“Paradox” comes from two Greek words: para + doksos, meaning beyond the teaching or beyond the opinion. A paradox emerges when you’ve started to reconcile seeming contradictions, consciously or unconsciously. Paradox is the ability to live with contradictions without making them mutually exclusive, realizing they can often be both/and instead of either/or. G. K. Chesterton said that “a paradox is often a truth standing on its head to get our attention”!
– Richard Rohr, “The house that wisdom builds“
It is interesting to learn from Richard Rohr’s daily meditation about the Greek meaning of the word “paradox” – beyond the teaching/opinion. It is also interesting to read G. K. Chesterton’s quote “a paradox is often a truth standing on its head to get our attention”. Yes, come to think of it, Jesus’ sermon on the Mount as well as some of his parables convey paradoxical truths that capture our attention and cause us to wonder/ponder about the deeper meanings.
For example, Jesus said “The first shall be the last, the last shall be the first”, which sounds contradictory at first, since first and last are dialectical opposites, so to speak (if I am using the term correctly). Similarly, Jesus said “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted”, which sounds contradictory at first since it is logically impossible to be blessed/happy and to be mourning with sorrow/sadness at the same time.
However, maybe there exists a unity of opposites or synthesis, in which it is possible to be first and last, as well as to be blessed and sorrowful at the same time. My take is that by being last in the eyes of the world system, by taking their place as nobodies, as outcasts, the first-century disciples became among the firstfruits that partake of the kingdom of God that is within them – they experience the love, peace and joy within them, knowing that they are beloved and they are one with God/Spirit/Divine Love. Similarly, by mourning and embracing our sorrows, hurts and pains, we paradoxically experience a sense of deep peace, joy and blessedness because we would have been comforted by the Spirit of Love within us.