The Jews took up stones again to stone Jesus. He replied, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these are you going to stone me?” The Jews answered, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you, but for blasphemy, because you, though only a human being, are making yourself God.” Jesus answered, “Is it not written in your law, 'I said, you are gods'? If those to whom the word of God came were called 'gods' – and the scripture cannot be annulled – can you say that the one whom the Father has sanctified and sent into the world is blaspheming because I said, 'I am God's Son'? If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me. But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.” Then they tried to arrest him again, but he escaped from their hands.
“If I am not doing the works of my Father then do not believe me.” Talking about God is not enough, even when it is Jesus who is talking. This is the greatest challenge to every preacher and every professor of theology. Christians often talk about “the Christian message” as if it could be written on a piece of paper. The Word was made flesh, not ink. St Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “You are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone, but on the tablets of the human heart” (2 Corinthians 3:3).
The word ‘orthopraxis’ was coined to supplement ‘orthodoxy’. Orthodoxy means ‘right teaching’; orthopraxis would mean ‘right action’. Our words have to become flesh too: to reach our fingertips, so to speak. “What good is it,” wrote St James, “if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food: if one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” (James 2:14-17).
Meister Eckhart said, “When St Paul spoke a great deal to our Lord, and our Lord to him, this availed him nothing till he abandoned his will and said: ‘Lord, what do you want me to do?’ (Acts 9:6). Then our Lord knew well what he should do. So too, when the angel appeared to our Lady: nothing that she or he said to one another could have made her the mother of God, but as soon as she gave up her will, at once she became a true mother of the eternal Word and conceived God straight away: he became her natural son.”
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