Originality

I want to be the least original person I can be.

Peter Kreeft, the famous Catholic philosopher, said that Jesus was the least original person ever born because he said, “…I do nothing on my own authority but speak thus as the Father taught me.” (John 8:28)

So, “he must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30), that my pride and sinfulness (the “original” things I come up with) may not get in the way of God’s mercy and love He seeks to bestow on me and others through me.

Christ said, “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). This means no Christian can take boast of his good works, because it is Christ who works through him (that explains why humility is seeing the truth for what it is). That’s why even Mother Theresa described herself as “…a little pencil in the hand of a writing God who is sending a love letter to the world.” We are HIs instruments, and not the author. Only when we are least original, we can be the most creative.

When we realise this, when we acknowledge our weakness and emptiness, we can let ourselves be dependent on God be strong and blessed with abundance. St. John of the Cross puts it in an enlightened way: “That you may have pleasure in everything, seek pleasure in nothing. That you may know everything, seek to know nothing. That you may possess all things, seek to possess nothing. That you may be everything, seek to be nothing.” I’ve always said that Christianity is a religion of paradoxes!

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5 thoughts on “Originality”

  1. Hi Pedrito,

    A nice ‘blog you’ve got there. I like the title too! 🙂

    Yes, it may well be. A spiritual fire can either induce pain or set hearts aflame.

    It’s true that the children of the modern world may well find the concept of “dying to self” perplexing and even repugnant. On the other hand though, I do find hope in the fact that they are every bit as human as any Saints. I think the key is to find the openings their human nature provides (while accounting for the influences of the world, flesh and the devil). Challenge to be radical, to perfect oneself and the world, is in itself very exciting and appealing to human nature, which can only seek what it sees as good (according to Aquinas, I think). It just has to be communicated on their level, through a “translation engine” as it were. A bit like Babel Fish, except that (unlike such translation engines) a soul with its will, intellect and humanity requires a fellow soul (adept in the language) to communicate it which, I think, is why the Church exists.

  2. Obviously so. However, I think that in our times (as in times past) the Church has had its image tarnished, its apparent authority dampened by its own iniquities and sin. To me, this is far more tragic than the individual wrong decisions of a person seeking (as I think most are). Because the person has not been given good instruction by those to whom much is given.

    This brings to mind for me the parable of Matthew 18:6 in which Christ says that whoever causes little ones who believe in Him to stop believing would be better off dead. I think there is a very real burden placed on clergy and others who have been tasked with “feeding His sheep”. Not that that excuses us from inaction or rather humility in our discipleship, but it does make one recognize the immense spiritual problems that arise from a clergy that has bought into an “originality” of its own.

  3. It’s true, the clergy has such a responsibility that I shudder to think they may not realise it. Didn’t St. Athanasius, referring to the Arianists say, “the floor of hell is paved with the skulls of bishops”? Even allowing for exaggeration, it’s a danger worth meditating on. We must pray for our priests and Bishops! Kyrie eleison.

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