Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Word made Flesh

Baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.... And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father.... For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
 – John 1:1,14,17
There is no doubt that St. John intends us to compare this opening statement in his Gospel with the first line of the Bible: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." (Genesis 1:1)

I was contemplating on "the Word" this morning trying to understand why John used that term in describing the Son, and it seemed to me that what he was saying was that along with the physical world there is also a spiritual world that has always existed. I also recalled from Genesis that God created Man in His own image. (Genesis 1:27)

The one thing that truly sets Man apart from the other animals is his ability to reason. So it seems to me that this is a clue about the sense in which Man was created in the "image" of God.

This brings us back to "the Word" which is normally associated with language. Words, language, ideas, thoughts, concepts. This is as close to God as we can come while we are still living on this earth.

I imagined springing from "the Word" all the ideas, thoughts, concepts that ever were and ever shall be. "The Word" then is Truth. It is the fountainhead of Truth from which all other truths flow.

But rather than a fountain, I envisaged something more like a tree with branches reaching up into the sky. And when we think we have invented something new, it is just that we have discovered a new branch of that tree.

I wasn't thinking of the "Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil" of Genesis, but now that I write down these thoughts it does seem like there is a similarity.

(And here is something else to think about. Adam and Eve were prohibited from eating from the Tree, but Christ welcomes us to eat His Flesh.)

I was also thinking about how as Man acquires knowledge, he is then faced with the challenge of using that knowledge for good or evil. And also that there is some knowledge that seems to be inherently evil. And yet it must all arise from the same source of Truth, which is God.

When God expelled Adam and Eve from the Garden, he placed an angel with a flaming sword to guard the Tree of Life.  (Genesis 3:24) The Tree of Life is the other tree in the Garden of Eden that was forbidden. If Man was to eat its fruit then he would have eternal life.

US Air Force: Flaming sword patch from 1946

Providentially, there was an angel with a flaming sword that appeared in the third message of Fatima. It threatened to destroy the world, but Our Lady interceded and kept the angel from setting the world on fire.

Considering that mankind is uncovering the secrets of Life itself through biotechnology, could this angel of Fatima be the same angel described in Genesis that is protecting the Tree of Life?

Common sense says that genetic sciences should be approached with extreme caution. And yet we have plunged headlong into this new science as if it was just another new technology that could be exploited for profit and personal gain.

From contraception, to population control, to eugenics, to IVF, to stem cell research, to cloning, to transhumanism – nothing is declared totally off limits.

Technology is the new idol. Progress is the new goddess.

Painting (1872) titled "American Progress" (notice the telegraph line)

In ancient times the Bible tells us that men built a tower to try to reach Heaven. This was the Tower of Babel which God condemned.

Now, once again we try to be like gods through our technology. We seem headed towards a technological apocalypse called the Singularity. Increasingly it seems that we are no longer masters of our own technology, rather it is technology that has become our master.

UPDATE – June 16, MMXI:

After writing this post I did an online search for 'Jesus' + 'Tree of Knowledge'. I found that Jesus is most associated with the Tree of Life rather than the Tree of Knowledge. Indeed Jesus comes to bring us eternal life. Not wishing to give up on my idea of an association of Jesus with the Tree of Knowledge, I imagine that there is a link through Jesus' statement, "I am the Alpha and the Omega." (Revelation 1:8) So that the Tree of Knowledge becomes the Alpha (the beginning) and the Tree of Life becomes the Omega (the end).

This also fits in well with the fact that Revelation (the last book) speaks of the Tree of Life in the New Jerusalem. (Revelation 22:2) And in the final chapter of Revelation Jesus repeats the statement made in the first chapter of Revelation, "I am the Alpha and the Omega." And this time Jesus adds,  "the first and the last, the beginning and the end."

The next verse from Revelation affirms, "Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the Tree of Life and that they may enter the city by the gates." Clearly this is a reference to Jesus being the Tree of Life which grants eternal life.

The book of Revelation continues, "Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and fornicators and murderers and idolaters, and every one who loves and practices falsehood." The reference to "sorcerers" could very well be applied to some of the scientists of today who claim that God does not exist. I'm thinking specifically of recent statements by Stephen Hawking. This type of statement goes beyond science which must rely on proof and wanders into a practice of pseudo-science which makes claims which are not based on rationalism, but on preconceived beliefs which are inline with ancient sorcerers that conjured up evil spirits to do battle with God.

Anyone who really loves the Truth must understand that there are areas of knowledge that are beyond the limited scope of human science.
And he said to me, "Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near. Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy."

"Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense, to repay every one for what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end."

Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and fornicators and murderers and idolaters, and every one who loves and practices falsehood.

 – Revelation 22:10-15

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