Fr. James just married this couple at St. Juliana Parish
Letters from a Pastor to His People- August 4, 2019
In most of my political science and philosophy courses from college and seminary Plato's The Republic was discussed. The part that received the most attention was the allegory of the cave. I won't go into detail, but the gist of the "cave" (and platonic philosophy in general) is that there are forms above. That is, everything on this earth is but a shadow of something higher, in the supernatural or metaphysical realm. There is a deeper or higher meaning to what we see in existence. For Plato and Socrates, living well means living with these higher forms in mind; not narrowing our vision only to things before us.
Aristotle, another ancient Greek philosopher, succeeded Plato and held the opposite view. The forms, if they even exist, don't matter. What matters is, well, matter: the particulars on this earth. To Aristotle, we should focus on what is before us and analyze it. If you've ever seen Raphael's School of Athens painting, you see Plato pointing to the sky and Aristotle pointing to the earth. This captures the varying philosophies.
Most philosophers, including theologians, lean in Aristotle's direction. I'd like to, at least for this bulletin letter, lean in Plato's direction.
Saint Paul tells the Colossians, "Think of what is above, not of what is on earth" (Colossians 3:2). This is an amazing passage of sacred scripture. Paul was a philosopher. He knew Greek philosophy, including Plato and Aristotle, and had read The Republic, I'm sure. Who knows, maybe he was rereading it when he wrote this letter. This is known as one of the four "captivity letters." Paul wrote it to the community in Western Turkey while he was imprisoned in Rome. He was under house arrest, so perhaps he spent his time reading some philosophy. And the Colossians, close to Greece, likewise would have probably known Greek philosophy. So, Paul tells them, "if you were raised with Christ, seek what is above." Don't get caught up too much in earthly matters, he's saying. Everything has a higher purpose, some spiritual meaning.
It's a challenge that resides with us today. Everything you do has a purpose in God's eyes. The key for us is to discern just what that spiritual purpose is.
For instance, if you are caring for your parent with Alzheimer's in a nursing home, the task for you (at least, one of the tasks) is to see how God is guiding you and your parent in the illness. It's not only about the day-to-day battle and the concrete particulars: Alzheimer's, doctors, the nursing home room, appointments, etc. It's about your parent continuing Christ's work of redemption, you growing in mercy and patience, genuine love coming about on this earth as a child cares for his ailing parent. That's the "what is above." That's the "higher form" of Plato.
"For you have died," says Paul, "and your life is hidden with Christ in God" (Colossians 3:3). Think about this philosophical concept here. We are hidden with Christ. That is, we are the particular on this earth; Christ is our form. We are the shadow of Christ. We make Christ manifest on this earth, if we can keep our focus on what is above.
Tape that scripture quote from Colossians 3:3 on your mirror, on your computer monitor, on the back of your iPhone, wherever. You have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. There's no better philosophy to live by than what it is contained in that profound statement!
All are invited on Wednesday, August 14th at 6pm to view the new STEAM Lab and Courtyard in the school building. We have been hard at work over the summer with these projects, which couldn't have been completed without your generosity from last year's Gala and other fundraising efforts!
Yours in Christ,