June 4, 2017
A man who is not one of my theological heroes has written a book which I will probably not read. But the title has been rolling around in my head as a statement too profound to let it pass – I am because of you.
There was a time when I said any relationship needed only six phrases to survive: Hello/Good bye; Please/Thanks; I’m sorry/You’re forgiven. After all, there are not many junctures in a relationship when one or another of these is not appropriate. But they are, actually, just expressions of the ups and downs, ins and outs of a relationship, any relationship.
I am because of you says that everything in life is a relationship and there is no individual or individuated self apart from some connection or other. This phrase is the ‘vernacular’ of another favorite title by a favorite author being is communion. It says that its opposite – I am because of me – is a lie and a living death.
The because is wonderful. It looks to the past when something happened that made me what I am. It looks, too, to the future and what we will be together. The you could be singular or plural; and it could be God (in which case singular only) or human.
More fun still: you can have it say because of you I am because of you I am because of you just like A rose is a rose is a rose …!
But it is not just grammatically a treat.
Theologians have talked about Jesus for decades now as The Man for Others. This is an extension of the notion that it was for us men and for our salvation (listen for it in the Creed we say at Mass) that the whole Incarnation/Cross/Resurrection romance occurred. And that, of course, makes us, as sharers in the life of Jesus, people for others. Because of you – we say to Jesus -- we are – because of you – we say to the world.
One more treat: Because of you, I am says God the Father to God the Son. This is in the nature of fatherhood. Because of you I am says God the Son to God the Father. This is in the nature of Sonship. And when they say this because of you with one breath, that Breath becomes the Holy Spirit, the living because of you-ness who creates the world and forms the Church to be the continuation of the Son-ship shared with us in the Man for others.
And, of course, there is that whole business of my vocation. I am priest/pastor/whatever because of you.
Really and truly and for the best of reasons yours,