N.T. Wright gave a talk at Calvin College entitled The Royal Revolution: Fresh perspectives on the cross that makes me wonder how long it will be before he becomes Catholic. Not sure if he is still popular at the Vatican, but I recall his being invited previously as a well-respected theologian. One thing you have to say about N.T. Wright in his favor: he is not a modernist!
And it is interesting to me how much what he says in this talk was reflected in our liturgy over the Triduum, such as the reading of the Salvation story during the Easter vigil.
The only thing that raises some doubts for me is the way he talks about “the satan principle” as if evil is non personal. But then, what do I know? I’m a journalist not a theologian.
All four gospels make clear one vital point: that Jesus chose Passover to go to Jerusalem and confront the Temple establishment with his radical counter-claim, knowing where it would lead. He didn’t choose Tabernacles or Hannukah; he didn’t choose the Day of Atonement. He chose Passover, because Jesus’ understanding of his own vocation was to accomplish, once and for all, the New Exodus for which Israel had longed. Passover-imagery isn’t just miscellaneous decoration around the edge of an atonement-theory whose real focus is elsewhere. It is the flesh-and-blood reality.
Within the gospels’ recounting of that ultimate Passover, one scene stands out with special poignancy and power. John’s gospel displays deft artistry and fathomless theology throughout, but especially in the footwashing scene in chapter 13. In a few lines we glimpse a tableau both intimate and touching and scary and dangerous. Having begun his gospel with the all-creative Word becoming flesh and revealing God’s glory, John begins the shorter second half with an acted parable of the same thing. Jesus removes his outer garments and kneels down to wash the disciples’ feet, summing up all that is to come in this act of divine humility, of loving redemption, of cleansing for service. For John, as indeed throughout the New Testament, Jesus’ vocation to rescue the world from its plight, and in so doing to reveal the divine glory in action, is focused, symbolized, encoded in an action simultaneously dramatic, fraught with cosmic significance, and gentle, tender with human emotion.
We miss out on so much with impoverished liturgy; with impoverished theology.
Thanks be to God for the fulness of the Catholic faith.