Orlando and the Sermon on the Mount

Our heavenly Father makes the sun rise on the bad and the good. He makes the rain fall on the just and the unjust. (see Matthew 5:45)

I think meditating on these words will offer us Americans a salve, some balm in Gilead. Here in Hokie Nation, we suffer from special ghosts whenever someone shoots a building-full of innocent people.

tombstone crossLet’s meditate on what Lord Jesus means. He follows His command for us to love our enemies with the assertion that the Father shines His sun on the just and unjust alike, and pours rain on good and bad.

1. God has enemies. To set yourself against an omnipotent Opponent involves absurd self-delusion, to be sure. But Satan and his servants have done it, and God has enemies among the children of Adam and Eve, too.

Some of us sin through weakness, or through confusion—because we human beings tend to be muddled messes. But some of us sin through deliberate choice. Some have freely chosen to embrace a lie, or a half-truth, or selfishness plain and simple—and have given over to it completely. Enemies of God.

2. God loves His enemies. He wills their good. He has a plan for healing everything. So: time marches on, and the sun doesn’t explode, and Christ doesn’t come riding back on the clouds just yet. He patiently waits for everyone to choose the truth and live in humble love.  Even the hardened sinners, His enemies.

3. Our heavenly Father does not make the sun shine equally on just and unjust alike because He doesn’t care, doesn’t see any difference, makes no judgments. To the contrary: God judges like nobody’s business. God judges so precisely, so meticulously, so penetratingly, that any honest man can and must tremble at the prospect.

All truth will out. For now the sun may shine on a man with a darkened heart just as brightly as it shines on a man with a humble one. But what lies hidden will be revealed. In God’s time.

4. What God cares about is people’s souls. He cares about our bodies, too, of course. He hardly wills the death of the human body. He put us in Eden originally to live forever. But He allows fallen man to die, because it serves His wise plan for gathering souls to Himself.

Now, we Christians have something, which I think we tend to take for granted, but which we really must consciously cultivate in ourselves, so that we can teach the world.

We presume that we are all in this together. That one, same God shines the sun and rains the rain on us all—the one Father. We presume that all people are God’s children. We start from: human solidarity.

I don’t mean to be morbid or harsh when I call this fact of history to mind. But: the idea that no one should arbitrarily kill a building-full of people of whom he disapproves—the idea that everyone has a right to live in peace, free from the threat of spontaneous violence—that idea is a fruit of the coming of Christ. Our shock, and sadness, and confusion—it is a fruit of the coming of Christ.

In the ancient pagan world, people killed each other like this all the time. Such killings did not shock. They didn’t use machine guns, of course. They used machetes, or swords, or set fires, or just lined people up at spear point and then slit their throats.

The sense of universal human brotherhood–it does not come naturally to fallen man. What comes naturally is: We are good, but they are bad, and they deserve to die if they make nuisances of themselves.

That is not the way God is. Lord Jesus has taught us. God loves all His children. And He wills our good. He sends rain when we need rain. And the sun when we need cheering-up.

Rhyme nor Reason

Our beloved late Holy Father’s bones are resting immediately adjacent to St. Peter’s bones for Rome’s “White Night” tonight…

Comedy of Errors
…Yesterday evening “As You Like It” trafficked a nearby stage… Did William Shakespeare coin the phrase, “neither rhyme nor reason?”

No. He did, however, popularize it immensely in “The Comedy of Errors.” Poor Dromio laments his master’s severity:

Was there ever any man thus beaten out of season,
When in the why and the wherefore is neither rhyme nor reason?

End of story? No, because the Bard used the phrase again in “As You Like It:”

But are you so much in love as your rhymes speak?

Neither rhyme nor reason can express how much.

Notice something?

In this second instance, the famous phrase does not have the same meaning.

Generally we use “neither rhyme nor reason” to connote the utter absence of intelligibility. For instance, “His so-called strategy for clustering his parishes proceeded with neither rhyme nor reason! Now everyone regards him as a loose cannon.”

Dromio employed the phrase to sound this note of chaotic arbitrariness.

But Orlando uses the phrase in a completely different way. The phrase “neither rhyme nor reason” stands not for a threshold of intelligibility BELOW WHICH something has fallen; rather, it indicates the meager limit of human words’ power to communicate, ABOVE WHICH extends an immeasurable realm of intelligible truth and light.