The Incarnate Logos

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them…” (Matt. 5:17, ESV). When scrutinized in a vacuum, this proclamation of Jesus Christ remains thoroughly ambiguous. Fortunately, Jesus never intended for these words to be self-explanatory; his meaning is embodied by a great compilation of teachings to which Matthew 5:17 is attached. In other words, we cannot rightly interpret the meaning of this verse until we approach it through the broader context in which it resides. By analyzing several excerpts from Matthew Ch. 5, I will demonstrate two different means by which Jesus “fulfills” the law of God almighty: He makes complete those teachings which are incomplete, and he supplants blatant error with illumined truth.

According to Jesus, the righteousness of the Pharisees (conduct according to human law) was insufficient for one who desires redemption. The Jewish law of first-century Palestine was not entirely wayward, but even those laws which had preserved some measure of justice didn’t attain to the full righteousness of God as revealed by Jesus Christ: “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment…” (Matt. 5:21-22, ESV). And again Jesus calls us to a more exquisite quality of righteousness than the Jewish law ever maintained: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart…” (Matt. 5:27-28, ESV). The end of verse 28 is very distinctive. Formerly, Jews had conceptualized sin only as the perpetration of wrong action, but Jesus reveals that sin arises first within one’s own being; he reveals it to be a presence within the consciousness. In accordance with my antecedent claim, both instances can be recognized as incomplete laws that Jesus made complete.

As the incarnate Logos (see The Gospel according to St. John Ch. 1), Jesus Christ embodied the cosmic harmony of God. When he spoke about “God’s law”, he made reference to those subtle, transcendent laws of which he was intimately aware. In the possession of such authority, Jesus exercised the second function of his “fulfillment”: the rejection of erroneous, human laws. These sorts of ideologies existed at large within the Jewish communities of first century Palestine, and Jesus was never abashed about proclaiming the truth: “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also…” (Matt. 5:38-39, ESV). Never did Jesus exhibit an allegiance to any human ideology. He spoke about righteousness that even the eloquent psalmists would have blanched at: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust…” (Matt. 5:43-45, ESV). In stark opposition to centuries of Jewish thought, Jesus reveals the love of God to be entirely impartial; and he implores that we alter our conduct in accordance with that revelation. To his first-century audience (the Jews), Jesus fulfilled God’s law by calling them to greater righteousness where a modicum was already present, and proclaiming divine truth where it had never been seen or heard.

The Ambush

An aging monk in simple robes
I met him on the dusty road

“Good man!” he called aloud to me
“Won’t you lend a hand? I plead!

Many have passed me by you see
and here I am with broken knee”

I looked at him, beheld his plight
He’d sat in place for many nights

His modest garb stuck to the skin
Mud and rain had pelted him

No carriage on the dusty road
had stopped to add him to their load

Can’t I simply leave him there?
This thought became a cogent snare

Many miles had I to go
with only feet to bear me so

Yet in his eyes, a trusting flint
set my heart afire
I bent

The extra weight atop my arms
I carried him from ditch to farm

And once upon my humble bed
I gave to him a piece of bread

While he ate and spoke with me
a stunning sight there I did see

He swung his feet onto the floor
and walked himself right to the door

Turning once, he said with glee
“You’ve shown me hospitality

No money in pocket do I bear
but heavenly peace is mine to share

I give it freely unto you mind
that knowledge of worth you shall ever find”

With that he turned and left the room
vanishing from my house, so soon!

In that place I stayed not long
My heart was full of joy and song

To every stranger, now I speed
and ask of them, what is your need?

A Motif in the Likeness of Blaise Pascal, Thoughts

Morality

Unless there is an ultimate purpose life can be utilized to achieve, the only value one may ascribe to it will be arbitrary. Regrettably, the mind that resigns itself to the absence of true meaning will tend to forsake its nobler commitments in favor of sensual and idiocentric gratification. In this light, life becomes the pettiest affair imaginable.

The path followed in Christ’s wake is not a means to learned explanation, but a state of curative relationship.

Outward piety, if not a reflection of inner grace, is nothing but a narcissistic facade.

If we, as disciples of Christ, seek not the courage needed to edify the hearts of those around us, we attempt to pacify the spirit by way of mere congeniality.

Some may insist that anger is not involved with sin. I disagree. One must be of a mindful presence to evaluate his own shortcomings; and anger is an aggressive, reactionary presence that precludes mindfulness. In reconciling our faults to ourselves, the mindful state promotes patience: an attribute that never abides in the one who allows anger to remain near at hand. Instead of maintaining a peaceable mind by way of sapient consideration, a quarrelsome spirit invites provocation. An unwelcome thing will go where it isn’t resisted, which is why anger has always mothered senseless violence. It is outrage that cannot be counted among the vices of man. Outrage is an essential presence, arising in response to detestable things.

All suffering in the world (short of incidental calamity) is the result of people chasing after their own desires rather than seeking the will of God.

We as humans have somehow been lead to believe that we must take what we can get from others in order to prosper. It seems perfect irony that we should strive for a destructive conception of prosperity whilst taking frenzied steps in the opposite direction of true prosperity, which is born of reciprocity.

Each of us can be a ram’s horn of God, a fiddle to his melody.

Prudence

With help from the illusion of finality in death, we are tempted to believe only in those powers which are carnal. Ironically, these are the least among powers.

It is, for many of us, tempting to believe ourselves pyramids of reason standing among, comparatively, shanty-like fools. But reason is not, as the ego, implicit in man. It is something of the kind we must learn how to uphold. Largely, it is from people that we must learn; yet what does a pyramid believe it can learn from a shanty?

In itself, the pursuit of excellence is destructive and useless. Rather, when practicing a craft, let us pursue purpose, comprehension, and freedom. In these lie the true excellence that does not pretentiously call itself so.

It will rightly be considered baleful if an elderly person assumes belittlement upon any deviating perspective within a younger generation. It should similarly be considered baleful if a youth (I use the word broadly) assumes belittlement upon any deviating perspective within an older generation. If either party draws a line in the sand, the other will not need to draw a line of his own to render them divided.

There is no such thing as a profound word. Words, like any tool in the employ of inspiration, must be used to construct profundity.

Impose no expectations on a potentially beneficial experience. Discover what is, rather than despairing of what isn’t.

It is intellectually fashionable to speak of truth as being relative. It’s the irony of modern “enlightenment”.

Discipline is a striving against one’s impulses. Impulses are born of habit, and habit is formed through worldly conditioning of the mind and body. Through discipline, we consciously remove ourselves from the cycle of this unconscious passivity, which is precisely why discipline is necessary for cultivating personal knowledge of the Spirit.

We must believe in enlightenment without believing ourselves to be enlightened. We must believe in wisdom without believing ourselves to be wise.

A mind that dreads the deeds of tomorrow is a mind imbalanced. A mind that recognizes the opportunity of tomorrow is a mind within peace.

If one frets over a matter of ability, of course he will flounder, groping for imagined proficiency; but if matters vex him not, easily will the mind’s eye locate within what is needed or desired.

The expectation of hostility creates hostility.

The anticipation of a coming time slows its approach.

Conjecture

The only relevant imperative to the current natural order is survival. Therefore, we may rightly ask why morality bothers to present itself as an imperative to us. Natural selection concerns itself with the longevity of a species over that of an individual; for sex does not aid the individual in the preservation of its own longevity. And our species certainly doesn’t need to be moral in order to persist.

I see the past years’ time on a wheel. I do not visualize it, but I see it. And that is why “wheel”, although the best candidate among vernacular, is such a pitifully insufficient term. This brings us to the philosophy that material concepts cannot accurately represent what the rational coagulation of academia does christen “abstract thought.” Forthwith, the liberal arts are just those sorts of things that abstract thought will readily adopt, for the human mind can make of them whatever it pleases; and this is precisely what we call, creative imagination.

“Nothing” is just a word. The concept it indicates does not represent a true lack of existence. “Something”, to our senses, exists as matter and energy. Therefore, any substance that cannot be measured by our limited tools is “nothing” too our brain’s experience. That, however, would not somehow diminish the ability of an intangible thing to exist. But this is an inference of the mind: an oddity able to conceptualize realities seemingly beyond its own operations.

Necessity is on causation of habit. Necessary movements are fully programmed when memory no longer needs to be called upon consciously.

Each respective art it comprised of many devises that we may express ourselves in the utility of. But let us not mistake the devises (physical or conceptual) for the inspired thoughts themselves. We have created art, or “the devices”, in order that our thoughts, via the limited mediums of communication we comprehend, might be experienced after a meaningful fashion. All good art that we encounter is nothing more than a best-effort translation of the thing actually encountered by the artist.

Our current universe, we may observe freely, its properties, scrutinize. But it is impossible to know anything of the properties within further dimensions, what the Evangelic writers (St. Paul, etc.) termed “the Celestials”. Save a portion. There are several properties of celestial reality that exhibit themselves in human existence, and selectively, life abroad. These are: love, compassion, mercy, humility, trust, contentment, selflessness, honesty, joy, peace, relationship, perseverance, purpose, parenthood, and beauty itself.

Revelation

Previously I have scribed, “The path followed in Christ’s wake is a state of curative relationship”; so let us, for the sake of Christ’s body (the Church), define what a relationship isn’t. So long as our interactions with God conform to a reward-punishment model, only the illusion of a relationship will exist.

I do not believe that God measures us according to any caliber; rather, it seems he makes allotment according to purpose.

When another’s world falls utterly to ruin, we must be ones remaining who have not forsaken their suffering. That is when they will really look at our Christ.

We really share the Evangel, in its fullest measure, when we enter into the suffering of others, confirming through our service what we know and avow: that the sincerity, endurance, and humility of our servitude is born of life in God’s Spirit.

When in faith, we still the mind, God enters in.

We must be joyful in simply possessing the knowledge given us. In that, there is no pride of achievement; for we are enabled to share, pursuing the good of others, and not the desire to impress.

There are methods by which we will aid the process, but the end of self-renunciation is accomplished by the very purpose of The Spirit. It will guide us in faith.

We do not make achievements for God. We serve his purpose.

Pride is a robust source of fear; for we are often goaded(inwardly) to be fearful of failing to satisfy the subjective requirements of pride.

We’ve made the Gospel too much about giving the right arguments and not enough about embodying the truth, which is known only in Spirit.

Ministry isn’t a matter of trying to convince people they are wrong; rather, I’ve found it’s a matter of entering into their suffering and trusting God.

To give Divinity admittance, sometimes you need only remove yourself from the noise.

God our parent is not distant or even apart from us. He lives in our life, and suffers in our pain. He is in all and through all. He’s forsaken nothing.

In truly coming to understand the beliefs of others, in coming to reason or feel from their perspective, we come to better understand our own beliefs. Never resist the opportunity to understand.