business in this life is the healing of the eye of the heart, that eye with which God is seen. It is for this the holy mysteries are celebrated, for this the word of God is preached, to this that the Church’s moral exhortations are directed” (St. Augustine of Hippo, Sermon 88, 5).

Read St. Cyril of Alexandria or John Chrysostom or Gregory the Great on this same Gospel - or, for that matter, on any - and it’s clear they see the same. For them, for the Fathers of the Church, the Bible is an organic whole, fully present in any part. So, my brothers and sisters, our whole business in this life is the healing of the eye of the heart, that eye with which God is seen. If the Fathers are right, then, any passage of Scripture, a fortiori any passage from the Gospels, can yield us a vision of the whole.

What is really going on in the world? The Bible, Faith, give their answer: it is this mysterious, half-hidden, half-revealed, work of God. It is the Father’s work through his Son; it is the bringing back of his sons and daughters from the place of exile and abandonment to the house destined for them from all eternity. 

This is no small matter. It is the work for which the first promise of salvation after the Fall, and the covenants with Noah, Abraham, Israel and the house of David all prepare. It is the work achieved when Christ for the last time left Galilee, and Jericho, for Jerusalem, ‘took the toss / And rode the black horns of the cross - / But rose snow-silver from the dead’ (R. Campbell, To the Sun). It is the work carried on, offered to the whole of humanity, through the preaching and sacramental life of the Church, already visible in the communion of the Church, to be completed in the Land, the City, the House and Temple of the everlasting Kingdom. It is the bringing of creation to its goal. 

Faith has the nerve to say that under, in and through all things, even apparently contrary things, even the random, inexplicable, un-connectable things, it is this that is going on. ‘I am going tothe Father’s house,’were the last words of John Paul II.”

We need to keep the eye of our heart on God, remembering what it’s all about. God is not watching us “from a distance” as the song had it, but knows us continually, immediately and forever and knows how well we are keeping the eye of our heart on Him.


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