The Distinctive Christian Tension

Thirty years ago, a not yet thirty year old Rowan Williams wrote a remarkable book, The Wound of Knowledge: Christian Spirituality from the New Testament to St. John of the Cross.To celebrate today's feast of Saint John of the Cross, some reflections from that book:

John of the Cross sums up, in very many respects, classical themes of Christian spirituality, of the distinctively Christian understanding of spiritual maturation.On the one hand: the Word is flesh and is communicated in the flesh -- in historical tradition, in personal human encounter, in material sacrament. The Word re-forms the possibilities of human existence and calls us to the creation of new humanity in the public, the social and historical world -- to the transformation of behavior and relationship, knowing God in acting and making.On the other hand: the Word made flesh is recognized as such in the great crisis and resolution of crucifixion and resurrection. The Word is crucified and rejected by the world; only when we see that there is no place for the Word in the world do we see that he is God's Word, the Word of the hidden, transcendent creator. And then, only then, can we see, hear, experience the newness of that creative God, resurrection and grace, new life out of the ultimate negation and despair.

En una Noche oscura/ con ansias en amores inflamada/ Oh dichosa ventura!

Rev. Robert P. Imbelli, a priest of the Archdiocese of New York, is Associate Professor of Theology Emeritus at Boston College.

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