If there is anything that every good teacher wants, it is a long life in which to make his teaching known, and to gain wisdom and experience. Death is always a tragedy to a great teacher. When Socrates was given the hemlock juice, his message was cut off once and for all. Death was a stumbling block to Buddha and his teaching of the eight-fold way. The last breath of Lao-tze rang down the curtain on his doctrine concerning the Tao or "doing nothing," as against aggressive self-determination. Socrates had taught that sin was due to ignorance and that, therefore, knowledge would make a good and perfect world. The Eastern teachers were concerned about man being caught up in some great wheel of fate. Hence the recommendation of Buddha that men be taught to crush their desires and thus find peace. When Buddha died at eighty, he pointed not to himself but to the law he had given. Confucius' death stopped his moralizing s about how to perfect a State by means of kindly reciprocal relations between prince and subject, father and son, brothers, husband and wife, friend and friend.
Our Blessed Lord in His talk with Nicodemus proclaimed Himself the Light of the World. But the most astounding part of His teaching was that He said no one would understand His teaching while He was alive and that His Death and Resurrection would be essential to understanding it. No other teacher in the world ever said that it would take a violent death to clarify his taeachings. Here was a Teacher Who made His teachings so secondary that He could say that the only way that He would ever draw men to Himself would be not by His doctrine, not by what He said, but by His Crucifixion.When you have lifted up the Son of Man you will know that I am what I am. John 8:28)He did not say that it would even be His teaching that they would understand; it would be rather His Personality that they would grasp. Only then would they know, after they had put Him to death, that He spoke the Truth. His death, then, instead of being the last of a series of failures, would be a glorious success, the climax of His mission on earth.Life of Christ by Fulton Sheen
Friday, March 28, 2008
At the end of his commentary about Nicodemus' night visit to Christ, Sheen makes a point that I don't recall having seen made in just this way.