THE CHURCH, MATER DRAMATIS

by Anthony Esolen

THE DRAMA OF FREEDOM

If we are only dust, or brutes, if we have no free choice, if the world has no meaning, then life is merely absurd, and drama is impossible.  The Christian message is that we are dust destined for glory or misery; that God is present and at work fully in every millimeter of space and every moment of time; that time is the moving shadow of eternity.

Think of the drama in the Gospels! Peter hauls in the load of fish over the side of his boat, having set out again on the water, and not too happy about it either, at the instance of a stranger, a carpenter.  “Lord,” he says to Jesus, depart from me; I am a wicked man.” And if Peter had insisted, what then?

“Sell all you have, give it to the poor, and come, follow me,” says Jesus to the rich young man, whom he looked upon with love, And the youth walked away, because his possessions possessed him. The camel could not squeeze through the needle’s eye. And if he had stayed, what then?

“Saul, Saul,” cries the Lord to the Pharisee flat on the ground, “why do you persecute me?” And if Saul had justified himself, what then? “Do you have no fear of God or man?” says one of the thieves crucified upon Calvary. “We committed the crimes for which we are punished, but this man was innocent.”  And if his fellow thief had turned to Jesus? “Zacchaeus,” says Jesus to the diminutive tax collector, “I am having supper at your house tonight!” And if the fellow had never climbed the tree?

We are compassed roundabout with so great a play of mysteries!

THE ONLY DRAMA THERE IS

Maybe we can go farther still and say that all drama is a version of THE DRAMA, the one that BEGINS WITH CREATION AND ENDS IN JUDGMENT, WHOSE KING AND CENTER IF THE HEART OF JESUS CHRIST.

…….IN THE END THERE IS ONLY ONE DRAMA-IS, WAS, AND EVER WILL BE.

Anthony Esolen is professor of English at Providence College, a senior editor of Touchstone Magazine, and a regular contributor to Magnificat.

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