In Matthew 8, Jesus is amazed*** at the faith of the centurion. What would it mean to “amaze” Christ, to cause Him to marvel, to wonder? What’s interesting about the passage is that the centurion amazes God, surprises him.
Christians sometimes see vocation as something which must be dictated to them, in every detail, by God. But what if God just gives brief hints, whispers, suggestions, and then sits back and lets Himself be pleasantly surprised by the good things we come up with? When God called Adam to name the animals, He didn’t whisper into Adam’s ear the “right” name for each one. He gave Adam a simple calling and then sat back, with an excitement and anticipation of any creative narrative.
The God who would be amazed is the God who would make us unpredictable, even to Himself. This is part of the excitement of vocation. We are called to be co-creators in the world, to make what has never been, and God doesn’t want to be our puppeteer or the master computer from which we derive all our programming. Rather, He wants to be surprised, amazed, like a Father who instructs his children on how to do good in the world and then would wonder at the ways his children love, beyond even his own imaginings.
Of course, the neo-Thomistic obsession with the absolute all-knowing all-powerful God will try to explain away ἐθαύμασεν with a kind of embarrassment about how Christ is presented in the New Testament. They bring all the anxieties into biblical narratives that the self-righteous would bring into the pursuit of vocation.
But the God who would marvel at us is not the dictatorial God who sees everything and thus has nothing to amaze Him. If Christ really was amazed, we have a God who makes man so great as to love as has never been imagined before.
***ἐθαύμασεν: “he was amazed” or “he marveled” or “he was in admiration”
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