An Initial Reflection on the Mystery of Jesus
Initial reflections . . . I wish I could make ‘initial reflections’ like these. Pope Benedict begins in a strange place – the Book of Deuteronomy and the promise by God for a ‘new Moses.’ He then contrasts the commandment against divination (practiced by the peoples Israel was to drive out of Canaan) with that of prophecy. He speaks of the difficulty experienced by Israel – the yearning to know the future, yet unable to lawfully engage the practices of the world around them. Pope Benedict gives the example of Saul – ‘forced’ to council with a witch: “If the Lord will not speak, then someone else will have to tear aside the veil that covers tomorrow.”
The way of the Lord is faith. Faith that he will send someone – more concretely that the Lord will send a prophet ‘like unto’ Moses who would lead the people into “an even more radical kind of exodus.” And at the end of Deuteronomy we’re told why Moses was different – for he had conversed with God “face to face.” Forget the miracles he performed – it was this quality which is the only source of truth for Israel. The prophet’s duty is not to unveil tomorrow . . . it is to show us the face of God. Yet even Moses was only allowed to see the ‘hind parts’.
And it is in this context that Pope Benedict leads us into the New Testament – specifically John 1:18: “No one has ever seen God; it is the only Son, who is nearest to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.” “What was true of Moses only in fragmentary form has now been fully realized in the person of Jesus: He lives before the face of God, not just as a friend, but as a Son; he lives in the most intimate unity with the Father.”
And it is here that Pope Benedict begins the journey to see Christ for who He is and His “filial existence.”
More later on chapter one.