Faith seeking Understanding
During Holy week, as Notre Dame Cathedral was burning, the only words that seemed to comprehend the event were those words to the Hebrews “For here we have no abiding place.” Sometimes we feel the transitoriness of this life so keenly, so that we’re reminded to seek that which is to come. In this life we walk by faith and not by sight. We walk by trial and difficulty through this veil of tears…as Hebrews also says, like Abraham going out “not knowing where he was going.”
The disciples on the road to Emmaus also went out, but in a disappointed, faltering faith—“we had thought he was the one who would redeem all Israel.” This story speaks to us when we find ourselves heartbroken and disappointed in our walk of faith by cleansing our perception and opening our understanding through encountering the Hidden Christ.
God does test our faith doesn’t he? Sometimes we act like faith is the most extraordinary thing in life—like we’re only asked to exercise it when we need to make great heroic leaps where there’s no evidence. But Faith is the ordinary condition of this life as we have to make decisions based on second hand knowledge. Faith is trusting in—assenting to the testimony of someone else.
Of course, we prefer direct apprehension—but from history, to family stories, to financial information, to scientific information, to any relationship—our experience only takes us so far and we have to depend on faith. Faith becomes a surrogate for sight—“Faith is the evidence of things not seen.”
As Hugh of St. Victor, would say, Faith is remedial—it’s part of God’s very plan for saving us through learning to trust in this life. Before we fell, we walked in the Garden face to face with God. And yet, gazing longingly on the tempting fruit we turned away from the direct contemplation of God. Now, Faith is remedial and heals our faulty perception.
We see this in the two disciples leaving Jerusalem—the doors of their perception need cleansed. A stranger draws near, hidden from recognition, and asks them “What is this conversation?” Looking Sad, “Are you the only visitor who doesn’t know?” [Offended] Concerning Jesus of Nazareth. Prophet. Condemned. Crucified. Third day. Woman amazed us, no body, vison, alive. Peter found it so.
Crisis because they’re perceiving a conflict between all these authorities. Pictured in their departure. Turmoil when we don’t know who to trust. [ Chartres?—all on our phone already]
O fools and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Beiginning at Moses.
Faith seeking understanding—Understanding (sunesis) the Gift of the Spirit (Isaiah 11; Revelation 5:6) that Perfects Faith and Penetrates the veil of Revelation. Cleanses the doors of our perception. Paul doesn’t cease praying that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding (Colossians 1:9)…that the Father may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him—the eyes of your heart illumined to know –hope, riches, power (Eph. 1:17.) (Christ in the Temple—they were amazed at his “Understanding” (sunesis).
Understanding cleanses the doors of our perception: Cleansing from Sin so that we are not double-minded. Cleanses from false perceptions so that we don’t confuse appearances for realities. (In areas that particularly relate to Word and Sacrament: parables, images, sacraments and doctrine.) Christ cleanses from false perceptions of the Messiah: ought not the Christ to suffer? Christ himself is the unity of our Faith. (Where have we seen Christ?)
Then he opened their minds to undersand the Scirptures (Luke 24:45)
Faith calls to Jesus: “Abide with us”--We Believe in order to Understand. Then he opens their Understanding in the breaking of the Bread: at the table, he took blessed…”And their eyes were opened and they recognized him; and he vanished out of their sight. [Healed their Faith through Understanding]
Understanding strengthens Faith by giving us a hunger for God. “Didn’t our hearts burn with us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened the scriptures. And they rose up and returned. Encountering the Hidden Christ. O taste and see that the Lord is Good. And they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.
No abiding place but he is our home. Resurrection appearances like the Bride’s pursuit of the Beloved in the Song of Solomon. Cleanse the doors of our perception and penetrate by the Spirit of Understanding through Encountering the Risen Christ in Word and Sacrament. In that he died he died unot sin one, but in that he liveth he liveth unto God,