Note: I have received this birthday meditation from my friend Levente Horvath, addressed, again, to ‘a son of Advent’, and I have decided to share it with you.
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As a Christian I shouldn’t try to think my way into a different way of living, but to live my way into a different way of thinking (paraphrasing Rohr). And of what does this different/new way of thinking consist? It is not just thinking that I am sharing the same confession of faith with the brethren, not that we agree with each other in our brains, but something far more beyond that. It is receiving others as I was received by Christ. As Jean-Louis Chrétien put it, “The first hospitality is nothing other than listening.” By listening, I pave the way toward living a “receiving-others-into-my-life, into-my-own personality”- lifestyle instead of living a life of pure thinking. In the New Testament Greek the word person (PERSONA in Latin) comes from PROSOPON, meaning “face-to-face.” This word in modernism was substituted with the word individual, INDIVIDUUM, the unit which cannot be further divided. But persona means turning to the other person, being open to listen to, receive, and let the person become part of me. This lets me be(come) a GENUINE PERSON. That is the secret of a Christian fellowship, of Christian living in, and as a member of, His Body. Rational abstraction is misleading, an illusion of living.
Both the modernist and postmodernist, altogether technology-inspired life-styles represent my soul’s constant danger, which lurks around me as a real, perilous temptation and invisible trap, yet I have to admit that it also penetrates my mind in a cunning and subtle way. I cannot avoid it; there is a strange, paradoxical and almost “magical” thinking overcoming the scientific-ism of this age, which seeks to have Reality conform to me and my desires, rather than that I should conform to Reality. I, as a Christian, should have posed the question: how should we live as Christians, how should I deny myself to be and stay in consensus with Reality? Instead of that, I am tempted by human greed which today perpetually poses the question: how can I submit Reality – or the perception of it – to my selfish desires? That hidden and crazy craving can be “solved” only by choosing the virtual world instead of Reality, or over Reality, or even “as Reality.” This solution in itself is a technique; it is no longer the formerly preferable “art of living and art of dying,” as the Christians of old ages pursued it, needless to say, correctly.
So how can we start to adjust ourselves to Reality, and escape the spell of an over-technologized virtuality and its click-able offerings which promise to satisfy the lusts of our egos? The Law of God is future tense: “Thou shalt love thy neighbor!”, meaning: You will love your neighbor. You will – if I am and can be your God, who redeemed you from the slavery of sin. It is neither an imperative, nor an indicative, but it is a promise: if I am your God, you will love your neighbor. Jesus promised: Because I LIVE, you SHALL LIVE as well. It is only Jesus who practices love in the present tense. I am never Being one who loves, just one who BECOMES TO BE. I am always first in enmity with God, with love, with following Christ in the lead of the Spirit. In other words, I have to be first led out of the slavery of my ego-centrism, of my natural hatred and pride, in order to be able and be dressed with the practice of genuine love. Of His love. Then, and only then, will I keep from thinking my way into a different way of living, but to live my way into a different way of thinking.
I wish you to ponder with me on these above when stopping at your “birthday-milestone” to have a glimpse of your whole life so far, in thanksgiving,
Yours in His genuine Reality,