Many years ago, Archbishop Sheen made an insightful point that I am relating to you from memory. I beg your mercy if I do not quote him exactly, but his point related to soteriology, the theology of how we are saved.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 by His obedience. The Lord takes up some of these consequences as a means to save us. It is of these consequences that Archbishop Sheen speaks. Again, what I relate is not verbatim, but is as close as I can recall:
Consider if God were conducting a great symphony, a symphony that He Himself composed, one of sublime beauty. Now suppose that he wrote this symphony in the key of A. Having assembled His orchestra, God brings the musicians to attention and begins to conduct the symphony. But suppose that in the front row, the first and second violinists, filled with a sense of rebellion and boredom by the third measure, insist on playing an A-flat, rather than the A-natural called for by the score. This of course creates a terrible dissonance. And so God, the great conductor and composer, brings the orchestra to a halt by tapping his baton. Looking to the first and second violinists, he says, “My symphony has been ruined. I will forgive you, but the note has already sounded and gone forth. It will not be recalled. So, what was that note you played?” The first and second violinists respond, “A-flat.” “Fine then,” says God, “Let us begin our new symphony in the key of A-flat.” And, raising His baton, he begins again …
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. In contrast, we said, “no” and hence we are saved by Jesus’ obedience. But God does not merely come in and say, “Well, you got that wrong, so I’m just going to reverse everything you did and put it back to the way I want it.” Our all-powerful God has a very deep reverence for our freedom to choose. And so God chooses to write straight with the crooked lines, with 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 keynote 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 the suffering and death of my own Son (A-Flat) and by His obedience, compose a new symphony with an even greater ending. The ending is one with humanity not in some mere earthly paradise, but a heavenly one. It is an ending in which humanity is not just humanly perfect, but shares 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)!
Whereas our demise came through a man (Adam), a woman (Eve), and a tree, our redemption, too, would come from a new Adam (Christ), and include a new woman (Mary), and the tree of the Cross. Through the suffering and death of Jesus, 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 with it composed a new song, with a greater ending.
And that brings us the video below. Maybe I’m just zany-brainy, but I saw Archbishop Sheen’s soteriological point in, of all places, this car advertisement for the KIA Soul (yes, aptly named). And I realize that what I’m 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 factions. A-flat is in loud evidence. In fact, if you have a good Bose woofer, the pounding A-flat explosions shake the floor. The entire landscape and almost everything in it is in shades of gray; everything is in ruins. Yes, this is the sour note of A-flat, all right: death, violence, and barrenness, not a living thing in sight; even the warring parties are robots.
- Suddenly, onto this scene comes a bright green KIA Soul with three occupants. Allow the green to represent life, and the three occupants, 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. From the car 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 stomp 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!
- One of the robots begins to tap his foot. Other robots quickly join in, and before long, all are dancing. It’s the same A-flat beat, but the Trinity has composed a new symphony around it.
- Weapons drop and the dancing continues. Some of the dead robots 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 using the same note.
- In the final scene, the Trinity drives 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, is that 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 wherever we can. Man 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.