Surrender as Triumph
The then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger once remarked that he and Karl Rahner dwelt on different theological “planets.” Perhaps more has been made of this passing comment than is warranted. But, as I re-read Rahner, I am newly convinced that their planets circle the same Sun.
Pope Benedict has been offering a series of catecheses on prayer at his weekly audience. This past Wednesday he reflected on the famous account in the Book of Genesis of Jacob’s wrestling with the unknown stranger. The voice is Benedict’s, but the touch feels close to Rahner. Here is an excerpt:
The biblical text speaks to us of the long night of the search for God, of the battle to know his name and to see his face; it is the night of prayer that, with tenacity and perseverance, asks a blessing and a new name from God, a new reality as the fruit of conversion and of forgiveness.
In this way, Jacob’s night at the ford of the Jabbok becomes for the believer a point of reference for understanding his relationship with God, which in prayer finds its ultimate expression. Prayer requires trust, closeness, in a symbolic “hand to hand” not with a God who is an adversary and enemy, but with a blessing Lord who remains always mysterious, who appears unattainable. For this reason the sacred author uses the symbol of battle, which implies strength of soul, perseverance, tenacity in reaching what we desire. And if the object of one’s desire is a relationship with God, his blessing and his love, then the battle cannot but culminate in the gift of oneself to God, in the recognition of one’s own weakness, which triumphs precisely when we reach the point of surrendering ourselves into the merciful hands of God.
The rest is here.