A NEW NOTION OF GOD
Jesus is the pinnacle of revelation, God’s speaking to us. The infinite and unknowable God has told us quite a bit about himself in the humanity of Jesus which the opening of the church in Vatican II to scientific research in the disciplines of history and linguistic studies has brought to the attention of humankind.
The parables of Jesus and his so-called “words” were always part of the gospel narratives, but for centuries remained almost a secondary aspect of his message, overshadowed by the impact of the coming of the Messiah, the Risen Christ. The Jews of Jesus’ time had been waiting for a Savior for many centuries of suffering and Jesus was recognized to be that Savior, a divine emissary of their God, who was expected to appear in glory even in their lifetime. Although in the eyes of the early church the humanity of Jesus had always been fundamental to his message, this initial environment simply eclipsed the fact that his humanity could portray to us the human face of God.
Biblical research begun some 150 years ago has reached almost unanimity in its acceptance of the Quellen (German for source), as an independent source for our knowledge of the parables and “words” of Jesus within the gospel narratives themselves. The Quellen, even though dated by many experts as some 20 to 25 years after the crucifixion with the possible exception of some letters of St. Paul is considered the earliest written source about Jesus. And while Paul’s the Apostle directed his letters primarily to the problems and needs of the communities he had evangelized, the educated, urban cultured Jewish Pharisee would not be interested in the where and how of Jesus the very human peasant from Galilee . In his eyes the historical details of the Palestinian prophet paled in importance to his coming as the culmination of God’s revelation to the Jews and Savior of all of mankind.
Today, after centuries of darkness about the historical Jesus the evolution of our knowledge about his Pre-Easter life as a Palestinian peasant can bring about a spiritually game-changing experience. Although probably unlettered and even never having visited a big city, the very human Jesus invites us to a different type of relationship to God our Creator whom he calls his father (and in another culture, would be mother too). Instead of seeing God as a judge of our observance of laws and religious prescriptions he asks us to work with him and his father to bring about his father’s kingdom on earth, where people live in harmony and treat one another as equals. It is good news, a positive message without threats of recrimination where his father the creator of all is the loving centerpiece of a relationship inviting all his children to live and work under his special care living in harmony as brothers/sisters. In stark contrast to the domination of the Pax Romana Jesus invites us to work with him to establish this Kingdom of God on earth.