Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Jesus Christ the Cornerstone

The Fathers get a lot of mileage out of the image of Christ as cornerstone. The best one I've found yet comes from St. Gregory of Nyssa:

"The cornerstone of all becomes our cornerstone, fitting Himself diagonally to the two walls of our life which are built out of our body and soul with elegance and correctness....The beauty of the chief cornerstone sets off our building when our dualistic existence, straight and true, is harmoniously set up according to the right rule of life by the plumb line of the virtues, having nothing in itself that is bent or crooked."

Elsewhere in this passage, it is clear that Gregory sees that a sprituality devoid of any bodily impact is as deficient as one that 'serves the body'.

The notion that Christianity is inherently anti-body is one that is still widely held. Gregory is suggesting that in fact, a failure to appreciate the body and harmonize it with the spirit is a failure to imitate Christ. The idea suggests to me that Christ is exactly what is missing in a dualistic world. Hatred of the body is hatred of its Creator and the One whose Body brought life to the world. So is hatred of the mind and soul.

Footnote: St. Benedict teaches that the body and soul are the sides of ladder to heaven that we ascend by humility and descend by pride. So in a very different context we see a very centrist teacher of the faith insisting on the need for both in salvation. If one side of a ladder is weak or missing, the ladder can't stand.

1 comment:

Shelby said...

All so very interesting.

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If I, who seem to be your right hand and am called Presbyter and seem to
preach the Word of God, If I do something against the discipline of the Church
and the Rule of the Gospel so that I become a scandal to you, The Church, then
may the whole Church, in unanimous resolve, cut me, its right hand, off, and
throw me away.


Origen of Alexandria
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