Drawing deeply from the wellsprings of the Bible, the wisdom of the Church, and his own experience, Scott Hahn reflects simply yet profoundly on the nitty-gritty of life, love, relationships, marriage and family, all in the context of the bedrock doctrines of the Christian faith. His retelling of the story of our salvation in Jesus Christ opens us to the truth of our origin and destiny in the one God, a Trinity of divine Persons who abide in a communion of love -- a love stronger than sin and death. This book is full of good news and solid answers to life's toughest questions.
Scott Hahn is always a surprise. You pick up the book thinking that, after a glitzy autobiographical opening (in the American fashion), this will be a re-play of an old record. But then, as you read on, the absolute freshness of the thinking rises up and hits you between the eyes.
Now he has done it for family, Trinity, Church.
If you think the beginning is schmalzy, read on. For Hahn, romance and children break down egoism, but even when our nuclear families are not spoiled by dysfunction, neither romance nor children is good enough. Our longing for love, family, home, can only be fulfilled in the DIVINE family plan -- which is where Israel and Christ, Trinity and Church come in.
He starts from Israel. The twelve tribes, Hahn argues, were "trustee-families," with "covenant" the legal, ritual way to accept new members. But that -- the Israelite experience -- was only a beginning. The Saviour spoke a family language of a new kind, a language of a Father's children, and a God who is (as we would come to say, in shorthand) "Trinity". His aim was to draw people away from even the primal families of the old Israel into a new supernatural family that would be "as big as God".
Just why such re-making was necessary, and why -- in the last analysis -- it took the Incarnation and the Atonement to make it stick, it is the job of the narrative of the Fall in the book of Genesis to explain. Here Hahn's account takes on the tension of a detective story. I will not spoil the reader's enjoyment, but limit myself to saying: Hahn's theology of the Fall is wholly original and wholly orthodox, two qualities that, in such wide-ranging biblical interpretation, are rarely combined.
The message of Jesus life and death is clear: only a blameless life given to another, for another -- given sacrificially, then -- could reverse the Fall and reveal the Trinity. The Trinity is the only family bond that can last for ever, and the proof of its reality is Eucharistic communion in the Real Presence. And so finally to the Church. The great trustee family of ancient Israel moves to the margins but Jesus's disciples are not left orphans. In the Church, Christ has a bride that is also his body -- not as strange as it sounds, for a woman was so to cleave to her husband as to become one flesh. And this bride is, through our baptism, our Mother. Or rather, it is because the Holy Spirit's mothering of believers happens through Mother Church that she -- the Church -- can regenerate in baptism. As the communion of saints, human sin notwithstanding, this is a family that is always functional. And in its context, all those domestic realities from which Hahn started -- the married couple, children, sexuality, and indeed single people, whether consecrated celibates or not -- can find their home at the sacred hearth of God.
The delicacy with which Scott Hahn reaches out in his conclusion to those who have suffered in the family circle, or suffered from having no family circle to call their own, is not the least strength of this remarkable book.