Monday, May 05, 2008

You only have to die

Went to see John, His Story at the theater last Saturday night. It was performed by Jeanette Clift George’s A D Players from Houston and was uber well done; her take on The Gospel of John in one act. Part of it really got me to thinking “outside the box”, as I am wont to do from time to time. In the 3rd chapter of John, Christ says: “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” I understand that conventional wisdom says this speaks to Baptism and is in fact the basis for that Sacrament.

A while back I also started a post on Robert Farrar Capon's Kingdom, Grace and Judgement that I never got around to finishing. I was struck by Capon’s thoughts regarding salvation. He emphasizes, more than once, the point that: "Death is absolutely all of the Resurrection we can now know. The rest is faith."

Which put into my head the song lyric: "You only have to die." Took me a good half hour to recall where that music was from. I kept thinking of a James Bond movie, but finally realized it's in Jesus Christ, Superstar, one of my favorite musicals. I continue to be awed by the profundity of Rice and Weber's music and lyrics, as I am likewise by Fr. Capon's theology.

I think where I'm going with this is that we are frequently blind to the true teachings of grace. No one, I repeat NO ONE, is going to make it:
1.) on their own works. It doesn't matter how good we are, we are all still sinful.
2.) without dying, accepting death, our actual physical death, in this world.
Both of those statements seem to be absolute truth.

What Capon was emphasizing is not live for today because tomorrow you have as good a shot as anyone at justification; but rather, that God found His creation so wonderful that He was willing to undertake the ultimate sacrifice to redeem it. For in truth, only He was capable of meeting the requirement of a perfect sacrifice.

Which finally brings me back to “being born again.” What do you suppose was John’s thought regarding that particular passage? An injunction to practice Baptism or rather possibly that only by the acceptance of physical death as we know it are we able to be born again into new life.

Quien sabe? “You only have to die.”


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