Christ, the disobedient
Change is only possible from antitheses. In the individual psychological sphere, antitheses are questionings. One of the first steps in questioning is to let go of supports, safety bars. This is usually done when one says no, when disobeying the one who enforces, governs, and annihilates possibilities.
Frédéric Gros, in his book Desobedecer (Disobey), quotes an excerpt from The Brothers Karamazov, in which Dostoievski talks about the return of Christ. It is worth remembering here the story of Ivan Karamazov, who narrates this reappearance in the XVI century in Seville, in a Spain taken by the Inquisition. The crowd recognizes Christ in a square and watches when He resurrects a girl. The Grand Inquisitor appears in the same square. Christ, tired and silent, is carried by the platoon commanded by the Inquisitor who takes Him to the prison of the Holy Office. The Dominican examines the face of his prisoner and asks: “Is that You?” “Don’t answer.” “For You have come to hinder us.” This appearance of Christ threatens the order again with His ideas of freedom – and it is an authority of the Church that accuses Him!
For 15 centuries the Church had been organizing and demanding obedience from the faithful. The Inquisitor speaks of Christ’s disobedience in the three refusals addressed to the Devil himself, Satan. “Remember, remember what You have refused to the Tempter”. Ivan Karamazov goes on to tell how the Devil appeared in the desert before Christ, who was undergoing a long fast, proposing Him to use His powers to turn stone into bread to satisfy the hunger of men, to which Christ replied: “Man lives not by bread alone”.
The second refusal refers to the episode in which the Devil takes Jesus to the top of a temple and asks Him to jump, remembering Him that the scriptures mention that angels would hold Him up, avoiding the fall if He was really the Christ. Once again Jesus responds by refusing: “It is also written: you shall not tempt the Lord your God.” The third refusal occurred when the Devil took Christ to the top of a mountain and offered Him universal power over all kingdoms with the condition that He would prostrate before him. Jesus answered: “No, because I only serve and worship God”. The Inquisitor recalls these three temptations and three refusals as evidence of Christ’s disobedience, who refused to prove His identity with miracles, expecting an authentically free faith.
Not obeying the Devil meant not giving in to the temptation to save and help humanity because Christ did not want to reduce mankind to servitude. Obedience enslaves. Freedom – free will – is what signifies, and that freedom dignifies the human being, even though it makes it desperately alone. As Frédéric Gros comments: “This is the ‘all too human’ lesson: it is only in obedience that we get together, that we are alike, that we no longer feel alone. Obedience makes community. Disobedience divides.” Christ’s disobedience to the Devil’s temptations shows, according to F. Gros, numerous characteristics of His attitude. “He refuses to be a Master of Justice in the sharing of goods, as a Master of a truth guaranteed for all and objectively verified and as a Master of subjugating and aggregating Power. In short, Christ does not want to produce obedience; He demands that freedom from everyone, believing it is where human dignity dwells”.
The speech of the Grand Inquisitor, produced by Dostoievski, shows the exemplary foundation for the existential condition of being-in-the-world: Freedom, Emptiness, and Availability. To be free – to be human – is to throw oneself without expectations or guarantees, to throw oneself into every day of being-in-the-world with the other. This non-demarcation – this emptiness – is space, it is time in which encounter, acceptance, and discovery flourish. It is the new that transforms rules and standards. Inquisitors and institutions map and organize paths, guide, but subtract freedom, discovery, creativity.
The repetition of daily living, along with guarantees and certainties, establishes the reiteration of a monotony that empties, depresses, and alienates. People in society, with safe space and boundaries, with enough food, become ornaments, market gadgets. Being able to open the doors of their cages, of their prisons, to overthrow the game that generates obedience as a reward is humanization. It happens when one stops being a member of the herd, when one stops following something he/she does not even know what it could be, but which was being followed considering food and security. Only then are needs transcended and human possibilities realized.
Source Credit: This article originally appeared on Wall Street International by Vera Felicidade de Almeida Campos. Read the original article - https://wsimag.com/culture/64643-christ-the-disobedient