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Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Authority and Reason

Today's Gospel reading (Luke 4:31-37) relates the amazement of the Lord's audience at his authority to teach and command. He taught at the synagogue with authority, and he commanded the unclean spirit to depart the man it was afflicting. Behind all this is the divine power which is God's alone; I think divinity is the basis for authority. Perhaps it is not too much of a stretch to consider that it is also the basis for reason, for what can be rational if it is not based on unassailable, perfect, eternal (and thus divine) Truth? What can be logical if it is not based on objective and true premises?

The commentary cited by DailyGospel.org from Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) is worth repeating here:

  Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger [Pope Benedict XVI]
Lenten sermons 1981
"What is there about his word?"

The moment that the Bible calls «the beginning» points us to the One who had the power to create what is and to say: «Let there be...!» and it was (Gen 1,1-3)... That phrase «Let there be..!» did not bring mindless chaos into existence. The more we get to understand the universe, the more we discover a rationality in it whose ways, interpenetrated by thought, amaze us. Through them we find again that creator Spirit to whom we, too, owe our reason. Albert Einstein wrote that the laws of nature: «Manifest so superior a reason that all other rationality of human thought and will seem, by comparison, to be an absolutely insignificant reflection of it.»

We note that the infinitely great universe of stars is ruled by the power of Reason [Logos]. But we learn even more concerning this from the infinitely small, the cell, the fundamental elements of living things. There, too, we discover a rationality that astonishes us, so that we have to say with Saint Bonaventure: «Anyone who cannot see this is blind. Anyone who cannot hear it is deaf. And anyone who does not start praying and praising the Creator Spirit at this point, is dumb»...

Through creation's rationality, God himself confronts us. Physics, biology, all the sciences generally, have offered us an account of the new and unheard of creation. Such great, new images help us to know the Creator's face. They remind us, yes, that in the beginning, and in the depth of every being, stands the Creator Spirit. The world has not issued forth from darkness and absurdity. It resonates intelligence, freedom, the beauty that is love. Seeing all this gives us the courage that makes living possible and makes us able to take up confidently on our shoulders the adventure of life.

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