Permit me to go in this post from serious sublimity, to silly stretching. But I saw a car ad the other day and recalled an insight of how God saves us. “How one earth?” you may say. Well, on the Feast of the Triumph of the Holy Cross lets look….
Let me begin with the sublime. And for that I turn to Archbishop Fulton J Sheen. Many years ago (more than 25) I got a series of 24 cassette tapes. They were wonderful recordings of a set of instructions he prepared for converts to the Catholic Faith. If you have never heard of that series you can find it here: A Sheen Catechism.
In this series, Archbishop Sheen made an insightful point that I am relating to you from memory. I beg mercy if I do not quote him exactly, but his point related to soteriology, the theology of how we are saved. Now to be clear, we are saved by the obedience of Christ. But not all the consequences of our sinful choice were eliminated. Some of these consequences the Lord takes up as a means to save us. It is of these consequences that Archbishop Sheen sepaks. Again, what I relate is not verbatim but is as close as I can remember:
Consider that God were conducting a great symphony, a symphony that He Himself composed, of sublime beauty. Now suppose he wrote that symphony in the Key of A. Having assembled His orchestra God brings them to attention and begins the symphony. But suppose in the front row, the first and second violinists, filled with a sense of rebellion and boredom by the third measure, insisted on playing the note A-Flat, rather than the A-natural called for by the score. This of course created a terrible dissonance. And so God, the great conductor and composer brought the orchestra to a halt by tapping his baton. Looking to the first and second violinists, he said, “My symphony has been ruined. I will forgive but the note has sounded and gone forth. It will not be recalled. So, what was that note you played?” The first and second violinists said “A-Flat!” “Fine then,” said God, “Let us begin our new Symphony in the key of A-Flat.” And raising his baton, he began.…
What is Archbishop Sheen saying here? He is saying that in saving us, God does not merely undo or cancel every effect of our choice. Jesus does obey, saying yes to the Father, whereas we had said no and hence we are saved by his obedience. But God does not merely come in and say, well, you got that wrong so I am just going to reverse everything you did and put it back to the way I want it. There is a very deep reverence that our all-powerful God has for our freedom we had to chose in this sense. And so he chooses to write straight with the crooked lines, the consequences of our sinful choice.
What then does God do? Using Sheen’s analogy he takes our “A-Flat,” the consequences of our choice and uses it as the key note in a new symphony. In other words, though God had given life, and paradise (A Natural), Adam and Eve chose the way of suffering and death (A-Flat). Hence, rather than merely erase what they had done, God said, “I will come and, through suffering and death, (A-Flat), compose a new symphony with an even greater ending. Through the suffering and death of my own Son, and by his obedience, I will compose a new symphony, one that ends with humanity not in some mere earthly paradise, but a heavenly one. One that ends with humanity not as just humanly perfect, but as sharers in Divine nature. Yes, my Son will take A-Flat and make of it a new song, an even greater song.” O felix culpa, O admirabile commercium (O happy fault, O wondrous exchange)!
Where our demise came through a man (Adam), a woman (Eve), and a tree, now too our redemption would would come from a new Adam (Christ) and include a new woman (Mary) and the tree of the cross. Suffering death, the chosen note of Adam and Eve (A-Flat) would now be the first note in a new symphony, bringing life and glory, all by God’s grace.
And our suffering and crosses too would do the same in this new symphony, this new song. As scripture says, This light, temporary nature of our suffering is producing for us an everlasting, weight of glory, far beyond any comparison (2 Cor 4:17). Yes, God took our sour note and and composed a new song, with a greater ending.
And that brings us the video below. I have to say, maybe I am just zany-brainy, but I saw Archbishop Sheen’s soteriological point in, of all places, a car ad for the “KIA Soul” (yes, aptly named). And I realize that what I am doing is pure eisegesis, that is, reading a meaning into the video that the originator likely never intended. But go with me on this little journey.
- As the video opens a terrible war is raging between two unknown parties. A-Flat is in loud evidence. In fact, if you have a good Bose woofer, the pounding A-Flat explosions shake the floor. The whole landscape and almost everything is in shades of gray, and everything is in ruins. Yes, this is the sour note of A-flat alright: death, violence, barrenness, not a living thing in sight, even the warring parties are robots.
- Suddenly into this scene drives a bright green “KIA Soul” with three occupants. Let the green represent life, and the three occupants, represent the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. (I know they’re hamsters, but stay with me).
- The warring parties stop, stunned by this bright green car, and aim their weapons at it. Out emerge the three living creatures, the Trinity, far more alive than any of the fighting robots. A tense moment ensues.
- The middle figure is a Christ figure, for he wears purple, a sign of his royalty and his passion.
- Suddenly the Christ figure cries out and all three in the Trinity begin to stop their feet. It is the same pounding A-Flat beat that the robots have been creating by their killing, it is a kind of a sound of death.
- But now the Trinity is using the A-Flat beat to dance!
- Suddenly, one of the robots starts to tap his foot, other robots quickly join in and before long, all are dancing. Same A-flat beat, but the Trinity has composed a new symphony around it.
- Weapons drop and the dancing ensues. Some of the dead even come back to life. The former flying war machines emanate rainbow patterns in the background.
- In a very symbolic moment the Christ figure in purple stands atop a concrete circle in the shape of a tree stump, as if Christ on his Cross in triumph dancing to A-Flat. The A-Flat of suffering that leads only to death is becoming life. A-flat doesn’t need to lead to war, if accepted it can lead to glory. The Lord teaches them a new song to the same note.
- In the final scene the “Trinity” drive down a road flanked by enthusiastic praises as the A-Flat dance continues.In the distance is the mountain where God dwells on high.
OK, too weird? Call me a dreamer but this is what I see. If all you choose to see is a car commercial, fine. But it never hurts to see Christ where ever we can. Man had disobeyed and ushered in an A-Flat world of suffering and death. God forgave us and Jesus undid our disobedience. But God, showing a reverence for us even in our struggle, takes our A-Flat of suffering and death and makes it a road to glory, the way to heaven.
Enjoy this video.