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Posts Tagged ‘Salvation’

Marc Forster’s zombie thriller “World War Z” has been available for viewing for a while — I probably can’t say too much that hasn’t already been said.  But I did have three particular thoughts I wanted to share.

1. The Westward Journey

brad-pitt-world-war-zAs former U.N. employee Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) sets off on a globe-encompassing journey to find the antidote to the sudden zombie plague overtaking humanity, we notice that his trajectory leads unfailingly westward — from Korea to Israel to Wales.

The archetypal westward journey has always intrigued people, as the west — the direction of the setting sun — has traditionally been associated with death.

Sure enough — SPOILER ALERT — Lane does have an encounter with death by the end.  He must enter into the very center of the zombie “infestation” of a Welsh laboratory in order to procure an antidote that could save mankind.

Christ_Carrying_the_Cross_1580The Christ reference here is obvious.  Jesus Christ’s was the definitive Westward Journey.  He conquered evil by journeying into the very heart of darkness and death itself (much to the surprise of those who expected Israel’s Messiah to be more of a military conqueror).

2. Israel’s Wall

Film-Speedy Zombies

I was also fascinated by the fact that Israel knew about the oncoming zombie plague before the rest of the world, and accordingly prepared itself.

Just as “World War Z” envisions a zombie plague infecting all of humanity, the Old Testament draws attention to the universal plague of sin.  Furthermore, just as Israel gets a heads-up about the zombie epidemic and builds a defense against the onslaught in “World War Z,” God elects Israel and gives it His divine laws so as to make them holy in the Old Testament.

But ultimately, the zombies make it over Israel’s wall.  In the same way, the preparatory Mosaic Law given to Israel could not take away sin.  That took an act of God, who undertook a self-effacing journey into death like that of Gerry Lane.

3. Noise

zombieFinally, the notion that zombies are attracted by noise was, at the very least, intriguing.

I don’t think there’s any way around it: We are a culture of noise.  Between iPads, televisions, blasting car stereos, busy traffic, and our many other sources of auditory overkill, silence has become a rare commodity indeed.

Color me extreme, but I think we could say that noise has a way of “attracting” the enemies of mankind — namely, the devil and his minions.  Let me explain: When we don’t make sufficient room for silence, reflection, and introspection, when we distract ourselves too much with useless noise, then bad influences can creep into our lives without our even realizing it.

To be sure, there is also such a thing as too much silence, and the devil can use that against us as well.  But frankly, I don’t think our culture has that problem.  I think, rather, that it stands in need of rediscovering the legitimate function of silence.

But that’s a whole different post.  Thanks for reading.

Other reviews:

Image of “Christ Carrying the Cross” by El Greco from Wikipedia; others obtained through a Google image search.

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Pope_Francis_in_March_2013

Much has been made of a comment Pope Francis made a couple weeks ago in a homily — I think you probably know what I’m talking about.

The Holy Father made two points:

1. All human beings are called to do good; and

2. Christ has redeemed not just Catholics, but all people — even atheists.

Many have taken this to mean that everyone basically gets a free pass to heaven.  But a little clarification is needed.

Really, there is nothing newsworthy here.  The Pope was, in fact, merely reaffirming Church teaching on God’s universal salvific will and the fact that the Body of Christ extends beyond it’s visible boundaries (which is to say, the Catholic Church).

But here’s what we have to keep in mind: Christ, for His part, has redeemed all humanity of all times and all places.  But salvation is a two-way street.  Our salvation required the initiative of Almighty God Himself, “who wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4).

But, as Peter Kreeft says in his great book “Catholic Christianity,” God seduces us, but He never rapes us.

No one can be forced into heaven.  Heaven is an eternal relationship with God and with the assembly of the blessed, and one which must be entered into freely.  God has freely and gratuitously redeemed us, and now we must freely and generously respond with our lives and hearts.

Here is the official Church teaching on the subject:

Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience – those too may achieve eternal salvation.

…they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it.*

But even those atheists (and others) of goodwill who obtain salvation are, just like the rest of us, saved by Christ, not by their own merits.  When they turn toward the good as they know it, they are turning toward Christ, though they may not realize it.  For Christ is the Source of all that is good, true, and beautiful.

Hope that helps clear things up a bit.

* From “Lumen Gentium, the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church” (italics mine), quoted in reverse order — full text here: http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_const_19641121_lumen-gentium_en.html

Photo from Wikipedia

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Mother MaryFor part 2, click here: https://intothedance.wordpress.com/2013/05/28/the-praises-of-mary-the-new-eve-part-2/

We left off with a comparison of Genesis 1 and John 1, demonstrating that the latter shows Jesus Christ to be the New Adam by following the creation-based trajectory of the former.  In John 2, we see a corresponding revelation of Mary, the Mother of Jesus, as the New Eve.

Here is how the Bible recounts Adam’s discovery of Eve on the “Seventh Day,” after all of creation had been completed:

So the LORD God cast a deep sleep on the man, and while he was asleep, he took out one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. The LORD God then built up into a woman the rib that he had taken from the man. When he brought her to the man, the man said: “This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; This one shall be called ‘woman,’ for out of ‘her man’ this one has been taken.” That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body. (Genesis 2: 21-24)

Before we go any further, let me stress that this is not any indication of inferiority or merely derivative dignity on the part of women.  For the ancient Hebrews, bones represented the whole person.  And so what these verses truly imply — nay, profess — is equality and mutuality between the sexes.

Anyway, let’s move on to John 2:

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding. When the wine ran short, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” (And) Jesus said to her, “Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servers, “Do whatever he tells you.” (John 2: 1-5)

Keep in mind the introductory clause: “On the third day…”  This means the third day from where John 1 left off (and keep in mind that there were no chapters or divisions in the original; these were not added until the Middle Ages).

If you remember our discussion of John 1 in part 2, you will remember that it follows a certain pattern from Genesis 1: “The next day…” “The next day…”  This phrase occurs three times, which makes for a total of four days accounted for in the first chapter of John’s Gospel.

Now, if the wedding at Cana takes place on the third day following the fourth day, what day would that be?  Come on, first-grade math buffs, you know it…

That’s right — the seventh day.

Just as the first Adam finds Eve on the Seventh Day, calling her “woman,” so does the New Adam see his Mother, the New Eve, on the seventh day, addressing her as “woman” (this, by the way, was an idiomatic expression in both Hebrew and Greek that implied no offense or denigration).  Just as on the Seventh Day of Genesis the first marriage takes place, so on the seventh day of John’s Gospel is there a wedding at which Christ, at the instigation of His Mother, will perform his first miracle (turning water into wine), thus inaugurating the new, spiritual marriage between God and man.

As the Mother of God, Mary had a unique and intimate partnership with her Divine Son in His plan of salvation.  The immensity and the great honor of her role are not to be underestimated…yet, that role would cost her.  She would have to give up her Son to a painful death (if you are a mother, please take a few moments to imagine this).  She would have to share in His very sufferings, as prophesied:

…and you yourself a sword will pierce… (Luke 2:35)

Yet through the strength of her obedience and love, Mother Mary has restored to us that which mother Eve lost us by her disobedience and selfishness.  God be praised!

Image from Wikipedia

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Annunciation

For part 1, click here: http://www.intothedance.wordpress.com/2013/05/25/the-praises-of-mary-the-new-eve-part-1/

St. Irenaeus of Lyons, a second-century Bishop, spoke of the Virgin Mary as having untied the “knot of Eve’s disobedience” with her own supreme act of obedience to the Divine Will.

Whereas Eve (like Adam) wanted to go her own way rather than trust in her Maker, Mary responded to the angel Gabriel’s annunciation of her virginal conception of Jesus with total humility:

“Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38)

St_Justin_Martyr

St. Justin Martyr, a second-century Apostolic Father, contrasted the Virgin Mary with the virgin Eve in his “Dialogue with Trypho,” stating that just as Eve in her disobedience had “conceived the word of the serpent,” bringing sin and death into the world, St. Mary in her obedience conceived the Word of God, bringing redemption and life.

Christ became man by the Virgin in order that the disobedience that proceeded from the serpent might receive its destruction in the same manner in which it derived its origin. (Italics mine)*

Finally, we must take a brief look at the correspondence between Genesis chapters 1-2 and John chapters 1-2:

In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless wasteland, and darkness covered the abyss, while a mighty wind swept over the waters.  Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.  God saw how good the light was. God then separated the light from the darkness. (Genesis 1: 1-4)

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1: 1-5)

All right, so far the connection is pretty clear.  St. John is evoking the Genesis account of creation, and proceeds to imitate the structure of Genesis chapter 1 in the progression of days (“and the next day,” “and the next day,” etc).  In doing so, he shows us that Jesus Christ, God’s own Creative Word, came to restore the first creation, which Adam’s sin plunged into ruin.

But what about the second chapter of these two Books?  We’ll get to that in part 3.  But until then, read Genesis 2 and John 2 for yourself, and see if you can spot a connection.

Photos from Wikipedia

* As quoted by Dr. Scott Hahn here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QgeU6d8Bxlo (9:00-9:11)

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The_Madonna_in_SorrowIf you haven’t read it already, here is a link to the first post in this series on the Virgin Mary, which focused on Mary as the new “Ark of the Covenant”: http://www.intothedance.wordpress.com/2013/05/21/the-praises-of-mary-the-new-ark/

2. Mary is the New Eve

Since the earliest centuries of Christianity, Mary has also been called the “New Eve.”  In order to understand this, we have to take a look at Jesus first.

Therefore, just as through one person sin entered the world, and through sin, death, and thus death came to all, inasmuch as all sinned – for up to the time of the law, sin was in the world, though sin is not accounted when there is no law.  But death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who did not sin after the pattern of the trespass of Adam, who is the type of the one who was to come.  But the gift is not like the transgression. For if by that one person’s transgression the many died, how much more did the grace of God and the gracious gift of the one person Jesus Christ overflow for the many.  And the gift is not like the result of the one person’s sinning. For after one sin there was the judgment that brought condemnation; but the gift, after many transgressions, brought acquittal.  For if, by the transgression of one person, death came to reign through that one, how much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of justification come to reign in life through the one person Jesus Christ.  In conclusion, just as through one transgression condemnation came upon all, so through one righteous act acquittal and life came to all.  For just as through the disobedience of one person the many were made sinners, so through the obedience of one the many will be made righteous. (Romans 5: 12-19)

So we can see the principle of typology at work here — that is, the recognition of types or prefigurations of the New Covenant revealed in Jesus Christ in the Old Testament.  St. Paul is clearly telling us that Jesus is the New Adam.  He has come to redeem the creation that the first Adam plunged into decay and death.

Adam and EveBut Adam did not act alone, did he?  Adam and his wife, Eve, ate the forbidden fruit together — Eve at the behest of the serpent (the devil), and then afterwards Adam at the behest of Eve.

Just so, Jesus did not act alone when He came to redeem the human race.  From all eternity, He chose Mary to be His New Eve, the woman who would participate in His salvific work in a unique way — and who would become the mother of a new, redeemed humanity.

The Church has always understood this to have been part of the prophecy contained within the Proto Evangelion (or “First Gospel”).  Addressing the serpent, God says this:

I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel. (Genesis 3:15)

The woman with whom the devil will be at enmity is, indeed, the Virgin Mary, and the offspring of whom God speaks is Jesus Christ.  In Christ’s suffering and death, the devil, the author of death, struck at His “heel,” killing Him.  But by the very action whereby the devil seemed triumphant, the Son of the Virgin crushed the devil’s “head” — that is, He took away his power over creation, disabling death and removing its power grip on mankind.

I will talk more about the specifics of Mary’s role in all this, as well as the Biblical support for Mary as the New Eve, in part 2.  Stay tuned.

Photos from Wikipedia

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