Sunday, 18 May 2014

The future beckons

GospelJohn 14:1-12
Jesus said to his disciples:
‘Do not let your hearts be troubled.
Trust in God still, and trust in me.
There are many rooms in my Father’s house;
if there were not, I should have told you.
I am going now to prepare a place for you,
and after I have gone and prepared you a place,
I shall return to take you with me;
so that where I am
you may be too.
You know the way to the place where I am going.’
Thomas said, ‘Lord, we do not know where you are going, so how can we know the way?’ Jesus said:
‘I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.
No one can come to the Father except through me.
If you know me, you know my Father too.
From this moment you know him and have seen him.’
Philip said, ‘Lord, let us see the Father and then we shall be satisfied.’ ‘Have I been with you all this time, Philip,’ said Jesus to him ‘and you still do not know me?
‘To have seen me is to have seen the Father,
so how can you say, “Let us see the Father”?
Do you not believe
that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?
The words I say to you I do not speak as from myself:
it is the Father, living in me, who is doing this work.
You must believe me when I say
that I am in the Father and the Father is in me;
believe it on the evidence of this work, if for no other reason.
I tell you most solemnly,
whoever believes in me
will perform the same works as I do myself,
he will perform even greater works,
because I am going to the Father.


I've been dealing with a lot of troubled hearts this week as my students enter the last straight of the journey towards the end of their school life and the suddenly realised uncertainty of 'what next?'

The examinations have started and part of my group are ernestly playing catch-up with their studies. When I tried to send them to specialist tutors for revision they declined saying, 'but we can ask you anything, even if it's stupid'. Which, of course they can because I know that everyone brave enough to ask a stupid question is asking it on behalf of the silent majority. I have a feeling Philip and Thomas took the lead in exactly the same way. 

And they were brave to have a go. It feels that you would need an 'ology' of some kind to have a chance of a conversation with John's Jesus. His words twist together and he answers all questions with a question. No wonder the disciples struggle to follow what he is saying. 

A sign of the Divine Jesus? Or maybe a Jesus who knows the Divine; a mystic?

"Mysticism, according to its historical and psychological definitions, is the direct intuition or experience of God; and a mystic is a person who has, to a greater or less degree, such a direct experience -- one whose religion and life are centered, not merely on an accepted belief or practice, but on that which the person regards as first hand personal knowledge."
-Evelyn Underhill

Jesus certainly fits Evelyn's definition of a mystic. Yet YOU could also fit this definition - you do not have to be divine - you just have to have the experience of a  personal, intuitive relationship with God. 

Tales of the supernatural and the rise of the Age of Reason gave mysticism a reputation for being downright 'un-Christian', unless, perhaps, you were at the other extreme - a saint. 

Yet there is no magic involved, no otherworldliness, no secret societies, no select cults. Mysticism could be, should be an everyday experience for everyone. A development of our personal, spiritual growth that we should aspire towards; as Karl Rahner wrote:

“the Christian of the future will either be a ‘mystic,’ one who has experienced ‘something,’ or  will cease to be anything at all.”

The Christian of the future, of now, should seek to follow the prayer and spiritual life of Jesus. It isn't either/or - it's both/and.  The practical proclaimer of social justice is the same man who accepts the gift of anointing, who feels the power drawn from him by another. 

The Son of Man has to be human, through and through, he can't jump from one to the other- he can't be God when it suits him. Following the temptation in the desert, so long ago now, Jesus relinquishes that opportunity - he chooses humanity. 

The only difference between him and us, Jesus might say, is he knows who his Father is; he knows.

When the miracles of healing and reconciliation occur, Jesus never says - 'it was me'.

Jesus is trying to tell us is that we can do the same - that his absolute faith doesn't come from being God himself but from being utterly human; from being vulnerable; from being powerless; from seeing his Father's hand in the world around him; from the experience of relationship that has no doubts. 

This should be our strength; this is the faith we must nurture. To want to belong to the Father, as Jesus belongs to him. To commit our lives to the desire to experience God,  praying for the knowledge of His will for us and then, for the  power to live that out.

wordinthehand2014

2 comments:

Claire Bangasser said...

Jesus is trying to tell us is that we can do the same - that his absolute faith doesn't come from being God himself but from being utterly human; from being vulnerable; from being powerless; from seeing his Father's hand in the world around him; from the experience of relationship that has no doubts.

I like this very much, Word. Thank you.

Gelli Ma said...

Thanks Claire <3