Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Yearnings of the Pre-Christian World

What did the Pre-Christian world have to say about our Lord and Savior? Interesting question for an era (outside the Jews) to ponder on. Archbishop Fulton Sheen has a great reflection on the Greek world prior to the coming of Christ. Here is an excerpt taken from "Life is Worth Living", a series by Archbishop Fulton Sheen. “The Yearnings of the Pre-Christian World” Very often we call something modern because we do not know what is ancient; many so-called “modern” ideas are really old errors with new labels. We owe greater debt to the past than is generally recognized. The waters of ancient cultures are constantly washing our shores. One of the greatest epic poets who ever lived was Homer, whom Plato called the educator of the Greeks. Homer wrote two great works, one called the Iliad and the other the Odyssey. The Iliad ends with the story of a defeated king and the Odyssey with the story of a sorrowful woman…Great classical scholars have wondered why Homer threw into the current of literature the story of a king who was made great in defeat and a woman glorious in sadness and tragedy. Greek philosophy was concerned with answering this question…It was impossible for all the Greek philosophers to understand how there could be victory in defeat, how there could be nobility in suffering. There was really no answer given to this problem until the day of Calvary , when a defeated man hanging on a Cross ultimately became the conqueror, and a Mater Dolorosa at the foot of the Cross became the Queen of Christendom. Over 500 years before the Christian era lived the great dramatist Aeschylus, who wrote Prometheus Bound. Prometheus is pictured as bound to a rock because he had stolen fire from heaven. An eagle comes and devours his entrails – a symbol of modern man, whose heart is being devoured, not by an eagle, but by anxiety and fear. For these thousands of years mankind had been yearning for some kind of deliverance; that aspiration found its answer in the speech of Hermes to Prometheus, “Look not for any end… to this curse, until some God appears to accept upon his head, the pangs of thy own sins…” …At another time, Socrates said, “Wait! Wait for a wise man who is to come, who will tell us how we are to conduct ourselves before God and man.” [Socrates’ student], Alcibiades said, “I am ready to do all He desires. When will He come?” Socrates said, “I know not when, but I know that He also desires your good.” (Life is Worth Living, Sheen, pg. 29-31) B.A.P. Reflection: Just like the Greeks awaited the coming of the Christ and were ready to do all He desires, so we should use this penitential time of Advent to prepare ourselves for the season of Christmas – which is a reminder that the Redeemer has come and will come again. Even more than the Greeks, since we have received His grace in the Sacraments, we should be ready to do all He desires. (Hat Tip: a friend)

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

another example of Christians being full-of-themselves

the view that everyone really does believe in Jesus, that just have to accept it, the view that even those that pre-date Christianity really were Christians and yearned for Jesus

how conceited!

Ben said...

I think, Anonymous, that you should give at least a pseudonym to your ramblings.

We belive in XYZ. We really think it's true. We OF COURSE will see reflections of that same XYZ ideal stirring in all people. If we didn't, we wouldn't think XYZ is true.

XYZ can be: Christianity, Buddhism, Atheism, Islam, WHATEVER.

It's not conceited, it's just consistant.

Tito said...

Anon,

Man has internal yearning for God. Even Socrates identified that there is a Creator. He never said "Jesus", but we can all identify clearly whom he was thinking about without mentioning His name.

Anonymous said...

no Tito, man does not have an internal yearning for (your definition of) God, that is your dogma speaking

man has an internal yearning to understand the world in which he lives and his place in it yes, but to assign "God" as the viewpoint to which to understand the world as being the only one is conceited

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