Consecrated to the Heart of the Redeemer under the patronage of the Theotokos and Fr. Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J.

10 January 2013

Returning to the Source

The readings for this Christmastide Weekday deliver a one-two punch of humility.  My belligerence must be worn down somehow, and there is no better pugilist than the Lord Himself: "The LORD, your God, who goes before you, is the one who will fight for you, just as he acted with you before your very eyes in Egypt" (Dt 1:30).  

"What's to fight about, who's to fight against?"  Things as they are; me as I am.  Sometimes I spend a fair amount of energy wondering (read: sulking) about why The Shipwrack-Harvest isn't among the blogosphere's best.  Now let's not try to improve the situation, by writing daily, providing more links in articles, covering more timely and (gasp!) controversial topics (or for that matter, more personal, human- and divine-interest stories)!

Here as always, beating my sword into a plowshare (Is 2:4) is the best line of offense.  I will offend the devil, for starters, because he is hell-bent on my dissolution, and he's crafty enough to use something as silly as a blog to accomplish it.  "See!  See!  You can't handle everything on your plate the way it is, and you wanted to start a blog.  Now other areas of your ministry aren't as strong as they'd been, and..."

Oh, what about today's Scripture readings?

Well, there's the paradigmatic passage from Luke 4: Jesus enters the synagogue of Nazareth, this time to read and preach the prophet Isaiah (61:1-2).  Jesus reads the Word of God to the assembly, and "the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him" (Lk 4:20).  That's because He just read the Word of God, for which people have an insatiable hunger.  People may claim not to care for theological commentary and magisterial application, but these (especially the latter) are more than seasonings sprinkled on an otherwise nourishing dish.  Rather the Church's Tradition (which to some extent includes the history of theological gloss) and the Magisterium are staples of the faithful Catholic's diet just as much as Sacred Scripture.
If we were to extend this gastronomic metaphor a bit to say that Scripture, Tradition, and Magisterium are like carbohydrates, protein, and fats--all very much necessary for spiritual health--we'd probably be going far afield of our current topic.  ("Dammit Jim--I'm a priest, not a dietician!")
The eyes looked intently; the shepherdless sheep were hungry for teaching (cf. Mk 6:34).  They hadn't suspected that Jesus would feed them Himself: "Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing."  You're looking at the Source of what you just heard.

Here's a case of God revealing Himself within human history with all the fanfare of carbon monoxide, or, as C. S. Lewis put it, slipping "clandestinely, behind enemy lines."  The Eternal Word speaks in human words, and now--what?--manifests in human flesh!

 Now burn, new born to the world,        265
            Doubled-naturèd name,
        The heaven-flung, heart-fleshed, maiden-furled
    Mid-numbered He in three of the thunder-throne!
    Not a dooms-day dazzle in his coming nor dark as he came;        270
        Kind, but royally reclaiming his own;
A released shower, let flash to the shire, not a lightning of fire hard-hurled.

(Hopkins, Wreck of the Deutschland, st. 34)

The Word of Love--it's not our bright idea, says John in his first letter: "We love God because he first loved us."  The secular arm of a humanist culture erects statues of itself on the boulevards; but we Christians find the wellsprings of salvation outside of ourselves, though the waters certainly flow therein.

What for the more subtle temptations to rely on unaided human strength?  Take, for example, the angst expressed above concerning this very blog.  I take this opportunity to reaffirm the Lord as the primary Motive and Content for Ship-Har.  With that plan of action, more eyes may look more intently...and maybe not in the form of "hits" on this site, but on Him.


  1. Amen! Thanks for keeping on... Any blog that can praise God with the help of Hopkins is my kind of blog.

  2. I am glad to know of it, believe me. God bless!