Christ as a Philosopher: Spe Salvi

Towards the end of the third century, on the sarcophagus of a child in Rome, we find for the first time, in the context of the resurrection of Lazarus, the figure of Christ as the true philosopher, holding the Gospel in one hand and the philosopher's travelling staff in the other. With his staff, he conquers death; the Gospel brings the truth that itinerant philosophers had searched for in vain. In this image, which then became a common feature of sarcophagus art for a long time, we see clearly what both educated and simple people found in Christ: he tells us who man truly is and what a man must do in order to be truly human. He shows us the way, and this way is the truth. He himself is both the way and the truth, and therefore he is also the life which all of us are seeking. He also shows us the way beyond death; only someone able to do this is a true teacher of life

I love his reference to the early church, which is here even pre-Constantinian, which is important for all those folks who think (incorrectly) that COnstantine somehow corrupted the church when he made Christianty the religion of the Roman Empire in the 4th C.

I also love the mention of Christ as a philosopher. This is a great encyclical. I think he honestly grapples with the world today.

And finally, his story of Bakhita who believed in Jesus, who was a slave-woman from Sudan--am I the only one who noticed that she was quite possibly Muslim by birth? I mean, she could have been animist, but she could have been Muslim as well (I will check into this, btw).

I am not finished with the entire encyclical yet, but what I have read (including the discussion of Luther's interpretation of Hebrews 11:1) I really like.

This is a very intelligent encyclical, and quite edifying for this Christian who happens to not be Roman Catholic.


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