Tuesday, December 22, 2015

magnificat anima mea

For Zion was saying, ‘The Lord has abandoned me,
the Lord has forgotten me.’
Does a woman forget her baby at the breast,
or fail to cherish the son of her womb?
Yet even if these forget,
I will never forget you.
--Isaiah 49:14

My favorite words in the entire New Testament are Peter's: "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life."

They are one of those delicious lines in Scripture that open up worlds of different possible intonations and interpretations. Perhaps Peter's words are a firm rhetorical question, followed up by a staunch profession of loyalty. Perhaps they were uttered with florid sentiment and tears.

But right now, as I ponder them, they sound almost annoyed.
Lord, what choice do we have? There's no other viable option. The choice between following Christ and not-following Christ is choice between an option and a non-option. One either chooses Everything, chooses the entire cosmos, pulsing with love and beauty, or opts for nothing. One either chooses to become more humanly, or negate the very nature of oneself.

Peter's words are more frustrated, it would seem, than anything: what choice do we have but to trust you? You are Truth itself. We are bound to you by our very natures. This really sucks for us. We aren't really in control here. We aren't the agents of power in this scenario. We can't really "go" anywhere else. The only place else to go is nowhere. 
He asks: Will you leave, too?
Peter responds sharply in reply, the way my teenage sister does, when she's tired of you asking what she thinks is a stupid question (like: How are you? or How's your day been?) over and over again: I'm FINE! She'll hiss, wondering why these annoying family members won't leave her alone. I imagine  Peter responding in the same vein, acerbically and pointedly,  Lord, to whom shall we go? Like, what are our other options here, man? You and your crazy: "Eat My Body" talk are kind of It, in the way of Incarnate Truth. I mean, it's not like there are other Sons of Man we can just look up in the White Pages. So. Yeah. I guess we'll be along for the ride.

In my imagination, Peter is annoyed because he has no other options, and Christ hasn't made this one look any easier. In fact, Christ has now made the one option left--pursuing the Living Word--look like you're one of those crazies hanging around the cultish preacher-man who talks about eating his body. Nooo thank you.

Peter trusts that this "my flesh is true bread" talk is a legitimate something, and not cannibalism. But all he has to go on is that trust. Christ has made a promise that He has the words of eternal life.

The task of the believers, throughout millennia, from Abraham down to you and me largely seems to be cultivating that trust, waiting for those promises to be fulfilled. We trust. We wait, remembering what we have been promised. We have been promised so much.

And Mary sings her magnificat, reminding us of the glory of these promises being fulfilled. Her soul resonates with the glory of the Lord: of one who waited for God's action, and who finds it already at work in her life. What wondrous love is this, indeed.

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