Athos tagged me and so as I was collecting my thoughts on Jesus I went back to reviewed Pope B16's book, Jesus of Nazareth. What a treasure this book is: speaking on the parable of The Good Samaritan, page 198-199;
"The topical relevance of the parable is evident. When we transpose it into the dimensions of world society, we see how the peoples of Africa, lying robbed and plundered, matter to us. Then we see how deeply they are our neighbors; that our lifestyle, the history in which we are involved, has plundered them and continues to do so. This is true above all in the sense that we have wounded their souls. Instead of giving them God, the God who has come close to us in Christ, which would have integrated and brought to completion all that is precious and great in their own traditions, we have given them the cynicism of a world without God in which all that counts is power and profit, a world that destroys moral standards so that corruption and unscrupulous will to power are taken for granted. And that applies not only to Africa. We do of course have material assistance to offer and we have to examine our own way of life. But we always give too little when we just give only material things."WOW, just look at this: "Instead of giving them God, the God who has come close to us in Christ, which would have integrated and brought to completion all that is precious and great in their own traditions, we have given them the cynicism of a world without God in which all that counts is power and profit, a world that destroys moral standards so that corruption and unscrupulous will to power are taken for granted."
We have Girard's MT spelled out about as clearly as one can get. If we are NOT presenting ourselves, and our 'gifts', in the name of the Transcendent Other we will be coming in the name of the human other(s) which will inevitably work its way into ressentiment and lead to rivalrous situations, scapegoating and violence. On all levels of exchange; of interaction; of relationship this lesson is critical.
The idea of the human experience is totally wrapped up in relationship and we post-Christians have allowed ourselves to be distracted by all sorts of ‘desires’ – I mean here ‘desire’ from a Girardian perspective which is a compulsive, preoccupation with the others – that we have trivialized both, the human experience and relationship. As we have trivialized the human experience and relationship our substantiality – our ontological density wanes and we are prone to fall into greater and greater bouts of ressentiment, double-binds and scapegoating. In the long haul this scandalous spirit is what we pass on to others. So in the case of our aid detached from God to the people of Africa; they may receive a ‘good’ however, they will also assimilate that spirit of the human experience from which it is given.
There is no better way to examine our lifestyle, as recommended by Pope Benedict XVI in the quote above, then through the human experience of a relationship with Jesus who invites us into the life of the Trinity. To be able to enter into relationship with others may be what it means to be made in the image of God. “Relationship is at the heart of the Trinity” is a way of saying relationship is at the heart of who God is. To be in relationship with God is to be IN LIFE, inside the life of the Trinity. Some may say that outside of that relationship nothing exists, but think of it as the gnashing of teeth, because outside of that relationship we fall into this waning of ontological density which leads to ressentiment, rivalry and violence. Jesus, and the God of Abraham and Moses who raised him from the dead – revealing him as the Chosen One of God, and the Spirit of that resurrection let loose on the world is one way to describe the Triune God.
What does relationship look like? Do we see it as a procession characterized by order and dignity, formality, and logical progression? A dance, on the other hand, is joyous, spontaneous, and vital. The God of the Trinity imaged as dance is lively. In dance, life erupts in spontaneous celebration. God invites us into the dance of the Trinity, INTO LIFE!
In our holy history, throughout the Bible, in the life of the Church, in our own lives, we see a Triune God who invites, who crosses the dance floor, who takes us by the hand and draws us into the baptism dance of abundant life. We demur, we protest, we lack rhythm, and we even step on God’s toes. But God persists. The Triune God dignifies and reclaims us by compelling us to join the dance. (Michael A. Van Horn, Homily Service, Serving the Word, 6-2007, adapted)
But wait! Sermons all too often end there with some sentimental or romantic version of the dance. No, the DANCE brings us back to the two great commandments: 1) love God with your whole being and 2) love your neighbor; and so our part, no matter our awkwardness, is to always be inviting others into the DANCE.
Look at what we have here; God who exists in a perfect, tri-personal relationship is the image of the dance, what the Greek theologians have called perichoresis, [peri-CHOR-ee-sis] that dance of the Triune God. But this dance is not merely a description of the Godhead. This dance also describes our participation in the divine life: God invites us to join in the dance, enticing the whole world to enter into the holy life, the holy dance, the holy relationship of Trinity. However if we bring scandal to the relationship through our desire – through a negative compulsive, preoccupation with the other, then we are breaking from the dance – breaking from the relationship with the transcendence and tumbling down into ressentiment and rivalry.
Are we giving too little of ourselves in the way we have attempted to bring relief to our sisters and brothers in Africa? Giving of ourselves and our material aid – giving in this spirit of dance - in relationship is what the Church and particularly Pope Benedict XVI is prescribing and it is in this spirit of relationship that we grow in substantiality – in ontological density. And this spirit of relationship acts as a wave of faith, hope and love to envelope other relationships – other cultures and here we begin to envision true peace – the New Jerusalem can be seen descending from heaven to earth (Revelation 21:1-4; Revelation 22:1-3).
When I googled "perichoresis dance" this Rublev icon of The Trinity came up most frequently. So I end with how Gil Bailie closed his post Abraham, the father of faith which was a reflection on this same icon:
As the German poet, Rilke, said at the conclusion of his poem, Archaic Torso of Apollo:
. . . there is no place on it
that does not see you. You must change your life.