Under the fig tree and finding the right preposition

By Ken Rolheiser

Gentleman: "Excuse me young man. Would you please tell me where the library is at?"

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Student, rudely: "I am sorry, sir, but at this school, we are taught never to end a sentence with a preposition!"

Gentleman, apologetically: "I beg your pardon. Would you kindly tell me where the library is at, jerk?"

Another famous preposition story involves Jesus’ call to Philip to follow him. Philip asks, “Where did you get to know me?” Jesus says, “I saw you under the fig tree.” (John: 1:45-50)

Scholars speculate about what Philip was doing under the fig tree. It was a Jewish tradition to study scripture under a fig tree. Perhaps Philip was meditating on the sacred text. Using the right preposition can have us meditating with Jesus

A preposition shows the relationship between a noun and the rest of the sentence. In spirituality we use prepositions to show our relationship with Christ: “Through him, with him, and in him in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all honor and glory is yours, Almighty Father, for ever and ever.”

With these solemn words, the priest ends the eucharistic prayer at the center of which is the mysterious event of the consecration.

In the words of St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, “These words at the same time encapsulate the prayer of the church: honor and glory to the triune God through, with, and in Christ. Although the words are directed to the Father, all glorification of the Father is at the same time glorification of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

“All praise of God is through, with, and in Christ.” St Teresa says: Through him, because only through Christ does humanity have access to the Father; with him, because all authentic prayer is the fruit of union with Christ; [and] in him, because the praying church is Christ himself, with every individual praying member as a part of his Mystical Body.”

The dual meanings of through, with, and in clearly express the God-man’s mediation. The prayer of the church is the prayer of the ever-living Christ. Its prototype is Christ’s prayer during his human life. (St Teresa Benedicta Before the Face of God)

When we go to meet Jesus in meditation, under a fig tree or in our favorite prayer spot, we go armed with prepositions. In 1 Corinthians 1:1-9 Paul uses more than 15 prepositions (but who’s counting) to show our connection to Christ.

In Christ (1:2) shows how your life has been taken up into Christ’s life. You are taken up into a new creation and you are a child of God. Upon Christ (1:2) shows how we call on Christ our Lord. We witness to Christ (1:6), and we will be found with Christ (1:9) on the last day because God has joined us to his Son and God is faithful.

“When anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwells in him and he in God” (1 John 4:15).

To be faithful to my reader I need a good preposition to end this column with. Prepositions are crucial in our world. One of the best-known prepositions is the German uber, or over, which “will get you there”.

And, for a painless exit: What do you call a ride sharing app that serves breakfast? Eggs Uber Easy.

© Copyright 2018 Carlyle Observer

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