Jesus, Our Contemporary

The title of the post is the title of a symposium held in Rome from February 9th to 11th, sponsored by the Italian Bishops Conference (CEI).Among the invited speakers was N.T. Wright the noted New Testament scholar and Anglican bishop. I thought his intervention, available in English, was quite powerful. Those familiar with his writings will recognize many of the themes; but they find in this presentation a concise expression. He states:

The political meaning of the resurrection is, I think, one of the most profound reasons why, in the philosophy of the Enlightenment, the question was pushed back, sneeringly, at the church: but did it happen? The Enlightenment philosophy, which has shaped our contemporary world so radically, insisted that world history had turned its great corner in Europe and America in the eighteenth century. It was, say the American dollar bills to this day, a new saeculum. But if it is true that Jesus was raised from the dead then it is Easter that is the great turning-point of world history. World history cannot have two fulcrum moments. The Enlightenments own agenda was to banish God upstairs out of sight, so that enlightened modern man could run the world in his own way and we have seen what a mess that has produced, precisely where the Enlightenment was most at home. The church has gone along for the ride, content to play out its private spirituality with a contemporary Jesus who has been only a shadow of his true self. But the truly contemporary Jesus is the one who confronts all the pretensions of todays power just as he confronted Pontius Pilate that first Good Friday; and the resurrection is the sign that his kingdom, his truth and his power were the right kind. As the grandiose ambitions of the European and American Enlightenment look more and more threadbare, it is incumbent on the church to explore afresh the social, cultural and political tasks to which we are committed by the resurrection of Jesus our contemporary.

The full presentation can be found here: first pull down the schedule to "Sabato 11 Febbraio 9:30 a.m.," then click Relazione (EN) next to Wright's picture. It makes an excellent meditation for our celebration of the Day of the Lord.Many thanks to Sandro Magister for providing the link!

Robert P. Imbelli, a long-time Commonweal contributor, is a priest of the Archdiocese of New York. A book of essays in his honor, The Center Is Jesus Christ Himself, edited by Andrew Meszaros, was published this year by The Catholic University of America Press.

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