Not the Help That Creation Expected

. . . Might not Incarnation be his response not to the incidental irregularity of sin but to the unhelpable presence of badness in creation?  Perhaps in a world where, for admittedly inscrutable reasons, victimization is the reverse coin of being, his help consists in his continuous presence in all victims. 

At any rate, when he finally does show up in Jesus, that is how it seems to work. His much-heralded coming to put things to rights ends badly.  When the invisible hand that holds the stars finally does its triumphant restoring thing, it does nothing at all but hang there and bleed.  That may well be help: but it’s not the Band-Aid that creation expected on the basis of mechanical analogies. 

The only way it makes any sense is when it’s seen as personal:  when we are helpless, there he is.  He doesn’t start your stalled car for you; he comes and dies with you in the snow bank……His presence in the victims of the world – his presence in the cases where even his best is none too good – is still the presence of the Word who romances all things into being.  Stuck out there in the snowdrift, you may feel that he should be doing something more than just trying to make out at a time like this, but he obviously doesn’t see it that way.  He knows the home truth that grief and love-making are only inches apart. 

In his own dying, while he hangs helpless on the cross, he still, as the eternal Word, flatters nails into being nails, wood into being wood, and flesh into being flesh.  Love is as strong as death; there may be waters God does not overcome, but there are no waters that can drown the loving of the Word . . .

It is, I grant you, such an incredible piece of business that no one can be faulted for not believing it.  There is no proof, only odd signs that are even more obscure than Jesus himself: a little water, a little bread, a little wine.  But, if you decide to believe it, what must be done is clear enough: you tend the signs and adore the Mystery as best you can; you join your victimization to his; and you say, Jesus, I love, I love you, till you finally run out of breath. And then, if should all happen to be true . . .

Robert Farrar Capon in The Third Peacock