St. Justin Martyr

The Long Bony Finger


The prophet and the philosopher are both pointers. Prophets point at, philosophers point out. But both point. By doing so, they endeavor to carry to consummation that spontaneous act of pointing begun long ago when they were infants. No one needs to teach a baby how to point. Ever since emerging from the womb, they wait for the day when all their inarticulate thumb-sucking, flaying and slapping can finally converge on that precious moment that gives birth to significance. Suddenly, unexpectedly, a fat little index finger stretches out like a pistol and targets the world.

Babies are looking for meaning in the wonderful and scary world around them. In their innocence, they are already searching for an answer. Even before speaking, the pointed finger is followed by baby eyes that unmistakably ask: “What on earth is that?! Could that be it?” Prophets – whether Jewish prophets or Muslim, Buddhist bodhisattvas or Hindu avatars – are also on the lookout, in search of the Logos. They range with their extended fingers over a host of candidates, trying to identify the One who is to come. Philosophers, too, are looking for the Logos, searching more in ideas and arguments than in persons, but looking and pointing all the same.

A good Christian respects and honors all the prophets in their attempts to finally point at the ultimate Word of Truth, and all the philosophers as they try to point out the meaning it carries. But throughout the world of conflicting cults and creeds, ideologies and faiths, they only see approximations and at times distortions, a blur here and a shadow there – nowhere the fully outlined Logos we all long to see. Until of course, one famous finger stretches forth.

At long last our attention is directed to the Logos in 4K, in clear and unmistakable high definition. It’s the long, bony finger of the last Old Testament prophet, St. John the Baptist. Along that knotted digit, from joint to joint, both the searching eyes of the world’s varied prophets, and the questioning minds of a thousand philosophers are destined to travel. With relief and gratitude, they will finally fix their eyes on what the scruffy Baptist is pointing to, as he proclaims: “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world!”


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