Friday, February 1, 2013
I know, I am a day early! Yesterday in my Catholic Jurisprudence class, we discussed Lorenzo Albacete and Benedict Ashley's chapters in Recovering Self-Evident Truths: Catholic Perspectives on American Law. Albacete frames his theological anthropology around Blessed John Paul II's Theology of the Body. Albacete writes that Genesis' account of the fall
shows that the need for another expressed in original solitude becomes an aversion to otherness and the desire to re-create the world to overcome this fear through power and manipulation. Original unity is lost as a result, and we feel the need to be protected from others with whom we have no choice to unite for certain purposes. Indeed, in many instances our perception of the other as other is in fact lost, and all we see is a reflection of our interests, the 'looking with lust" in Jesus' condemnation of adultery. Original nakedness is replaced by shame and distrust of the body as an apt vehicle of communication, making it instead an object for domination
leading to "radical alienation." But, we are called to higher things.
Human personhood is in fact a capacity for, and a call to, a communion of mutual self-surrender between persons, a communion of love. This capacity and call to communion is what distinguishes the human person from the animals. It is in this capacity and call that we discover what it means to be created in the "image of God." Amazingly, it is the human experience of bodiliness, of our material dimension, that reveals that we are called to personal fulfillment by engaging in a relationship with the Mystery of God at the origin and destiny of our existence.
Next week we will discuss Avery Cardinal Dulles' chapter, Truth as the Ground of Freedom.
So what does any of this have to do with Ground Hog Day? I have a simple brain, and it always helps me to see things in simple terms. As I read Albacete and anticipate Dulles, Bill Murray's character in Ground Hog Day came to mind. As he relives February 2 over and over again, Murray's character uses his power (knowledge of the day's events) to manipulate and use others as objects of domination. This isn't satisfying, and in his radical alienation he spends several February 2's unsuccessfully trying to kill himself. It is only when he learns what freedom is truly for and begins to live his life as gift for others that the calendar turns to February 3. Happy Ground Hog Day!