It’s easy when one is working fulltime for the Church or studying theology or sharing opinions on the Catholic blogosphere (do all of you have jobs?) to get caught up in minutiae and the controversies of the moment and lose sight of the Big Picture or forget just how remarkable the Big Picture really is. (And just so we’re clear, when I say, “Big Picture,” I mean, “The Gospel.”)
Last week, after slop buckets of minutiae, a few frustrations, and a futile circle or two, I decided I needed a day off the reservation (literally). So I pulled on my jeans and my cowboy boots and grabbed a volume of Greek tragedies (you can take the nerd out of the university, but you can’t take the nerdiness out of the nerd) and drove down to Valentine, Nebraska to sit on the porch of Auntie D’s Coffee Shop and read Aeschylus in the late-September warmth, as trucks full of hay bales drove past on Main Street.
Aeschylus is not a bad writer, I’d say, and at times quite insightful. What he says about tyrants is as true today as it was in 500 BC:
This is a sickness rooted and inherent in the nature of a tyranny: that he that holds it does not trust his friends.
The strange thing about these words, however, is that they were not written about Josef Stalin or Kim Jong-il. The tyrant thus described is Zeus, King of the Gods.
But you have asked on what particular
charge he now tortures me: this I will tell you.
As soon as he ascended to the throne
that was his father’s, straightway he assigned
to the several Gods their several privileges
and portioned out the power, but to the unhappy
breed of mankind he gave no heed, intending
to blot the race out and create a new.
Earlier in the week, I was teaching a class for those seeking to enter into full communion with the Church, and one of the men in the class asked, “What is ‘John 3:16’? Why do you see that written all over?”
So I told him to look the passage up and read what it says:
For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
Isn’t that remarkable?