‘He spake the word, and they were made’ (Ps. 148.5). But to redeem that creation which sprang into being at His word, how much He spake, what wonders He wrought, what hardships He endured, what shames He suffered! Therefore what reward shall I give unto the Lord for all the benefits which He hath done unto me? In the first creation He gave me myself; but in His new creation He gave me Himself, and by that gift restored to me the self that I had lost. Created first and then restored, I owe Him myself twice over in return for myself. But what have I to offer Him for the gift of Himself? Could I multiply myself a thousand-fold and then give Him all, what would that be in comparison with God?
St. Bernard of Clairvaux (2009-06-11). On Loving God – Enhanced Version (Kindle Locations 287-292). Christian Classics Ethereal Library. Kindle Edition.
I walk early in the day mostly between 4 and 5. I am usually left to my own devices so I pray and while I pray I walk and while I pray and walk I listen to some book. To pray while listening to a book may seem contradictory but would you believe the text of the book often becomes the word of the Lord to my soul. It was so this past Tuesday. I walked a bit after five am and listened to On Loving God – by Saint Bernard of Clairvaux. Abbot Bernard wrote this little book at the request of a Cardinal Deacon of the Roman Church who sought his counsel as to living the Christian life. As is often the case, I gain insight from the teaching of a Christian from another time. Such instruction is often synchronistic for as I begin to explore, pertinent material seems to come to me as much as I seek it out. Such is the case with this work.
When the earliest Christians read their scriptures they were looking for Jesus and found him on every page. Of particular interest was typology where a type, a person or an event in the Old Testament is in some sense repeated in the New Testament (the antitype) only with greater clarity and completeness. For almost a year I have wandered in the sacred texts finding types & antitypes. In some cases the connection seems tenuous but even then provocative.
In the text above Bernard points out a fairly obvious example of type and antitype. Creation is the type. In Creation God gives us ourselves. This is a gift that we find onerous at times. Someone has said that humanity demands freedom only to promptly give it away almost as soon as they grasp it. The events of Genesis 3 displays how recklessly our grandparents, Eve and Adam, lost the gift by attempting to control the gift and to possess what can only exist as gift..
They stumbled and fell. (Joseph Campbell says, “Where you fall is where your treasure is buried.” I want to consider that more at a later time.) The “fall” some say was up which is a contradiction but as the truth lives in the country of paradox, the contradictions strain toward the way of grace. When we humans, all of us, lost the gift of ourselves God acted. And the type of Creation moves toward its consummation in its antitype of redemption.
Saint John elegantly lays it out for us in the prologue to his Gospel. Now, that we have blown it, walked in and dwelt in deep darkness so that up is down and down is up and just when we are totally disoriented suddenly a light shines. The eternal word became flesh. In creation God gave us ourselves now in the incarnation God gives us himself. Jesus came to tell us who God is. The important to know is that God is like Jesus. Jesus is the example of authentic humanity and he is the means by which we are redeemed and restored to full humanity. Type and Anitype produce joy! JWS+