Monday, April 28, 2014

Delving into Deeper Truths

Aslan, the King of Narnia
SPOILER ALERT:  If you have never read C.S. Lewis' masterpiece, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, this post-Easter selection may give away much of the story for you :)  If you have read it and want to enjoy one of its most precious passages again, then please read on...
Prior to his passion and death, Jesus had told the Twelve and the other disciples that he would indeed suffer and die, but that we would be raised on the third day.  After the Resurrection, he asked two of them on the road to Emmaus, "Was it not necessary that the Son of Man should suffer these things and enter into his glory?" (Lk 24:26).
Jesus opened the Scriptures for the two disciples so they could understand everything in the Law, the Prophets and the Psalms which spoke of him--centuries in advance.  He unpacked the mystery of a God who so loves the world that he sends his only Son to suffer, die and then rise--for us. 
But why was it necessary?  In his allegorical adventure of four human children into the magical Land of Narnia, C.S. Lewis circles around this question by presenting Aslan the Lion King as a Christ-figure.  In order to defeat the evil Witch who has taken siege of the land, Aslan enlists the help of the human children in support of the forces for good.  However, after one of the boys commits treachery and betrays Aslan and the others to the Witch, the law of the land--the Deep Magic--dictates that she has a rightful claim to his life.  The traitor must die.
In a move that both shocks and elates the Witch, however, Aslan offers his life in the place of the traitor Edmund.  Thus, rather than the boy going to his death, the Lion King is led off to be mocked, abused, stripped of his mane, and executed on a stone table amid a throng of his enemies.
As it turns out, the two human girls are secret witnesses of the execution, and then run away in horror once their hero has been killed.  When they return to the scene of the crime in the middle of the night, just as the dawn is about to break, they find that the Stone Table has been broken in two and that Aslan's body is gone.  Then they encounter Aslan again.  He is even larger than he had previously been and his mane has returned.  After they touch him and realize that he's not a ghost, Susan asks "But what does it all mean?"  Aslan responds:
"It means that though the Witch knew the Deep Magic,
there is a magic deeper still which she did not know. 
Her knowledge goes back only to the dawn of time. 
But if she could have looked a little further back,
into the stillness and the darkness before Time dawned,
she would have read there a different incantation. 
She would have known that when a willing victim
who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor's stead,
the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backward..."
So, as Death continues working backward in our lives and in human history, may we stand in awe before the deeper truths from before the dawn of time: "Do not weep. The lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David, has triumphed" (Rev 5:5). 

And, as we continue to encounter this great mystery, may the faith-filled words of the once doubting but quickly convinced St. Thomas become our own: "My Lord and my God" (Jn 20:28)

Ss. John XXIII and John Paul II, pray for us :)