A, Advent 1 The divine purpose
“Stay awake.” Mt 24:42
Love in the beginning, in the end love.
Love wishes to see love. That is its purpose. Love wishes to see the play of love, to see lovers in love, to love the unlovable and bring all to love.
Out of joy, your divine heart sings a new song: the world in all its harmony. Out of delight, O Eternal Child, you play your game, enjoying the variety of nature, simple and intricate, stable and evolving. You project creation as the mirror of your Self, as your very Self.
O Origin, O Father, you are in love with your work of love and you draw it to yourself so that in the end there is only one love. All will know and all will be known, all alert, all awake with the wakefulness of love, for love is the completion of consciousness.
Who then is the Love, who is the Loving and who is the Loved? Not three but one Love, one God. And when Love sees all consumed in love, you, O Love, will worship your work of love. God will worship the non-God become God. Love will worship Love. There are not several loves but one Love. There is only one ‘I am’, you, the Person who is Love.
A, Advent 1 The emanation of the world
“When the Son of Man comes …” Mt 24:37
We seem to be objects among objects, fragmented and inert, disappointed and dismayed. But no! A Voice is heard within behind the voices. Bird-song is inspired, and leaves rustle in prophecy. Nature hums its divine secrets to those who can hear. All is revelation. All is an emanation of the Divine.
Out of joy, O Father, you dance your new dance: the panoply of creation. You are in your acts; not divorced from your acts. They are manifestations of your being. The Speaker and the spoken are one. You are your expression; and yet you are not your expression. You are your creation; and you are not your creation.
In the God-man, crucified and risen, all is already reconciled and made one. When he, the Son of Man, comes at the conclusion of time will we attain the fullness of divine power, and understand that we and the world are one identity. When we love this world as you love it, we will see that it is our very self.
A, Advent 2 The world of nature
“He can raise up children to Abraham from these very stones.” Mt 3:9
All are called to conversion – humans, animals, and plants. Indeed, evolution is a history of conversion to you, Transcendent One. The stones, by the power of the coming Kingdom, are drawn from inertness to spread as vegetation over the face of the earth. Then animals appear, and so the journey of evolution is a pilgrimage towards your light.
The future impacts on the past, leading onwards and upwards, despite setbacks and detours. Nothing can resist your divine intention, O Father of love. In your knowledge you impart knowledge to the plants; your favour inspires nature, moving from inertia to love.
Matter has an infinite capacity, and stardust learns to smile. Already, in the first moment of creation the Incarnate Word is legible. But it is from the flesh of the Virgin that your Son is born, the high point of creation, the body on which all bodies will be remodelled.
A, Advent 2 The human being
“If you are repentant,produce the appropriate fruit.” Mt 3:8
O Transcendent, you are not a projection of the human will. When all desires cease and all ideas are abandoned, revelation takes place. When by divine grace we enter into the void, your mind is revealed in us.
Humanity is prophetic. Human flesh is forecast of the Word made flesh. The God-man is already visible in the merely human.
Author of all, you speak to all, addressing us in our human words. Your words have your nature and ours also. Your words to us are divine and human, unlimited and limited, glorious and obscure. The words of the prophets are your words; the history of the People of God is your history; but it is in the words and the silence of Jesus of Nazareth who lived and died, that you most powerfully communicate with us.
Your look transforms us into your very self. Jesus, your look of love, transforms all into Love.
A, Advent 3 John the messenger
“I am going to send my messenger before you.” Mt 11:10
Moses hears your command, You who are YHWH. He proclaims the Torah and brings your People to the Promised Land, but he does not enter it. John the Baptist is greater than all the prophets, for he is the first to recognise your Word made flesh and to proclaim him. Nevertheless he remains apart, baptising with water only. Those, however, who are taken into Jesus become fire.
Moses the Prophet and John the Messenger, both in their lesser degrees, know the Light but the least significant member of the Kingdom is Light in the Light. Moses leads the People out of captivity and teaches them people the duties they must perform. John plunges them into the water and gives them knowledge of the Carpenter who comes from beyond all thought. But those who see Jesus, who is Light from Light, become Light. What more need they do? They are Light, all is light to them, and they are light to all. There is one Light, you, Father, who are light.
A, Advent 3 John the restorer
“He will prepare your way before you.” Mt 11:10
John the Baptist alone observes the Torah in all fullness. He alone is true to you, the God of his ancestors. He alone is left; all the rest have fallen away. Therefore, he alone can restore the people to their truth. Treating them all like Gentiles, he calls them to confess their sin and to receive baptism in the sacred river. He restores your People to Torah.
Yet he now lies in prison. Who will save him, him the just one, the faithful one? He sends his disciples to Jesus with the question: “Are you the one who is to come or must we wait for another?” Jesus, in answer, points out how he restores not just the Law but also the person: “The deaf hear, the dumb speak again, the dead are raised to life”.
John brings the people back to their first innocence but Jesus takes them to their future. John recalls the people to your ancient covenant, but Jesus brings good news. John washes sin away but Jesus baptises with Spirit, O Ancient of Days.
Therefore John need not fear. “Blessed is he who does not lose faith in me.” Even if John is put to death now, he will be blessed. He has not lived and died in vain. He has recognised Jesus, the true baptiser. He has known things hidden; he has an intimation of the future even as he lies mutilated in the tomb. He who restored the Torah reaches beyond it to Jesus who brings it to fulfilment. Jesus and John are not opposed but one. The restorer is restored.
A, Advent 4 God sends
“He is the one who is to save his people from their sins.” Mt 1:21
O Silence, you are infinite stillness. Yet you are not aloof, uncaring. You speak the world and you speak to the world. You are in your speaking; you are one with your speaking.
You speak, not of money or success but of love. All is love; all will be love. That is how things are; this is the way things are to be. It has been decreed.
The Word is never called. Your Word is only sent, projected, communicated, not as just words but as flesh, Jesus born in Bethlehem. Jesus is your Word who reveals and transforms.
Your Word made flesh is therefore both human and divine. Jesus is firstly divine because you have the initiative, but also human because it is to humans that you address him. You give yourself in speaking your Word.
Jesus is spoken and therefore he speaks. He is projected into the world and he projects his words to the world. He speaks his words in Galilee and Jerusalem but his silence on the cross is the ultimate statement, transcending all words. It is paradoxical, unintelligible, and scandalous. The silence of the cross is the fullest communication.
This sending is not yet complete, however. Jesus is fully sent to the world when he is withdrawn from human sight and ascends to you, the Silence whence he came.
Those who hear the Word made flesh become the Word made flesh. They in turn speak the Word made flesh. They too are sent, outgoing, addressing words of blessing to all.
A, Advent 4 Joseph the father
“You must name him Jesus.” Mt 1:21
Faithful God, you are faithful to the faithful. To Joseph in particular, the faithful man, you are faithful. To him, the just, you are just.
To Joseph who obeys the divine command you entrust the Word of God. He is given, not paternity but fatherhood. The Word is made flesh particularly for Joseph. You give him a son like no other, just as he is a father like no other. The Child is a tribute to him.
For the growing child Jesus, Joseph is your finest image. He is the one whom your boy will first call ‘Abba’. In Joseph the carpenter, Jesus will see you, the architect of the universe. Joseph has pity on the Virgin and therefore Jesus learns how to be merciful. Joseph is true to the Torah; therefore he can command the Word of God. Joseph obeys the angel without question; therefore he can teach the youthful Jesus to obey your every command. Joseph acts on the inspiration that comes to him; therefore he prepares Jesus, the grown man, to receive the descending Spirit. When the Christ accepts the chalice of suffering he cries out ‘Abba, Father’, with a distant memory of his childhood father.
Joseph is father to the Son of God.
A, Christmas, Midnight The pre-existence of Jesus
“Christ the Lord” Lk 2:11
Jesus is not simply a philosopher. Rather, he is the perfect expression of the Inexpressible. The stories of his life and the sound of his words draw beyond this world into stillness and transcendence. He reveals the Hidden, the Infinite, the Ineffable. Our eyes fill with tears at such gracious mercy. You are the speaker; Jesus is your speech.
The Word spoken in time exists in the beginning. When you speak to us, your Word is both eternal and temporal. It is firstly eternal since you, the First, have taken the initiative. It is temporal since you speak in time. The Word is at once eternal and temporal, because you speak to us whole-heartedly.
By hearing Jesus in time we are taken into eternity. We become pre-existent even while living in the present. We become eternal in the fullest sense of the word as you are eternal, even though may seem impossible for you alone are eternal. Nothing separates the listener from fullest union with you. There is identity of nature. Time may oppose past, present and future. For those who are eternally present, there is no such division: the pre-existent is ever present. You are. Jesus is. We are.
A, Christmas, Dawn “He came down from heaven”
“So they hurried away and found … the baby lying in the manger.” Lk 2:16
You have spoken in many ways: in nature and in the human heart; in the myths and rituals of nations; in the call made to Abraham and in the history of your Chosen People. O ineffable God, you speak above all in the Word made flesh. Vulnerable humanity best hears you in the vulnerable Word. The Word comes down most fully from heaven when it is seen in humiliation, and when the Inexpressible is reduced to silence.
Jesus was destined to grow and perish, and so he is with us in our joys and sorrows. Living our lives and dying our deaths, he is available to those who are confined by life and death. Swaddled in clothes he knows our limitations. Laid in the manger he is food for us. His whole being is a word revealing you who sent him.
Can we hear what is being said? Can we hear you, the surprising God who communicates in these strange ways, not with sounds of thunder but in the cry of the Child?
Hearing the Word we become the Word; becoming the Word we can hear it: for only the same can hear the same. And our lives are conformed. We too become compassionate and vulnerable; we become food for each other.
A, Christmas, Day “He became man”
“The Word was made flesh and lived among us.’ Jn 1:14
You speak at many times and in many ways but when you wish fully to speak to human kind, you speak in human flesh. You spoke best to humankind in the one who became man.
The Word made flesh is with you from the beginning and is with us in time. He is declared in time to be what he is eternally: the eternal Word. He does not become your Son, whether at the baptism or in the resurrection, but is eternally your Son. He is spoken by you and speaks from himself at the same time. He reveals you, the Speaker, and reveals himself.
In all our experiences he is the Word to us and for us. He is above us and with us. He is human in the midst of our inhumanity. He is “like us in all things but sin”.
He embraces all humanity. No one has a special claim on him, for all are his bride. He takes to himself all who will receive him. He surrenders to humanity and allows himself to be enjoyed. He joins all to himself as one body and imparts his joy. Where is the Christ, where is humanity? All are one.
A, The Holy Family Son of Joseph
“… take the child and his mother with you” Mt 2:13
You transcend all names and titles, for nothing can determine your nature or give you purpose and task. The term ‘God’ is not a name; it is just a human usage. You have no name.
Jesus, however, is defined and commissioned by his name, which means ‘God saves’. Although it is you who send Jesus to his task, it is Joseph who actually names him. He knows the purpose of the Virgin’s son and fashions the boy’s self-image. He projects into the boy’s mind the knowledge that he, Joseph, has of you. Joseph is as God to the boy, and like the Eternal Father sends him on his divinely appointed task. When Jesus comes to realise who he is, he finds a profound identity of mind with his foster-father.
Jesus is the Word of love you speak in all eternity. He is the Lover on behalf of you who are Love. He is the messenger of love among the People of God. He is to be love wherever there is no love.
This planet earth is not defined by sin but rather as the place where your supreme love is made manifest. This tiny globe spinning in the immensity of space has as it most striking feature the cross planted on its surface, the ultimate proof of love.
Who will be convinced by the sign given by the son of Joseph? Those who are inspired by Love recognise Love.
A, The Holy Family Nazareth
“There he settled in a town called Nazareth” Mt 2:23
John the Baptist leaves his home and lives in the wilderness of Judea. Jesus, however, stays within the confines of Nazareth. He lives the life of a carpenter and shares the existence of ordinary people, attending the synagogue on the Sabbath, going to Jerusalem for the feasts, taking part in the cycle of birth and marriage and death.
Jesus wishes to be ordinary, nothing glorious or special. Yet this wish is already a sign, showing your divine presence at the heart of matter. He is everyman, teaching that your infinity is present in everyone. He is a sign of hope even in the dullness of a village.
What did Mary and Joseph know of the young man who lived with them? Did they wonder if he would marry? Did other parents approach Joseph and Mary to arrange a marriage? This is the first of the signs: his celibacy.
The thirty years of life in Nazareth are a long gestation. Jesus knows the gamut of situations and emotions in this modest village. He observes the human heart and already fashions his parables.
Thus he lives most of his life in the backwater village of a backwater province, biding his time, waiting for the opportune moment, the Day when he will make his appearance. He seems to be inert, but he is a coiled spring waiting to act. When the time comes, he will speak of you, for you.
A, Mary, Mother of God Mary, the New Eve
“As for Mary, she treasured all these things…” Lk 2:19
Eve had heard the words Adam had spoken to her, but she listened rather to the words of the Tempter who says, “You will be like gods, knowing good and evil ”, and eats the forbidden fruit. She then offers it to her husband who also eats.
The First Eve, like the First Adam, has a divided heart. But the Second Eve is without sin. She is the Woman, blessed among women, the totally feminine.
Mary draws the Word down from your side into her whole being. She gives flesh to the Word, the fruit that truly turns humans into gods. She offers this finest fruit to all human beings so that they too can become like God. As the true Eve, she gives knowledge of good and evil. She is proactive, free and initiatory like the Spirit of whom she is the symbol. As the true Eve with the clarity of light and the mobility of grace, she entices and draws forth the best. She is open to all because she is ever Virgin. She welcomes the Word wherever it is found. In her presence all are inspired to become the Christ. She enables all to become like your very self, and she treasures them all in her heart, which is your heart.
A, Mary, Mother of God Mary the Virgin
“As for Mary, she treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart.” Lk 2:19
Mary of Nazareth is both Virgin and Mother. How can this be? Who can say? The gospels are emphatic on this point. The Virgin Mother of God is bewildering. Her paradox leads beyond the intelligible into divine mystery. She reveals the One who delights in doing ‘what is improbable and impossible’. In this way, O Mysterious One, you are shown to be supremely free. In a sense, therefore, Mary enables the Divine to be divine. She gives birth to Jesus, the God-man. She is Theotokos, the God-Bearer. But you too, Father of all, are sort of ‘mothered’ into being.
Mary is able to enable because she is whole-hearted. Her entire being, from its very inception, is inspired and directed toward the Word. She is single-minded and virginal, with such clear focus that she is supremely fruitful. She is the place of wonder, the sacred region on whose holy ground the sacred edifice of the Word is erected.
So it is also with all who are virginal. When body, mind and heart are single-mindedly focussed on you, Father, a procreative power springs from every faculty and organ. The truly virginal is truly fruitful.
A, Epiphany Theodicy
“We saw his star as it rose.” Mt 2:2
The stars, so beautiful to our sight, are incredibly violent. The earth, floating like mother of pearl in the immensity of space, is violent too, yet nourishing, for life has flourished here as perhaps nowhere else in the universe
Our response to the ferocity of earthquake and plague, fire and flood is neither loss of faith, nor regression into childhood. Disasters are not punishment for sin. Rather they awaken us and challenge us. They turn us away from idle amusement and wastefulness. Natural disasters are provocation. We must work together to turn the world into a paradise, even into heaven itself. As mastery is exercised over the world, authority is acquired over heaven also.
The Christian faith, like the star that leads the Magi across the desert and through the night, provides sure judgment. Faith gives confidence in the world, showing it to be good. It gives the power to bring order out of chaos, and to make all things new. The Christ-child is discovered, not in some house as did the Magi, but in our very selves. The response of faith brings us to maturity, and at last we thank you, Father of Love, for the disasters. In wonderment you are proclaimed to be indeed “Holy, Holy, Holy”.
A, Epiphany Mystery
“ ‘Where is the infant king of the Jews?’, they asked.‘We saw his star …’ ” Mt 2.2
The King’s star shines in the night. The Magi set off, not sure what they will find. They have seen his star above them because already his Light has shone within them. The inner reveals the outer. They journey into mystery, knowing and not knowing, and discover a joy they never knew.
Only mystery can satisfy the human heart. Reason satisfies for a while but does lead beyond itself. Puzzles and riddles have their answer, but mystery allows the soul to soar every upwards. It is beyond control, and invites trust. It comes from beyond and we release ourselves into its enticement.
And so the Magi come to the Child-King seated on his mother’s lap. As they gaze in wonderment, they begin to travel into further worlds of paradox, which the King of the Jews has come to reveal. They present their tribute of gold, incense and myrrh, and glimpse the Paschal Mystery of their Lord’s death and resurrection. Their journey has just begun. There is no end to the journey into mystery and wonder, no end of discovering you, O Father of love who sent your Child into the world so as to draw us into you.
A, Lent 1 Evil
‘… to be tempted by the devil.’ Mt 4:1
What is evil? What is good? Ignorance and chaos affect the world. Illness disturbs the mind, and sadness affects the heart. When hearts and minds are divided, evil exists.
The Tempter, the “father of lies” addresses Eve to deceive her. “No, you shall not die; you shall become like gods, knowing good and evil” (Gn. 3:5). She assents to the lie and takes the fruit, as does her husband. It is the decisive folly, leading to the fragmentation of reality. The consequences are immense.
Jesus fasts for forty days and forty nights. Satan cannot endure this true Adam who is unconcerned with eating, and so tempts him, wishing maliciously to destroy the ultimate good. Jesus faces him and rejects him.
Jesus does more: he takes on all the consequences of all the lies. He enters into evil so as to turn all into grace. This is his triumph and the proof of his power. He turns evils into the opportunity to display you, the True God; and divided humanity can at last draw close to you, the Holy One.
What then, is good? What is evil? We understand in part, and only in the end will we fully understand. When evil has been turned to good, and hatred has become love, then the new heavens and the new earth will have come. O Master of all, you redeem sin and turn it to our advantage. What is evil in time you turn to grace in eternity.
A, Lent 1 Satan
“Be off, Satan!” Mt 4:10
We know the destructive force of wind, fire and water. Age and illness take their toll. Humanity has been profoundly inhumane. But is there a more sinister form of evil, an enemy of mankind, a “father of sin and prince of darkness”? Does Satan exist?
The deeper dimensions of evil are mostly hidden. It would be presumptuous to speak about forces of which we have little experience, and we confess our ignorance.
Our rejection of such a figure is at first not at first an admission that Satan exists. The rejection is total, the work, the influence, every aspect, even any consideration of existence – all are rejected, dismissed from our thoughts, consigned to oblivion and disempowered.
Jesus fasts for forty days. He conceals his glory and is made flesh, vulnerable among the vulnerable. Jesus, “the Morning Star who never sets”, drives out the arrogance and hatred, the lies and doubts that plague the human heart. Belief is not placed in the devil: belief is placed in the Light who conceals his glory and is made flesh, vulnerable as all humans are. Precisely because he is without sin, he can take on the sin of the world.
The Evil One, whatever this is, cannot endure the presence of the Just One and is provoked into the open. He tempts but fails, for lies and the ‘father of lies’ are essentially flawed and self-destructive. Satan crumples before the Truth, and withdraws.
So too, the Christian associates with sinners and does not fear to be considered a liar and blasphemer. Evil will do its worst and fail. Arrogance and hatred, lies and crimes cannot last. Jesus stands victorious, as do those who stand with him.
A, Lent 2 Jesus the Son
“This my Son.” Mt 17:5
Jesus takes his three principal disciples, Peter, James and John, and appears before them in his glory, revealing his true self. Moses and Elijah, citizens of heaven speak with him who is more truly from heaven than from earth. The three earthly disciples witness the three heavenly figures. The Voice claims him and acknowledges him. O Eternal Father, you acclaim Jesus while the bright cloud of the Spirit overshadows him. Jesus is not just heavenly but eternal. It is moment of deepest significance.
Jesus’ clothes gleam because he is Light from Light, Love from Love. He is your beloved Son, with your the mind and heart, Father of all, of the same nature and substance. He is the Expression of the Inexpressible, the Manifestation of the Unmanifest. You are Love and Jesus is Love revealed.
Jesus knows this and delights in it. He therefore worships you, Father, who worship your Son in return. Who, then, is the Worshipper, who is the Worshipped?
The scene of the Transfiguration entrances Christians because it expresses so fully who they are. To see him is to see the Invisible and to be taken up in ecstasy. He is the Image and to see him is to be initiated into the Divine Formless. They recognise themselves in the episode. The story touches them from outside because is it already happening within them. The Christian too is Son. All is one in the One.
A, Lent 2 Jesus the Word
“Listen to him.” Mt 17:5
Who stands at the origin and at the end? Who can explain the course of history? Does “God” exist?
To these ancient questions the reply is now given. “Listen to him!” Jesus is the Expression of the Inexpressible, the Image of the Unimaginable, the Sound of Silence. In him there is no falsehood, no ambiguity. He delights to be Spoken, uttered into the world.
Within all his teaching, within the inarticulate cry of the cross, within all his disciples’ transmission of his teaching, within all the words, your Word is heard, that divine resonance which springs from your loving Silence, Father, and leads back to it. In Jesus all questions are answered.
We hear the episode on the mountain and are taken to heaven. We hear the Word and become the Word. We are able to hear the Word because already we are the Word, reborn in the Spirit.
To Christians the inarticulate cry of the poor and the mute appeal of the unborn are fully audible. Christians are deaf to pretentious clamour but hear the whispering of conscience. They ignore the lie and delight in the truth. Having become the Word, Christians find that their every word is a mantra revealing the eternal Word. Whoever listens to them hear the divine Word and you, Father, who utter your word out of silence.
A, Lent 3 Baptism cleanses
“Those who worship must worship in spirit and in truth.” Jn 4:24
The Samaritan woman just stands there. She has had five husbands and the sixth man does not want her as wife. Jesus is the seventh man in her life, the perfect Man, who at last satisfies her long search for love. He does not feel compromised at being alone with a woman, a Samaritan, an adulteress, for he is not concerned with clean and unclean. To him all things are pure. He is pure and makes all things pure. He is whole and makes all things one.
It is the unclean mind that sets up obstacles and divisions between white and black, rich and poor, young and old, male and female, clean and unclean. The divided heart says ‘you are not my friend, you are not my very self’.
In baptism, however, all barriers are swept away. The original sin separating God and man, the subsequent sins dividing brother from brother: all are swept away. Water knows no differentiation, but mingles and is the same in all directions; and those who are immersed in the waters, body and soul, outwardly and inwardly, become equally fair to all, free from division and separation and enmity. They acquire the divine mind; their one heart beats in all human hearts.
So Jesus draws the Samaritan woman to himself. He pours his words and his presence into her and releases in her the fountain of life, springing up eternally. She knows him and is known by him. He initiates her into himself. All her ruined past falls away, and she stands restored to herself. At last she can love without hesitation. She is initiated into love, and returns to the original purity of paradise. Indeed in Jesus’ presence she enters into heaven itself where she can “worship in spirit and truth”.
A, Lent 3 Baptism as satisfaction
“Give me some of that water.” Jn 4:15
She has hungered for love, the woman who comes to draw water from the well. She has had five husbands and the sixth man is nothing to her. She comes now to the seventh man, the perfect man who will at last slake her thirst. He gives her the waters of love and brings her the satisfaction she had sought all her life. With a word, with a look, he pours the essence of his being into her. From her, in return, comes the outflow of love. She had turned from one man to the next, craving things of no value till she could find what is beyond value. But now she is at peace in this passionate exchange.
So it is in baptism. When the divine glance is sensed within, the heart leaps with joy, and the waters of life well up. Fountains are unlocked, releasing other reservoirs in an increasing torrent of delight. The craving for fame and fortune is forgotten.
The waters must flow both outside and inside. The outward ceremony is mirrored by the inner action of God. When baptism occurs thus completely, Christians enter the domain of love and feel they belong to a community of lovers. The hardened heart melts and all flow one into the other as into one great ocean. All thirsts are slaked. Each drinks deeply of the other and so of God. The satisfaction is complete.
A, Lent 4 Baptism heals
“You are looking at him; he is speaking to you.” Jn 9:37
He had been born blind. His parents’ eyes had filled with tears of sorrow, but now he is healed. Jesus had put paste on his eyes and told him to wash. He sees with his eyes and also with his soul. The healing from outside prepares for the healing within: he sees Jesus as the true Light. And in turn, the healing within opens his eyes to the world. He sees all in a new light. The vision of faith gives his eyes a brightness and vigour nothing else can give; from his eyes fire flashes, bringing a smile to the face of the earth.
The waters of baptism wash the skin but remain ineffective until the Light from Above shines from within. We see and become what we see. The soul is then healed of its wounds; the emotions are restored to balance. The poor become visible and their pain is felt. The depths of the Spirit become clearly evident; the hand of God is seen at work everywhere. We see and we are seen. The heart at last becomes a penetrating glance turning all into love. We can do things impossible: creating a new heavens and a new earth.
A, Lent 4 Baptism enlightens
“I washed and I can see.” Jn 9:15
The blind man washes at the pool of Siloam. His eyes are opened; his faculties are awakened. He goes from light to light, and at last he sees his healer. He sees Jesus standing before him because he has already seen Jesus dwelling within him. Indeed, the Light has sent Light-from-Light into the darkest recesses of the man born blind. Enlightened from within he sees the Light made flesh in front of him.
Jesus sends the man to wash at Siloam, but it is God who has sent Jesus. Similarly, the celebrant baptises in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, but it is primarily God who baptises, for he has primacy in all things. The Father is the initiating guru. He pours the waters over the forehead and pours the Spirit into the spirit. These waters, the external and the internal, acting together as one, initiate into divine knowledge. The eyes are opened and understanding floods in.
Baptism is enlightenment. When the waters flow over the head as well as within the soul, each centre opens up. Faith, self-knowledge, commitment, love, proclamation, wisdom and union: all function and flower. Jesus is proclaimed as the Light. Who then is enlightened? Who is the enlightener? Who is the enlightenment? Light-from-Light leads to the Light, till all is Light, one Light.
A, Lent 5 Obedience
“The dead man came out.” Jn 11:43
Jesus commands, “Lazarus, here, come out!” He can command because he has obeyed. He is the true Word, the perfect expression of the Ineffable. He does not hear a word; he is the Word. Being completely true to his own self he is completely obedient.
Jesus stands before the tomb of Lazarus and weeps. He weeps for all the dead and decides to join them in death. Through compassion he chooses to undergo his passion. He has the strength to be mortal because he transcends the limits of mortality. He is truly human because full divine.
Jesus commands and in him God commands. Jesus does not submit to the command as though I were other than himself; he is the command. Therefore in him the Father cries out, ‘Lazarus, rise from the dead, come into the light of day and into the presence of the Light’.
Obedient to the Word, the Church has the power of the Word. Therefore the Church cries out: ‘Rise. Come into the Light’. The Church joins the vast company of the forgotten and prays for them, and that prayer is heard.
A, Lent 5 Atonement
“Lord, by now he will smell; this is the fourth day.” Jn 11:39
Jesus is one with the One. Therefore he takes to himself the variety of the world and its divisions. At one with the One he does not recoil from disintegration and death. Coming from the One he restores all to unity with the One. Because he is one with the One, he has the strength to draw all things to himself. United to the Living God he is life-giving and vital. His every act of entering into disharmony and punishment is already to pardon it.
Jesus has authority to call Lazarus to himself and to the community as they stand weeping at the tomb. One with the One he can take on the disharmony and repulsiveness. Entering into the pain of a decomposing world and facing its smell, Jesus calls on his friend by name, “Lazarus”. In this one word the whole work of atonement is revealed. The Word made flesh calls out to all flesh and draws all flesh to himself, as his very self. The dead man is not alone, not abandoned but now brought to life in the Living One, of one body with him who makes all one.
In his passion, Jesus will put the chalice of suffering to his lips. Therefore the Spirit comes to him, loving him for loving the unlovable. The Spirit, his crown, his reward, descends on him in the tomb and envelops him and raises him to life. The Spirit will envelop the earth, where all will be at one; where good and evil, sin and grace, heaven and hell, human and divine, are all made one at last, reconciled, identified. A radically new heavens and a new earth appear, death and darkness gone.
A, Passion Sunday Suffering
“Your will be done.” Mt 26:42
Jesus is taken out from the Holy City and crucified on the hill of Calvary, but the cross is really planted in heaven itself. God is in life and death. God is neither life nor death. God is beyond life and death. God is revealed in every circumstance and is not confined by any circumstance.
The Father does not suffer as Jesus suffered, but Jesus’ suffering reveals the nature of God. Jesus can die and rise again because already sacrifice and resurrection are present in God. God is faithful within both, is truly himself in both. The Paschal Mystery of life and death reveals God because the Paschal Mystery is contained in God.
This is a hard lesson for us to learn who are drawn to pleasure and recoil from suffering. God is presumed to live only in happiness as understood in human terms. But no! He sends Jesus to the cross so as to free all from both pleasure and pain and to lead to the truth that is found in both. For love is both a delight and a torment. Passion is both desire and suffering.
The risen Christ will therefore show his disciples the marks of the nails. Life and death coincide in him.
A, Holy Thursday Betrayal
“They were at supper, and the devil had already put it into the mind of Judas Iscariot son of Simon, to betray him.” Jn 13:2
God is unconfined and unconfining. His embrace is wide, without hindrance or pretence. Therefore, when the hour has come Jesus does not reject hostility. He is betrayed and does not betray. He is faithful to those who are unfaithful. He receives the blows into the infinite openness of his heart. Denied by his disciples, rejected by the leaders of the people, repulsed, it would seem, even by the Embrace, Jesus remains true. All support is gone, all collapses. There is nothing, only bleak emptiness. All is stripped away and Jesus arrives at the centre of his being – he is Truth, he is Fidelity and therefore he is Victory.
The betrayal has only served to reveal his utter holiness. He holds all things in his embrace, both the good and the evil. And so the world is made holy.
A, Good Friday Immolation
“It is better for one man to die for the people.” Jn 18:14
In the temple in Jerusalem the priests would slaughter great bullocks, and pour out their blood. The flesh would then be cut off and roasted on the fire of the altar. It was the immolation. As a result, forgiveness and blessing would come to the people.
This transient world comes and goes. Life and death is the experience of every human being. Only by immolation, where life and death meet, can transience be transcended and lasting truth attained.
Therefore Jesus, the finest of humans, must be immolated. He is reduced to nothing. The flesh of the bullocks was taken and eaten, but Jesus is cast out as unclean, rejected by the people and abandoned seemingly by God himself.
Those who have the same heart will share Jesus’ suffering, standing with Mary whose soul is pierced. Where he has gone all must follow, for he is the Way leading beyond good and evil. The destruction of the best leads to the Ultimate, to the origin and end of things. This scene of horror leads the spectator into immolation, into the Holy of Holies, and into the presence of the One who is the secret of our souls, the Holy of Holies.
A, Easter Vigil Access to the Father
“The angel of the Lord descended from heaven, came and rolled away the stone.” Mt 28:2
The women come to the tomb and find it open as a sign to the disciples who are so slow to understand. The stone has been rolled back. All the barriers between life and death have been removed, between heaven and earth, between good and evil.
This is because Jesus had never closed himself off, never placed a barrier between himself and others. He never wore the mask of hypocrisy or the veil of doubt. He is without the shadow of sin, perfectly obedient to the One who sent him. His motivation is pure. He is of one mind and one heart with God, totally present to the Presence. Therefore his heart reveals the Father’s heart. His courage reveals the Faithful One. To look at Jesus to look through the window of his soul, is clearly to see the One who is glimpsed darkly in all others. His presence reveals the Presence.
Greed and fear set up barrier after barrier. But when grace comes from above, the tombs open just as the lotus flowers unfold their petals at the touch of the sun. Sin and sadness, uncertainty and weakness fall away.
The path is open. We come into the Presence. The heart rests in Heart, the holy in the Holy. The community of love opens, each to the other, without fear; the face broadens in a smile, and joy surges in the heart.
A, Easter Sunday God raises Jesus from the dead
“He must rise from the dead.” Jn 20:9
The tomb is empty. The bones of Jesus are nowhere to be found, neither in the Holy Land nor anywhere. Like the camphor that burns brilliantly without leaving any ash, Jesus the Pure is wholly raised. Nothing is left behind, nothing rejected as unacceptable. The sacrifice is wholly consumed.
Jesus comes as the perfect expression of the Inexpressible. He fully reveals the Hidden God. In his last great cry on the cross, all is said. Nothing more is needed. He enters into the silence and a great resonance fills the earth.
He had spoken and his words remain; he was born as flesh and his flesh remains. But every sinew and vein is now glorious, filling the universe, present to every time and place. Since he lived and died for all, the whole world is now his body.
If Jesus was cast out as sin he is now acclaimed as Son; put to death he is now raised to life; humiliated on the cross he is now worshipped; condemned, he ascends to the right hand of the Majesty, for God is just.
A, Easter Sunday Testimonies to the resurrection
“Till that moment they had not understood the teaching of the Scripture that he must rise from the dead.” Jn 20:9
Mary, the mother of Jesus, stood by his cross and, entering heart and soul into this passion, watched him die. She knows his dying, and already knows his rising. She, “the most highly favoured”, who so perfectly understood the Word that he took flesh in her, could not fail to understand the mind of God. She needed neither the empty tomb, nor the testimony of the Scriptures, nor the appearances, nor the touch of his wounded hand. She knows.
But the others are not so highly favoured. The beloved disciple needs to see the empty tomb and the shroud before he can believe. He needs the sign. For Mary of Magdala and the women, the empty tomb is not enough. They must hear the message spoken by the angels, announcing, “He is not dead, he is risen”. Although the disciples on the road to Emmaus – “those foolish men” – feel their hearts burn as the scriptures are explained to them, they still do not understand. To the others, even that is not enough. Less sensitive to the mind of God the resurrection must be made more obvious to them. Jesus must appear visibly. Even then some hesitate until he lets them touch him.
Heart, hearing, sight, and touch – the various testimonies are given. But the need in our day is to understand as Mary did. People do not wish to rely on lesser testimonies. They seek the overwhelming power of the Spirit. They want the conviction to come from the heart and to be felt in the heart. They wish the full power of the Spirit to descend on them.
A, Easter 2 Jesus, divine
“My Lord and my God.” Jn 20:28
Jesus, the Word of God, speaks to the people of God. What more could be said? He appears to the disciples and shows them his hands and his side. What more could be shown? He is the perfect expression of God, manifesting all that God is. He is all that God is. Thomas the doubter makes the greatest act of faith, exclaiming: “My Lord and my God”. His hesitation comes to an end. He has come to the Truth.
Thomas is transformed. His reality becomes that of Jesus before whom he bows low. Jesus and Thomas become one. He receives the revelation and becomes what is revealed. Thomas is given lordship, for to see the Lord is to become Lord. Thomas is divinised, for to know God is to become God. Thomas is both “Lord and God”, participating in what he sees. Only God can know God.
Thomas is blessed, but those above all are blessed who do not see and yet believe. They do not need to see with their eyes; they know with their spirit. They have an intense gift of grace. Already they are alive with the Alive, risen with the Risen.
A, Easter 2 Jesus, alive
“He said to them, ‘Peace be with you’, and showed them his hands and his side.” Jn 20:19-20
Jesus stands before them, no longer dead as before, and no longer alive as before. He is not reanimated but resurrected. His obedience, even to death, has transformed him. The splendour of his divinity has transfigured him. He is divine and therefore his flesh is divine. God reaches from end to end; therefore Jesus’ flesh encompasses every time and place. He is not present just here or there but everywhere. The divine joy in him makes ever sinew tremble with bliss, and the bliss fills the world.
Jesus must lessen the splendid universality of his flesh so that his earth-bound disciples can see him. He shows himself to them because they cannot understand his glory.
We live and partly live, subject to ignorance and transience, but Jesus is superbly alive. His flesh transforms all flesh; his mind enlightens all minds. He spoke to some but now he resonates in every sound. His rising, the central of event of time, fills all time as the radiance of the sun fills the sky. He joins heaven and earth in himself. He shows he is totally of God and totally for humankind. Heaven is brought to earth. The earth is made heavenly, fully alive at last.
A, Easter 3 Jesus, the Eucharist
“And they recognised him in the breaking of bread.” Lk 24:35
The disciples saw Jesus as he walked with them on the road to Emmaus, but they could not recognise him. They heard him quotes the words of Scripture, but could not hear the Word speaking to them. It is only in the breaking of the bread that at last they recognize him, for this act expresses him perfectly. They had once known him in the flesh and knew his suffering when he was ‘broken’ for them; they now know him in this sign, the “breaking of the bread”. The expressor and the expression coincide. The expression is all that Jesus is.
Jesus’ act is re-enacted by the celebrant who is the person of Jesus. At Mass, in faith, the priest is now the Christ. He declares: “This is my body, given for you”. The celebrant states his role: to give his life for the people among whom he stands. Unworthy as he is, he manifests the dead and risen Lord. The priest, the bread and the Lord are one reality. There is no dualism, no separation between them. The one reveals the other, the one is the other.
All this happens because God is at work: Love who is all in all.
A, Easter 3 Jesus, the inspiration
“Did not our hearts burn within us?” Lk 24:32
Their hearts burn within them, for they have understood, as Jesus explains the Scriptures to them. The opening of their mind unlocks the heart. The opening of their spirit energises their limbs: they hasten back to Jerusalem from which they had trudged in despair. Their joy frees their words, and they recount their experience. The higher centre opens the lower and imparts its energy.
The enthusiasm of the extremist is violent and gives no light. But the fire that burns in Cleopas and his companion is a blessing to them and to others.
God is a devouring fire, indeed, and transforms all into fire. God is Love, and transforms all into love. God is Light, and changes all into light, so that all knowledge becomes a revelation and every act is a pleasing sacrifice.
A, Easter 4 Jesus, the call
“He calls his own sheep.” Jn 10:3
It is God who calls his sheep. He is the Shepherd who speaks his Word, Jesus, and leads the sheep out of this world into the spacious pasture of his Heart. Jesus is the visible call of God, the perfect invitation. Jesus is ‘Come’, for he takes all flesh to himself. He is ‘Leave-all-else’, for in his dying he leads ahead, beyond all limits. He is ‘Be still’, for in him we dwell in the Father’s heart.
The Call is universal, resonating in all the earth. The Word emits all out of nothing, and remakes all to which it is addressed. It is discerning, not indiscriminate, masterful, not hesitant. It empowers the listener to heed its summons. Who could resist this captivating voice?
Jesus recognises his sheep. He calls them to himself because he is of them, as they are of him. He cannot resist calling them, nor can they be deaf to him. They belong to each other; they are the one self. Caller and called are one.
A, Easter 4 Jesus: the teacher and the teaching
“The sheep hear his voice.” Jn 10:3
The Word is God’s commentary upon himself. Jesus is God’s commentary upon the world. Jesus, the Word made flesh, speaks of God to the world, and of the world to God. He is his teaching. He is the lesson taught to all, proceeding out of silence to where all is to be said and leading back to the silence when all has been said. Who will hear the teaching?
Jesus teaches, nevertheless, and his words still resound. He is not bombastic but authoritative. He commands but does not dictate. His words are clear, and do not suppress. Rather, they come from stillness and lead to the calm that fills the heart.
Even one of Jesus’ words spoken in Galilee or Jerusalem reveals the Supreme Word, which he is. Even one word of the divine Teacher reveals the whole mystery of heaven and earth, God himself. This is seen strikingly in the single word, “Mary”. Hearing it, the Magdalene knew her Lord and bowed in worship before him.
Those who hear the words become the Word. Those who have ears to hear, become the Teaching.
Yet the disciple hears the Gospel preached to him because already the Word resounds within. The disciple hears because the Spirit is listening in him.
The Spirit – the Divine Disciple who is eternally attentive – evokes the Teaching. How could the Teacher, God himself, refuse speak his Word to the Disciple?
A, Easter 5 The Persons of the Trinity
“To have seen me is to have seen the Father.” Jn 14:9
The personal, the truly personal, is interpersonal. The Ultimate Reality, being personal – ‘I am’ – is essentially interpersonal. God is a communion, a trinity of Persons.
Egoists are so often isolated and fearful, cut off and self-absorbed. Love seems not to have come their way and the elements of self-love are no substitute. The individualist too easily seeks a private advantage and needs the acclamation of the crowd, which still does not satisfy. When will the redeeming grace descend, so that ‘me’ can become ‘I’, the object become subject, and the individual become person?
The One, the ineffable Father, expresses himself without reserve in the Word, and worships him who is God-from-God. The Father is expressed in the Son; the Son is the revelation of the Father. Person reveals person and there is joy in their mutuality.
In his delight, the Father gives to the Son the highest Gift, the Spirit. There can be no greater gift between persons that to give a person. So the Father in his love of the Son gives him the Spirit who is the personal expression of the Father towards the person of the Son. The Spirit is the Person of the Persons. In the Spirit the Father and the Son are at last truly personal.
Furthermore, in the Son the Father proclaims his love for the Spirit. And again, in receiving the Sprit, the Son expresses his love not only for the Spirit received with joy but also for the Father whose gift he gladly receives. In giving the one Spirit the Father surrenders to the Son and, in receiving the same Spirit the Son surrenders to the Father. And both surrender to the Spirit. Omnipotent divinity is found in surrender.
A, Easter 5 The divine indwelling
“I am in the Father and the Father is in me.” Jn 14:10
Out of the Silence the Word proceeds, as the perfect expression of the Inexpressible God. The communication is unreserved; nothing is held back. The Speaker is in the Spoken; to hear the Spoken is to hear the Speaker; nothing is hidden. The self-revelation is complete: the Word of God is God. The Expression and the Expressor are one. And the Word takes the listener back into the wondrous heart of Silence. God is fully revealed only by God, God is found in God, God dwells in God. The Father is in the Son, and the Son is in the Father. It is the divine indwelling.
Those who live in truth are the expression of the Expression; their words are the speaking of the Word. The Act is present in their actions and emotions, as the oil in the sesame seed. In perceiving ourselves, the Expression is perceived – Jesus the Word made flesh who is our very self. And in perceiving the Expression we perceive the Expressor. We come to the Origin from whom all proceeds. God dwells in us and we dwell in God.
A, Easter 6 “The Spirit from the Father”
“He will give you another Advocate.” Jn 14:16
The Father knows himself in his Word. The I am says ‘I am’. The Person is expressed as Person. The First Person is stated in the Second Person. The Word is God-from-God. The Expression is complete. Nothing is held back. Nothing is concealed. God communicates his whole being; he is in his Word. Therefore God worships God-from-God and acknowledges him who reveals God to God.
The First Person seeing the Second Person delights in him. Seeing the Second Person, the First Person expresses himself in a new way. He expresses his Person to the Person in a Third Person. The highest gift of Person to Person is the Third Person. Anything else would be less than total gift. The Spirit is of one substance with both Father and Son.
In the Spirit the Son is given every authority, possessing all that the Father has, acquiring dominion over all the Father has. In the wide expanse of the Spirit, the Son exercises his dominion and finds his bliss. In the embrace of the Spirit the Son finds the joy that is his from the beginning. In this embrace, God is known to be Love.
A, Easter 6 “also from the Son”
“I shall ask the Father and he will give you another Advocate.” Jn 14:16
Out of the Silence the Word proceeds, the perfect expression of the Ineffable. The Word, who is called ‘Son’, is the revelation the One who is called ‘Father’. In the Word the Father knows himself. The Light is known in the Light-from-Light.
The Father looks on him and delights in this perfect Manifestation of his being. This ‘look’ is not an uninvolved observation but a communication. The look of the Person to the Person is Person. The highest gift of the First Person to the Second Person is the Third Person. The Father gives the gift of the Spirit to the Son.
The Gift is not irrelevant but appropriate; it is not an imposition but is favourable to the one who receives. Although the Spirit proceeds equally from Father and Son, the Spirit arises differently, being given by the Father and received by the Son. The Son does not give the Spirit to the Father.
Yet reception too is act. The Son receives the Spirit and thereby acknowledges the Giver, worshipping the Father in his generosity. In receiving the Spirit, the Son acclaims the Father to be Father indeed. In receiving the Spirit of love, the Son expresses his love for the Giver.
The Spirit is given and received, not as some object but in freedom. The Spirit freely gives himself and is freely given. The Spirit is the communication of the Father to the Son and therefore is all that the Father is, consubstantial; the Spirit is received and wholly assented to by the Son and therefore is consubstantial with the Son, who himself is of one being with the Father. In this twofold giving and receiving, the Spirit is loved by both Father and Son.
A, Ascension “ascended into heaven”
“He was lifted up.” Acts 1:9
Jesus had been driven out of the city and raised on a cross. But the violence of the rejection is turned to good. Because Jesus is God-from-God, he has the strength to succumb to the burden of sin and to rise above it. The hands nailed to the wood are raised in blessing. He ascends through all the heavens, taking all things to himself. He withdraws from the world, lifted up by God beyond any limitation. He is Lord of all.
So too with those who are touched by the finger of God. All attachments fall away, all limitations and burdens. An expansiveness takes place. There is a sense of freedom from all constraint, a feeling of ascension. A cool, refreshing breeze seems to blow, clearing away all the debris. There is a surge of empowerment and universality, an experience of moving upwards, raised beyond partiality, to the place where all is cherished and all is taken to oneself, as one body. Tears flow in relief. The goal is reached. The truest self has been attained, fully present to the Presence, fully oneself. The new creation has occurred.
A, Ascension “at the right hand of the Father”
“He used [the strength of his power] ….. to make him sit at his right hand.” Eph.1:20.
Jesus ascends back through all the paths by which he had become flesh. He has come from above and returns. All things have proceeded from him and, now that he has become all things by living and dying for all, he takes all things with him as he ascends to the right hand of God. He has come to the centre, to the very Heart of all. He is beyond the fluctuations and fortunes of time, triumphant over all divisions and distinctions. The torment of the cross has become a footstool, supporting his victory. He is subject to none except the Subject, the One who truly is ‘I am’.
By abandoning all attachment, the heart comes to rest in the Heart, and sees the Heart within the heart. Here is great peace, for nothing more is needed. This rest is not inactive. On the contrary it is unlimited act. Restfulness and activity are one. Until that point is reached, effort is strenuous and dependent, attached and unresolved. Now, seated at the Centre, an immense authority streams forth, empowering and sanctifying, accepting and justifying all. To rest in the Self means drawing all to the Self, seeing all as oneself, the One Self. Around this centre the whole of creation revolves and finds its being. The stillness inspires movement. Things happen, for rest and activity are counterpart. Peace is supremely fruitful.
When we take our seat at the Centre, the world in all its variety is embraced, and an immense bliss fills the heart. In the union where stillness and dance are conjoined, suddenly the One is perceived; God is seen as all in all.
A, Pentecost The People of God
“He breathed on them and said: ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’.” Jn 20:22
From out his mouth God breathed his Spirit into the figure formed of dust. The one Spirit is now poured into the discouraged disciples and they begin to live as never before. They have in their breath the Breath of the Christ who died and rose for them, whose Breath has come from beyond life and death.
The disciples receive the Holy Spirit together, and together they stand as one. They are the communion of saints, the People of God. They are saved together and they save each other. They encourage each other and reveal each to the other. They give each to the other both freedom and authority, the power of heaven and earth.
They are individuals – Peter the Rock, John the Beloved, Simon the Zealot – yet they constitute a communion, receiving and sharing the one Spirit, confirming each other, gathered around Peter.
But it is Mary, who is not present, who gathers them to herself. She does not need to be present in the upper room to receive the Spirit on Easter Day, for the Spirit came upon her when she came into being, when she conceived the Word in her womb and when she stood at the cross to receive his dying breath. The People of God acclaim her as Mother. All are her children.
A, Pentecost Confirmation
“He breathed on them and said: ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. Those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven; For those whose sins you retain they are retained’.” Jn 20:22-23
The candidates descend into the waters of baptism. They are pushed down by God’s hand, and joined to Christ. And with Christ they rise from the water, and stand ‘on the other side’. They have passed through death to life, regenerated by the vitality of the eternal Father.
The baptised have shared in Christ’s chalice. Without hesitation, they have drunk the cup to the dregs, partaking of the height and the depth, knowing the extent of good and evil.
How could God not love their love for the living and the dead, their universal love for good and bad alike? So from the heavens the voice comes, “You are beloved, you are chosen. You are, and you are of God”. It is the act of divine approval, the acknowledgment, and the affirmation.
The Father looks on them with love and pours out his Spirit, the expression of his amazement and delight. The Spirit descends. How could the Spirit, for his part, resist the attractiveness of these ‘heroes’?
The baptised are justified and confirmed. The Spirit’s descent is God’s approval of the eternal Word made again now in time. The descent of the Spirit is the Father’s worship of the Son manifested again in the particular individual at a particular time.
This confirmation is the communication of power. Counsel, right judgment, awe and reverence, wisdom and freedom are conferred. And from the confirmed come the rays of energy as oil glistens on their forehead. From them stream wisdom and power: the radiance of the Spirit.
The confirmed are authentic and holy, mature and free. To them authority has been given. They are signed and sealed, acknowledged and proclaimed. They proceed then to consecrate the heavens and the earth and to offer sacrifice in Eucharist.
A, Trinity Sunday The Godhead
“And YHWH descended in the form of a cloud.” Ex 34:5
When Moses asks, “What is your name?” no answer is given. The response comes simply, without description or definition, “I am who I am”. The One cannot be contained and cannot be named.
To speak about God is to be in some way distant from God, for God is not an object of discourse but is the subject, “I am”. The ultimate reality is ‘I’, purely subject, totally and simply personal. There is no being beyond Person, no ‘is’ beyond ‘I’. Those who draw near become present to the Presence so that all is Presence. To draw close is to enter into silence.
As we appreciate music most fully only by our becoming music, and as fire is known fully only by our becoming fire, so God is ultimately known only by our becoming God. God is indeed known in the elegant simplicity of creation, in the human being made in the image of God and in the sacred revelation of the great religions. But “I am” is ultimately known only by being taken into “I am” and becoming pure Subject so that all is subject to the Subject, and we know ‘I am all in all’.
A, Trinity Sunday God the Father
“Yes, God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son.” Jn 3:16
Only by the inspiration of the Spirit can we know Jesus who, most powerfully, reveals God the foundation without foundation. God is the Personal heart of the visible and invisible, the created and uncreated, the origin and end. All flows from Love and leads to Love. Love is expressed in all its permutations – lover, loving, loved – because the Father is the fountainhead of all.
Love is the ultimate source. Love fathers the universe. Love is the wellspring of Jesus, whose heart reveals at its centre the Heart, which alone can explain him. No conditions attach to love which extends to enemy and friend, loveable and unlovable, and in a great flood of passion bursts all the constructions of the mind, sweeping all in its path. All becomes Love and knows Love, for Love is only known by Love.
Happy are those who have found someone to love, who discover how to love, and become identified with Love. They have access to the Father’s heart and become the Heart. Who is loved, who is the lover, who is the loving, since all is Love?
A, The Body and Blood of the Lord Covenant, new, everlasting
“As I who am sent by the living Father, myself draw life from the Father, so whoever eats me will draw life from me.” Jn 6:57
Jesus gives the cup of his blood and proclaims it to be “the new and everlasting covenant”.
It is new, for it surpasses all other covenants. Noah, Abraham and Moses made covenant with the blood of others – the animals of sacrifice – but Jesus makes covenant in his own blood. It is everlasting, made once and for all at the Last Supper, but is made anew each time the priest, wherever or whenever, identifies himself with the Lord and pronounces the words of consecration. It is new and renews those who make covenant in his blood. They too sacrifice their life and receive that life that comes from beyond life and death. It is everlasting since nothing is more extreme that the coincidence of life and death, being and not being. Nothing can surpass it. It takes place in time, but it is eternal from the start. It is the expression of the original covenant between the Father and the Son; it is the Spirit who is the bond between them.
Covenant is the heart of the divinity and is the secret of every being. The covenant between God and man is supremely made in the God-man. Therefore by entering and eating and drinking of him, of his flesh and blood, we come to the Truth in which we were made. And we enter into covenant with each other. We are one body in the Body, one blood in the Blood. His blood is in us; God lives in us and we in God. And so we dwell in each other’s heart, without obstacle, God living in us and we in God.
A, The Body and Blood of the Lord Communion with God
“He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives in me and I live in him. As I who am sent by the living Father, myself draw life from the Father, so whoever eats me will draw life from me.” Jn 6:55-57
The Ineffable expresses his Word absolutely in all eternity. He expresses it in time in the Word made flesh. He expresses it most powerfully in the death of that flesh, whose blood is poured out on the hill of Calvary.
God has expressed himself in liquid form, expressing all that he is. The Father has pressed out the blood; and to receive the blood is means drawing near to the divine winemaker. His life is received in drinking the blood that is given from his hands.
Because the cup of Christ’s blood is received from the Father’s hands, there is one blood between the Father and the communicant. The divine life and the human life become one life. The holiness and power of the Eternal courses in the veins of the earthling.
All who commune with the One, commune with each other. To hear the Word is to become the Word, and to drink of the Blood is to become the Blood. Those who share the one Blood share their blood with each other and become of one Blood, blood-members of the one family. Blood gives to Blood. Only Blood can receive Blood.
And there comes a bliss and a joy beyond compare, for the Wine of the chalice is bliss; it is life and life giving, intoxicating with a divine astonishment where all mental constructs vanish.
A, Baptism of the Lord The Trinity
“This is my Son, the Beloved.” Mt 3:17
Notice what the Voice says: “This is my Son, the Beloved ”. The Voice does not say: ‘He is now my son; he was not my son before’. The Voice does not say: ‘This is my son, I have others ’. The Voice implies: ‘this is my son, the only son: he always has been and ever will be’.
Jesus rises from the muddy waters of the Jordan and stands on the bank. He is the Word, the Manifestation, the revelation of the Hidden God. Therefore he is called “Son”. He delights to be Revelation, revealing God to God, revealing man to man, revealing God to man, revealing man to God. For how else can we know you the Ineffable, you who are beyond all knowledge?
To see Jesus standing there on the bank is to realise that you, O Incomprehensible God, are Love. The person of Jesus reveals you as Person. Jesus who loves universally shows that you are the Lover of all. The Messenger of Love reveals the Lover. This is known not just in words but also in the factual reality of that person, Jesus.
This is true in time, because it is true in eternity. If you are Love and if your Word is the messenger of your love, to who is the message communicate? The recipient is none other than the Spirit, the perfect Disciple, who also is Love. You speak your Word of love to the Spirit. For Love wishes to hear the Word of Love; only Love can fully receive the messenger of Love. Again, out of your love – out of your very self – you give the Spirit, the Gift of Love, to the Son. On Jordan’s’ bank the Spirit freely descends, who in eternity is given once and forever.
Who then, whether in eternity or in time, is the Lover, who is the Loved, who is the Loving? There are three Persons, one Love.
And so, as we are caught up into this scene, we become Lover, Loved and Loving. As we revere the scene, we become what we worship.
A, Baptism of the Lord The God-Man
“He came up from the water, and suddenly the heavens opened.” Mt 3:16
Jesus rises from the Jordan River and stands magnificently on the bank. He knows the depths and the heights. His experience is universal.
From the start Jesus holds all things in himself. This is done not by an act of the will or any pretension. He simply recognises his own nature: he knows that all things are in him and from him and for him. He is the centre of time.
And, as the waters flow to his feet, blessing streams out of him. From his stillness on the bank, grace flows out even before he begins to speak. He will then reveal himself in words and actions, showing he is the God-man, manifesting you to the world and the world to you, presenting you in human terms and bringing mankind to its divinity. He is your Word, your Messenger, and your Expression. For how can we know you, the Ineffable, who are beyond all knowledge? What is the Transcendent one like? How can we penetrate beyond the veil and come close to you? How can we overcome the deep gulf in the heart of being?
Jesus turns away from nothing so that all might turn to him. He makes all able to enter into the muddy waters of human existence and, remaining calm, stand with all, holding all things close, and so come to you, the One Who Is.
A, Sunday 2 Jesus the Truth
“There is the Lamb of God”. Jn 1:36
John the Baptist looks at Jesus and exclaims, “There is the Lamb of God”. The two disciples hear him and follow Jesus and realise indeed that he is the Messiah, “the one we had been hoping for”.
John speaks truly but is not concerned with propositions. Jesus is Truth, but he is not an idea. He can be described but cannot be defined. He can be proclaimed but is under no one’s jurisdiction. Teaching about him is questionable if it pretends to contain him.
Jesus is Truth because he is true to the One who sent him. He is Truth because he is the expression of the Inexpressible. He is Truth because he leads beyond himself into silence and darkness and mystery. He is Truth because he is trustworthy. He is Truth because he frees his hearers and does not confine them in thought or act. He is Truth because he unlocks the human heart and the cosmos. He is Truth because from him spring power and freedom. Particular truths lead to the Truth who in turn gives the ability to know every truth. Only if the Truth is known will all be truly known. He is Truth because those who hear him discover their own truth. He is Truth because they can pledge their troth to him, and identify heart and soul with him. He is Truth because in him they can trust themselves. He is Truth because he holds all things in unity, not divided against themselves, not divided against God or man, consistent and whole.
Therefore he is indeed the Lamb of God, the Son of God.
It is possible to speak about Jesus if he is experienced. If he is not known from within, words will not speak him out. The hearer hears what he already knows. The speaker describes the Truth he knows from within, sometimes well, sometimes badly, always inadequately. Only Truth speaks the truth truly. There is Truth on every side.
A, Sunday 2 The communication
“He will baptise with the Holy Spirit”. Jn 1:33
Jesus holds nothing back and harbours no secret; he is unambiguous and unhesitating. He communicates every truth and every good. He communicates because he lives in perfect communion with the One who sent him. He is of one being with him, without division or limitation. He is indeed Son of God. Otherwise we are divided from the One and cannot be one with the One.
Jesus teaches the truth but more significantly he communicates experience of the One who spoke him. He communicates the Incommunicable. Otherwise we remain flawed, broken in ourselves since divided from the One from whom all things come. His communication does not cease, for those who receive are enabled to receive more, and so the communion progresses exponentially, for God is infinite. And so we come into unity with ourselves. We commune in our own selves as we commune with the divine Self, who is our very self.
Thereupon an immense energy arises: it is the baptism of the Spirit. In turn, therefore, we are enabled to communicate with others. We have something immensely valuable to give, and we give essentially ourselves. There is communion on earth, all in communion and communication with each other at the highest and broadest and deepest level, holding all things in common at last, not separated, or opposed, not at war with each other, but free to be ourselves with each other.
The world is projected as matter so that at last it might become the Spirit of communion. Jesus, on whom the Spirit comes, gives the Spirit. What more can be given?
A, Sunday 3 Leave!
“They left their nets at once and followed him.” Mt 4:20
They leave their nets; they leave the limitations of their world. They forgo their ambitions and fears; they abandon their ego and arrive at the Self. They discard their illusions and discover their selves. They struggle free from all that enmeshes them and follow Jesus.
They can follow him because they have already known him. They can listen to the Word made flesh because they have already heard the Word in Spirit.
They leave ‘this and that’ for the sake of all. They leave the old for the ever new. They begin a journey, which leads on and on, in which they continually move forward. They were once tied to their nets but now they are free, discovering things ever more wonderful, for the Infinite can never be exhausted. They leave all and move into the void, into mystery, into the silence of unquestioning Welcome.
The leaving is itself the arriving, for to be on the journey is to have touched the goal. The departing and the arriving occur with every step.
And so an immense power springs up in them. They will give freedom upon freedom, lightness of heart and openness of mind to all they meet. They travel light and win all. They have nowhere to lay their head and so they are at home everywhere.
A, Sunday 3 Follow me!
“Follow me …”. Mt 4:20
The Word came to Abraham, “Leave your father’s house”, but Jesus says to his disciples, “Follow me”. Therein lies the difference between First and Last Testaments. Jesus comes from above and leads to the above. And so they follow along the way, to reach the welcome of the Father’s house.
Jesus leads on, but occasionally he stops out of compassion, turns and reveals his face to his disciples. They see him; they see their future selves. He reveals himself to them and so reveals them to themselves. They follow him because he is their true self. It is impossible to resist him unless they destroy themselves in the process. They follow their own inclination in following him.
This following is not the subservience of slaves or the obedience of children, unwilling and unsure and dependent, for to follow him is to follow oneself in all freedom and maturity.
Jesus goes forward. And so he gives room and does not impose or cajole. He leaves his disciples free to follow him. He goes forward and the whole world joins him.
He leads us ever onwards and upwards, discovering more and more about him and ourselves, seeing more and more of the world, leading further into mystery, into every richness and beauty, exponentially. Others lead to finite goals, and their teaching is eventually exhausted. But with Jesus there is no end to the following, no end to discovery, reaching deeper and deeper into one’s own mystery, finding there ever more joy and wonder. He leads beyond himself into the utter mystery of the Godhead. Therefore he is truly the Son of God.
A, Sunday 4 Paradox
“How happy are the poor.” Mt 5:3
‘Happy are the poor, the meek, the merciful, those who are persecuted.’ Happy are the unhappy! Is this real? Surely success counts above all, since it is the way to survive. It is the mark of the fittest. The rest is asthenia, the pleading trickery of the weak.
Yet “God’s thoughts are not like human thoughts and his ways surpass human ways”. Only by becoming nothing can we become everything. The mind becomes still when the supreme knowledge becomes clear. It is only in paradox that truth is made manifest. Those who pursue wealth and power live intermediate lives, knowing neither good nor evil, being confined and partial. Only by understanding things in their limitation can things be seen in their infinity. God rules in weakness.
Jesus speaks his words in Galilee, but he is really speaking from Calvary. Only in the experience of the cross can the wisdom of his words be realised. He speaks from the cross and he is heard by those join him on the cross.
Jesus speaks in time, but he really speaks from heaven. It is possible to mourn and be pure of heart only if there is already a sense of the sublime. Only in the experience of emptiness can fullness be found, only by knowing fullness can emptiness be sought.
Jesus speaks of paradox and is a paradox. He is perfectly still and void, emptying himself, depending on nothing, desiring nothing. Yet from absence of any craving comes the fullness of every blessing. From him arises the energy, which is unconquerable. By his death, the love of God is known.
A, Sunday 4 Happiness
“Happy …” Mt 5:3
The first word of the first sermon of the first gospel is “Happy”. It is the seed from which the whole of Jesus’ teaching develops. He comes to reveal what happiness is, how to become happy, who is truly happy. He announces himself and his gift.
Jesus can speak of happiness because he is happy, profoundly happy, with the happiness, which he has experienced from all eternity. He is Happiness. He opens his mouth in happiness and even when he closes it on the cross in one last cry of distress, he is happy.
For God is happy, infinitely happy, not with the happiness which comes from possession and control. It is not the happiness of a self-sufficient and lonely Deity. It is the happiness, which comes from communion. God is Three and One.
Satisfaction and enjoyment, entertainment and delight lead to that happiness which knows no bound. Limited pleasure opens onto the pleasure, which is complete and calm, sure and untroubled.
God is happy with Trinitarian happiness. For that reason I am happy only when I am happy with you, my brothers and sisters, happy because of you, happy in you, happy for you. My happiness comes only in the context of your happiness, so that there is one shared happiness, one happiness as there is one God.
The divine purpose is to bring a happiness which increases exponentially: great happiness leading to ever greater happiness, promise upon promise never-ending, grace upon grace, because God is infinite and inexhaustible.
A, Sunday 5 Preserver
“You are the salt of the earth.” Mt 5:13
All things come into being, last for a while and then disappear. Yet nothing really disappears, for all is known. Though people come to birth and die, to God “all people are in fact alive”. It is humans who, in their short sightedness, distinguish between past and future, and locate things in the flux of time. To the One who knows, all that has come can still come again.
Likewise, all is preserved and saved in those who know. Memories and experiences, joys and sorrows, moments of success and disaster: all are cherished and brought to fullness in those who are one with the Christ.
Therefore Jesus – the one who knows – tells his disciples that they are the salt of the earth. They will preserve the earth. They will preserve the thoughts of thinkers and the works of art, the truths of religions and their rituals, the sweat and tears of everyman.
It is a double movement. Jesus is the salt, which preserves the earth and is changed by the earth – for he becomes earthly. So too the disciples will be changed by the things they preserve. They will be incarnated in them and identified with them.
Salt is self-effacing but effective. The salt does not dominate, but enhances the flavour of the food. Similarly the role of the Christian is universal yet discreet. The Christian welcomes all that comes into being and preserves it unto eternal life. Resurrection in eternity contains every value that has occurred in time. The Christian transfigures and transforms all that has been. “Behold I make all things new.”
A, Sunday 5 Exemplar
“You are the light of the world.” Mt 5:14
The Light has already shone within the disciples, and so they see the Light who sits before them, Jesus who is “Light from Light, true God from true God”. In the darkness of their minds your Light, O Splendid Darkness, has already shone, that flash of faith, the brilliance that shines where nothing else is seen. They have come out of the gloom of ignorance into the bright day of truth. They have abandoned duplicity and ignorance, refusal and hate. They have come to that universality of comprehension where they are sensitive to all, aware of all and open to all. They have been enlightened and they are light, O Father of all lights.
They have been transfigured within and now their transfiguration is to be manifested without. Christians are enlightened, and enlightening. They are the high point of knowledge and light. The whole purpose of creation is to come to the universal knowledge, which they enjoy. The purpose of the world is to become your Light Incomprehensible.
The disciples are the light of the world, showing the world its purpose and meaning, its error and its beauty. They are the model for the world, and transform the world into copies of themselves. They see everything again a new light, their own light.
In Christians the hidden light of the world is revealed. The light of the world becomes evident in them. They are light of the world because they are light for the world. They bring light to the world and reveal the world in all its brilliance.
Ultimately, Christians who are light see the light by means of their own light. Light sees the Light by means of the Light. All is light, one light, your darksome Brilliance.
A, Sunday 6 Friendship
“… brother …” Mt 5:22
Brothers and sisters have the same origin, the same inheritance and destiny. They are modalities of the same substance, different yet not different. They define each other and reveal each other. Where shall the focus lie, on the difference or the identity?
Wishing to be your favourite son, your first born, your only begotten, Cain vies with his brother Abel – the first two brothers to stand on the face of the earth – for your favour, O God who made them both.
Jesus rejects all rejection of brother by brother. He even rejects the emotion of anger; he rejects the mental judgment that makes one call the other “fool’; he rejects the moral condemnation in the word “renegade”. Those who expel are expelled into the eternal fire.
Jesus wishes all to be friends and more than friends: to encourage and affirm, to be a revelation, each other of the other. Even the fool reveals an aspect of the wise. Yet the brotherhood of man is replaced by sibling rivalry, racism, internecine strife, civil war and genocide.
Jesus is first born and we are adopted sons. He is the eldest of many brothers, and his priority is not exclusion but confirmation. He does not claim to be anything more than the brother who makes all brothers. He achieves this by being rejected as Son. Jesus calls no one renegade, but his opponents will condemn him for blasphemy. He empties himself of sonship, just as he does not cling to his equality with you, O Father of us all. He is the eldest of many brothers precisely because he counts this as nothing, and proclaims all to be ‘sons of God’. Therefore he is not angry, he does not say “fool”; he does not say “renegade”. As he is the first-born, he holds all together in the one body and flesh.
So we recognise ourselves in each other, we recognise him in all of us.
A, Sunday 6 Respect
“But I say this to you: anyone who is angry with his brother will answer for it before the court …” Mt 5:22
He is angry with his brother, who is of the same flesh and blood, another self. Is he projecting onto his brother the anger he has towards himself? He abuses his brother with his mind, judging him a fool. He will be punished by the matter being made public. He will receive the judgment of his society, for he has not respected his brother as his own self; he has not respected his own self.
Those who are inspired wish to see others inspired, those who are free wish to see others free. If they respect themselves they will respect others; if they hate themselves they will hate others.
Respect means seeing the other as one’s very own self. It means acknowledging the good and the truth in the other. It means allowing them to pursue their own best interests. It means acknowledging their rights and allowing the free exercise of those rights. It means ultimately seeing the divine image there; it means bowing down before the brother, seeing his destiny to be made partaker in the divine majesty.
This is respect is given to all, no matter their condition, their status, their wealth, their ability, no matter their intelligence or health or institutional power, their age or race or culture. It is respect for the human being who in fact conceals divinity.
Alas for that person who is urbane but not courteous, well mannered but not respectful. The truly courteous person will treat others well, because they are in the image of God.
Anger is justified, of course, when it is directed against injustice, against the error that oppresses a person’s mind, the evil that inhabits their soul. But that is not the anger Jesus is referring to here. He rejects the anger that comes from self-aggrandizement and ego, from the desire to maintain status and fortune at the expense of others.
Christians respect every thing, and see it as holy. Christians consider the other person better than themselves. They look forward to the flowering of that person’s capacity to become as worthy of worship as God who is worshipped.
A, Sunday 7 Citizen
“If a man takes you to law and would have your tunic, let him have our cloak as well.” Mt 5:40
The Christian is a citizen of earth and a citizen of heaven, dwelling in the present and looking to the future. He is a dual citizen, committed to earth but first committed to the kingdom of heaven. This is so until “thy kingdom come”, when all is made one, when there is not longer the division between earth and heaven, state and church, now and then, here and the future. All will be one, with one law and one culture, namely the culture of love where we are all in all, everywhere and everyhow. There will no longer be any divorce or dualism or antagonism, but the marriage of all in all.
We have here “no lasting city”, O Future God, but we do support this present realm. We enjoy its vitality and contribute to its agenda. We do involve ourselves in its possibilities and show how rich are the treasures of this earth. It is our world, and a work of art in the making. It is the rough material from which we fashion your face, O Hidden God, transparently visible in every lump of clay. We take an interest in the affairs of business and politics, of education and sport. We enjoy the benefits of the state and its laws but are not tied to them. We let a person take our tunic and our cloak as well, for we know that our clothing is Christ himself.
We are not defined by the present situation but we define it and transform its very essence. We are prophetic, interpreting the past and anticipating the future. Our point of view, gently manifested, convinces by its excellence. Since we live above all in hope we transform the present. And the laws change as a result, and the configuration of society. Naked, having given away our cloak and tunic, we become once again the Primal Man at the beginning of creation, and we make all things new.
A, Sunday 7 Integrity
“On just and unjust alike” Mt 5:45
The disciples are true to every condition, whole and entire at every moment. Whether poor or rich, well or sick, honoured or shamed, they are wholly themselves since they do not depend on anyone except on You, who are true to all. They are without attachment or aversion; they are involved and independent, active yet free from the results of action. They are equal in every circumstance, generous to good and bad alike, fair to just and unjust alike. They are detached and therefore almighty as You are almighty. They are vulnerable too, since the Word has become incarnate. They are involved in all as the source of all, above all and in all, and therefore judge of all.
They are not shaken by events but respond to them. They transcend every situation but are not aloof. They do not lose their identity but discover themselves in every context. They are not disturbed by conflicting emotions, but display equanimity. They do not unwisely take on other people’s agendas but provide help in every moment of need. They retain their integrity. They are faithful to the unfaithful, truthful to the deceptive. They are transparent with a divine clarity, without duplicity and double meaning. They are wholly involved with every person and partial to none. They are compassionate in every circumstance.
This gives rise to the great peace, which comes from above, your gift, O Father of peace.
This is possible only from the standpoint of the cross which itself is the stance of love. It is possible on the basis not of ideas but of experience and conviction. The disciples have a greater brilliance than the sun, for they bring knowledge to every cell and soul; they have greater fruitfulness than the rain, for they turn evil into good, as you do, O healing Father.
A, Sunday 8 Serenity
“Do not worry.” Mt 6:14
The goods of the earth are unstable, like the earth itself, where all is transient. A life that relies on food and clothing, possessions and fame, finds at its heart the worm of anxiety and depression. The desire for food and shelter, beauty and glory, even life itself, only leads to uncertainty. The consumerist mind knows subconsciously that this world is passing. The fear of death and loss lurks in the background. The heart is destined for greater things, so that when it is built on instability, it becomes restless and anxious.
The time has come to find a more stable foundation. Jesus therefore urges his listeners to seek your kingdom first, O Rock of Ages, with heart and soul and mind and strength. Only your kingdom can give peace to the soul. Jesus’ listeners must free themselves from possession and the desire for possession. Enter into poverty of soul, setting all other things aside. “Do not worry”. Seek first the kingdom and its knowledge, its experience, its ambience and atmosphere. Know the other realm, beyond knowledge, beyond desire, beyond imagination. Only this kingdom can fill the heart. Then the worry disappears, for worry springs from attachment.
As a result, the disciples become open to all, involved in all. Seeking to possess nothing they possess all and relate to all. For those who are free from anxiety nothing is different and they are indifferent to nothing. Being free from attachment, they become involved in all. They possess all and all is possible to them. Jesus bids them not to worry, to seek the kingdom and the rest is given to them as their own domain.
A, Sunday 8 Pilgrim
“Set your hearts on his kingdom first.” Mt 6:33
We are all on pilgrimage, setting our hearts in direction of your heart, you who are the heart of all. We are on pilgrimage not to some place elsewhere but to our truest self where our heart and your heart are one. We are on pilgrimage to become truly what we are, to know you, the One, to understand the revelation of your truth and our truth, to be the one Truth. This is the true setting of the compass point: the heart pointed to your Heart. This is true obedience: to cease to be other, and to be the One, to be you who are in truth our very self.
The kingdom is the moment of recognition when we recognise that our heart and your heart are one Heart. That kingdom is governed by truth and justice, joy and holiness, and life beyond life and death. We come into your Presence, Father, and come to ourselves as to the temple more wonderful than monuments of marble and gold.
To set all else aside and to set our sights on the distant shore, the true home, does not make us unreal, but on the contrary makes us authentic at last, existent, fixed on the centre from which all flows. We can then go on pilgrimage to every place as to a shrine and therein find the sanctuary where the Holy One dwells.
This is the call to Christians is to leave on pilgrimage to the One who is beyond all knowledge and there to find oneself. The whole world is then granted to us, not as something alien but as a gift, as our own domain, over which we have authority and power, able to create a new heavens and a new earth.
A, Sunday 9 Apostate
“I have never known you …” Mt 7:23
After the long Sermon on the Mount, now comes the word of judgment. Those who do not listen will not be heard. They have turned from his teaching, therefore Jesus turns from them. They have cut themselves off from you, his Father; therefore he cuts them off from himself. They do not spring from him. They have no part with him. Jesus does not recognise them. You are Light, O Father of lights, but Jesus sees only darkness in them. You are Love, but Jesus sees only hate in them. You are Truth, but he sees only lies in them. You are Compassion, but he sees only callousness.
Jesus who knows you, his Father, cannot recognise them. He cannot know them or accept them. He has never known them, at any point in their history, which is perverted; he will never know them in the future, for the hour of judgment has come. He cannot recognise them since he cannot recognise himself in them. He has never known them because they have nothing in common with him. He has never known them, for they are not possible. They do not exist.
It is the moment of damnation. Whereas to look and know is to bless, to say he has never known them is to damn them in every aspect. They are consumed in body, mind and spirit by the frown on his face. His inability to acknowledge them is to cast them into outer darkness, to hell.
But not every turning away is apostasy. Some turn away from Jesus as outside themselves, for they wish to see him within themselves. They turn away from the outer Jesus and turn to the inner Jesus, come again from within. They turn away from what is untrue and scandalous, from false presentations of Jesus but not from his reality. This is not apostasy but the search for truth. They turn away from boredom because they seek the Jesus who gives them life. They cease to see Jesus around them but he is hidden. One day they will say, like Jacob, truly here is the gate of heaven but I did not know it.
A, Sunday 9 Folly
“… the stupid man who built his house on sand.” Mt 7:26
They look the same: the house built on rock and the house built on sand, but the one is real, the other a mere pretence, a lie. It cannot protect, but threatens death. It is the work of ignorance and deceit. Its builder is doomed to start over again. If he persists in his folly, he will need to build and rebuild forever, achieving nothing.
Revelation has not come his way. Though he has heard the words, he has not the ears to hear them. Although he has heard the Word of Life, he has not understood. He is profoundly unaware because your Spirit has not come to him, teaching him to appreciate. The glory has not shone in him, opening his eyes. He does not have the obedience required of a disciple. He has not found in himself the rock of his own being. Instead, desire, uncontrolled and dissipating, has occupied his mind. He is trapped in the absurd. He is made of sand, useless, infertile ground. He is sand and builds on sand.
A, Sunday 10 Jesus among us
“I did not come to call the virtuous, but sinners.” Mt 9:13
Jesus has come home, for he has joined the company of the outcast. He is where he should be and where he has, from all eternity, intended to be. He becomes himself when he comes to them. They are where he is most truly himself. They allow him to be what he really is, the universal friend. They are the narrow gate by which he achieves his purpose.
He joins the company of the despised because he will go further and join the ranks of the dead. He is already Lord of the living and the dead, and wishes, therefore, to know both life and death. He wishes to go where none has gone before and where none else can go, into the utter depths, to become the degraded one. Indeed, he is Degradation itself.
Joy wells up in him, therefore. Energy arises, and all his faculties begin to function. It is the full flowering of his being. In the company of the abandoned his heart leaps, and the whole world becomes delightful to him. Then, indeed only then, can he stand without shame before all humanity, triumphant and welcoming.
How could you not look on him with admiration and love, Father? How could your Spirit not come to him, acknowledging and approving? To such alone – and to those who follow in his steps – does your Spirit come in all fullness, so that he becomes the Chosen One.
A, Sunday 10 Jesus, the universal friend
“While he was at dinner in the house it happened that a number of tax collectors and sinners came to sit at the table with Jesus and his disciples.” Mt 9:10
Jesus holds all in being and takes all to himself. All things have come through him, and therefore he wishes to live with all. He is at ease with foe and friend alike, with the powerful and the weak. He mixes with Jew and Gentile, with holy and unholy alike. He is at home in the Temple and in the desert, in the house of Martha and at the table of sinners. Yet, one day he will be cast out of the city, spurned and condemned. He knows his future rejection but does not refuse it. He has the mind of God. He is the universal friend.
Jesus does not seek to change those who are different from himself, but shows that another principle is in operation. Love knows no bounds. The divine Heart contains all and is not contained. All are equally valuable, saint and sinner alike. The misfits know they are valued and so become worthwhile in their own eyes. They are not despised and so do not despise themselves, but open out to all. They too acquire a universal mind, welcoming all as they have been welcomed.
A, Sunday 11 The College of Bishops
“He summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority.” Mt 10:1
Eternal Father, you do not call Jesus, for he is never absent from your side. Differently from the prophets before him, he is not initiated, not formed, since from the beginning he is the Word. He is not called; he is spoken.
The Word of God is living and life-giving. Jacob fathered the twelve tribes of Israel, but Jesus by the potent seed of his words establishes the College of Apostles. He calls the Twelve and by his own authority gives them authority. He imparts himself to them. He joins their mind to his; he puts his words into their mouth. He communicates his emotions and his heart. He and the Twelve form one body.
Jesus chooses them in their variety – Peter the fisherman, Matthew the tax collector, Judas the traitor. In their diverse manner of their witness, the one divine Truth is perceived. Only in the contrasting sense of their words can the one Word be heard. Only in paradox can your divine silence be heard.
The bishops of the Church, in their diversity, give united witness. Peter, the bishop of Rome, is among them, not apart from them. He preserves the unity of the College; they preserve its diversity. And thus the Word is heard and we gain access to you, Father, who dwell in light transcendent.
A, Sunday 11 Holy Orders
“He summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority…” Mt 10:1
God is holy; Jesus is the Holy One of God; the Spirit is Holy and all together make the Church holy. For to be holy means having your mind, O Most Holy, your heart and your intentions and your outlook and your bliss. It means being able to enter into what is not holy and yet to remain holy. It means seeing all things as holy and nothing as impure. Holiness is the origin and end of all things.
Religious orders and societies and congregations and fraternities have arisen in time and will disappear in time, but the Holy Orders of the Church have been there from the start. They spring from the command of Jesus himself at the Last Supper when he said to his disciples, “Do this in memory of me”. From the earliest days of the Church there have been bishops and priests and deacons who together make up the sacred ministry that will last till the mission of the Church is complete.
Their task is to impart the holiness of God to all, and to absorb all into the holiness of God so that in the end there is only the One who is All-Holy.
The concern is not with virtue, which springs from nature, but with holiness, which comes from above and leads beyond the beyond.
The bishop takes care of all in his diocese. The Church is complete in him. The Church of Melbourne and the Church of Sydney, and all the Churches together are bound together in the communion of the universal Catholic Church.
The priest is to receive the gifts, to consecrate them and offer them and to return them back to the people in communion. His task is to decide who may present the offering, and receive back into fellowship those who are unworthy to make the offering. His role is to hold the community together in his being, maintaining peace among them, providing a bridge between heaven and earth.
The bishop ordains the deacon so as to forge a link between the people and himself together with his priests.
Thus your divine heart, O Father, and our human heart penetrate each other; your mind and our human mind become one; our human body is filled with your unutterable happiness, taking us beyond what is limited and passing to a state of adoration where you are known as we are known, where there is one knowledge, one reality, one happiness, where all is gift.
A, Sunday 12 The Church is apostolic
“What you hear in whispers, proclaim from the housetops.” Mt 10:27
O God, you are Light; Jesus is Light from your Light, and from his radiance rays stream out. His disciples are these rays. From the outset, before the formation of the world, they are from him and for him. They belong to him as he belongs to them: they are one Light.
Given to him in time the Twelve are chosen by him, called and sent as light streaming into space. An energy is released in them to establish and bless, to build up and pull down. They are the words of the Word, the teachings of the Teacher, hands stretching out to draw all to themselves and to the one Self.
During the time of mission, some disciples are publicly designated as successors of the Twelve Apostles, but all who are of the Light are apostles of the Light; all who are of one body with the Lord have the authority of the Lord.
Thus our knowledge of you, O Divine Speaker, comes through your Word made flesh and through the Apostles who are witnesses of the resurrection, through mortal bishops, their successors, and through the people chosen by your illuminating Spirit. From your inaccessible Light, radiance is sent to the furthest reaches of space. It is the apostolicity of light.
A, Sunday 12 The Magisterium
“What I say to you in the dark, tell in the daylight.” Mt 10:27
According to ancient tradition, bishops ordain a bishop. They join him to their company and bestow upon him their authority as witnesses to the resurrection.
The bishop’s authority comes from public ordination but also from an interior anointing of your Spirit, O Father of all. He is ritually consecrated because his fellow bishops recognise his personal authority. They recognise his authority and give him authority. If your Spirit does not choose him he will be unable to exercise his role. If he does not have inward knowledge, he will not express the truth outwardly. The inner and the outer anointing are one.
His external ordination unleashes the fountain of authority within. From deep conviction as well as from the affirmation of his fellow bishops, he expresses the ancient teaching of the Church. His words have power.
All who are inspired have authority to teach. The Spirit has let them hear, and from the fullness of their hearing words flow out. Thus the prophets too are masters of the Church along with the apostles. Prophets and apostles together constitute the Magisterium, the teaching authority in the Church. Your Word and your Spirit lead to each other in constant interplay.
A time will come, however, when “There will be no further need for neighbour to try to teach neighbour … for all will know [the Lord] … from the covenant placed deep within them”. (Jr 31:33-34) All will have become your Word and will proclaim your Word. Who then will be the teacher, who will be the taught? It will be an eternal dialogue where knowledge is given and received; given because received, received because given, inexhaustible.
But during this time of journeying through the night, teachers are needed. Having seen the distant goal and knowing the way, these teachers lead from darkness to light. They are your gift, O God, given to the Church.
A, Sunday 13 The Church is catholic
“Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me; and those who welcome me welcome the one who sent me.” Mt 10:40
The people gather for Mass, coming from all directions to one sacred centre. You bring them, O Source of all, to where they consciously know what they already sense, hear words that already resonate in them, and taste food that hunger has long taught them to seek. They come to themselves. It is the ultimate spectacle where they see what they are and become what they see. Spectator and spectacle are one. It is the gathering of the Church in prayer.
For me this is a great joy, for I love to speak about the things of God to the people of God. I share what is already ours and express what we already know, setting out the treasures concealed in us. They are not foreign. We discover what we have long known but perhaps forgotten for a while, once hidden but now publicly proclaimed.
We gather in diversity and we welcome each other as one. It is the great gathering of those with like mind and heart, with one mind, one heart, and one being.
A, Sunday 13 The Church is one
“Anyone who prefers father or mother to me is not worthy of me.” Mt 10:37
Jesus demands that his disciples prefer him above all else. Father, mother, and brother, sister: Jesus is to be preferred above them all. This is uncompromising language. The disciples are to shift their attention from all else and focus it on him alone. He is the centre point of all humanity, gathered around him, held together by him. His living and dying stand as the heart of human history. Heaven and earth are united in him, good and evil, knowledge and ignorance, even sin and grace. He draws all to himself. He is for all, so that you, O God, can be all in all.
There are many ways of thinking and doing. Only the very person of Jesus of Nazareth can stand as the unifying factor transcending all divisions. He is the one uniting centre of his Church. The pluralism of systems and methods is reconciled in the one who lived and died, and leads into the silence of the One.
He is with them and for them. He is one with them; they are one with him. One is seen in the other; the one contains the others. All consist of all.
By coming at last to the centre, which holds all together, it is possible to look at all and to identify with all. Jesus’ demand that he be the preferred above all does not isolate his disciples from all, but rather sends them out to all.
Therefore, whoever welcomes the disciple welcomes his Master and welcomes you, the Father who has sent him. His disciples, in their distinctiveness, look on each other and see not separate brethren, but their very own self, the one Self. The one Spirit moves in them despite their weaknesses. The differences between the Churches of Christendom show only the more clearly the one Person who holds all together in himself. The one Spirit moves in ways beyond understanding, so that in the one Christ all might ascend to you, the One who is all in all.
A, Sunday 14 The Church is holy
“revealing them to mere children” Mt 11:25
The cherubim cry out “Holy, Holy, Holy”, and cloud fills the sanctuary. The Holy One is seen and not seen, known and unknown, beyond knowledge and yet revealing himself, transcendent and yet drawing close.
At this the mind collapses in awe and delight. Here is Truth of which all the truths are but shadow and figment. Here is Virtue before which all else is as nothing.
The Holy One reveals himself to the holy, and sanctifies those to whom he reveals himself. The Holy is for the holy; the Holy One transforms the unholy. This is not the work of virtue or reason. It is gift. With a sweet and just violence the Holy turns evil into good. The Holy is found in the unholy.
The experience of being made holy makes us cry out with the angels “Holy”, and we soar into holiness just as an eagle rises into the limitless sky. At last we are worthwhile, at last we are justified. At last we find our truth, and all falls into place. At last every faculty and every object is brought to fullness. Only the Holy can consecrate and justify.
The Holy Church is where the Holy One dwells. Despite all the scandals, the Church is the Holy of Holies. The Holy Church seeks out the unholy, and rejoices to find holiness in them. The holy go to church as to their own sanctuary. They acknowledge and seek to be acknowledged. And so the holy find the Holy, and there is rest at last.
A, Sunday 14 Priesthood
“No one knows the Son except the Father. And no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” Mt 11:27
The unique role of Christ the high priest is to reveal you, O Father. He chooses to communicate this role to others, so that in seeing the Son they might see you at last. He knows you, Father, and reveals you, not just by his words but also in his very person. To see him is to see you. To see him is to see within him and perceive the silence resonating in his words, and so come to rest in You Who Are.
The whole community of those to whom the Son chooses to reveal himself and therefore to reveal you, the hidden One, has that same task, to reveal you by their words and actions and to bring all to that place of rest where every heart can at last be satisfied.
There are some in the community who are publicly designated and appointed to public do what all do. The priest, chosen from among the people, has the task of speaking the words and celebrating the rites, which the people ratify. The priest’s words spring from the Word and lead into the Silence of your heart, O God. Your priest repeats the actions that are typical of Jesus and so well reveal him, the act of Eucharist. He speaks the words and performs the ceremonies but it is above all in his person that the people see Jesus and so see you, Father. He is to speak the things of God to the people of God.
The Son chooses to reveal you, Father, as he thinks fit. He may also choose not to reveal. To some inside the official Church, Jesus refuses to reveal the Father; to some outside the institutional Church he chooses to manifest the Father in all fullness. The priest too will choose to hide or reveal.
“The Father knows the Son”, but not just in some intellectual sense. Your knowledge, O God, is approval, and your approval is not empty-handed for it is the communication of your Spirit. And so the Word and the Spirit are united. Similarly in the priest, the Word and the Spirit are united. He reveals not only your Face but also the union of your Word and your Spirit. The priest, in his person, is the Word united with the Spirit.
And thus the priest’s every word is the revelation of the Word. His every action is sacrifice, imparting holiness to the Church.
A, Sunday 15 The world
“… the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven are revealed to you, but they are not revealed to them.” Mt 13:11
The vast panoply of the universe extends into the farthest reaches of space, back into the unimaginable past and forward to an unimagined future. The endless variety of thought and achievement, the dazzling play of emotions – all this wonderfully mirrors the essence of our being. We are all these things. All things, both good and evil, are our portrait. They are not other than us. They are our very self.
When at last we abandon our false identities and discover our truth, we see all these things as revelations of ourselves. The division into pure and impure disappears. All becomes reconciled and whole.
When at last the false views are abandoned which give rise to desires and conflicts, to sorrow and frustration; when at last the truth is realized, in keeping with the one who stretched out his arms on the cross, embracing heaven and earth as he hung there, then all is redeemed. All is loved as he loves his own self. All is made good.
Mary too, the ever Virgin, who refused every limitation, is the supremely fertile ground where the Word can take flesh. Rejecting every limitation she conceives the seed through whom and for whom all is made. As she looked out over the hills of Galilee and the produce of Nazareth’s market, she saw it as the reflection of the Word who was once enclosed in her womb.
The Church saves all when it sees all as its very self.
A, Sunday 15 The laity
“Imagine a sower going out to sow.” Mt 13:4
There is the sower and his many seeds. There is one high priest and the many members of the People of God. From among these some are chosen to be apostles, others to be their successors, others again to perform different ministries according to the variety of graces given to the Church. While some are designated as bishops, priests and deacons, the vast majority of the People have no special title. Yet all are equal by the one grace of initiation.
The laity are not therefore of lesser value. Mary, the Mother of the Church, is a laywoman. The laity is not incompetent, unwise, unable to discern. They are not amateur and without intelligence or wisdom. The Eucharistic Prayer is worthy only if they say Amen. The consecration of the bishop is satisfactory only if they assent to his choice. While the teachers of the Church must teach, it is the laity who decide whether it will be fruitful, for they too have the sense of the faith. When they listen the preacher can speak effectively, otherwise his words are become inarticulate. It is the Spirit in the people who brings forth the Word in the magisterium. It is also true that in times of stress the magisterium must speak welcome or unwelcome.
When all is complete, when the pilgrimage is done, the distinction between priest and people will cease. The time of ministry will be at an end, and all of us will teach all to all. All of us will be sacraments of God to all the People of God. So now we live in humility and in service to each other.
A, Sunday 16 History of the Church
“The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed …. The birds of the air come and shelter in its branches.” Mt 13:31-32
The great tree of your Church, starting from the smallest of seeds, the primal seed, which is the your incarnate Word, spreads its branches widely. It takes its shape from the great storms that have raged around it, and from the fertility of the soil in which it has been planted, the droughts and diseases, and from all the vicissitudes of the Church’s history.
Your Church, O Father of all times and seasons, is organic and living, in symbiosis with all life forms, forming them and being formed by them. It has taken on the character of Roman law and government, the ideas of Greek philosophy, the culture of the Germanic tribes, the mind-set of the Reformation and of the modern world. It has been formed by the defining moments of truth that have occurred during its tumultuous history.
The growth is organic and unpredictable, yet it is consistent, since the Church’s form springs from your Word at its heart. Your look and your welcoming touch, O eternal Gardener, bring consistent vitality to your Church since you are consistent. The Church is based on your incarnate Word and on your divine love on which he himself is based.
Your Church has entered a new phase, for it has come into contact with other religions as never before. Your Church will define itself in relation to them, welcoming them as you welcome us into being. The Church will give them space, allowing them to nestle in its branches, giving them shelter and food, being glad they are the song of the tree.
A, Sunday 16 History of the Diocese
“The Kingdom of heaven is like the yeast a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour till it was leavened all through.” Mt 13:33
The Church of Melbourne can trace its history back to the very start when a French carpenter gathered Catholics together in his simple shop in Elizabeth Street to recite the rosary; to when the first Mass was celebrated on a wooden box still preserved in the Diocesan Museum; to the arrival of Irish migrants and the formation of a strongly Irish Church; to the arrival of the migrants from Europe and then from the whole world. The Catholic Church in Melbourne is extraordinarily diverse and multicultural.
The Church is changing once again. Mass attendance has dropped; the young have little connection. There is a crisis in faith and practice. Where will all this lead? We do not know, only God knows. We are in a time of reflection and questioning, of new developments and change. The desert journey we are making at the moment will lead to new oases and rich pastures.
The leaven mixed with the flour makes the dough rise and become suitable for baking. The leaven, which is in a sense the corruption of the flour, makes the bread more easily edible. Thus death is a prelude to new life, and the dying of the Church, which is occurring in many respects, is the preparation of its regeneration.
A, Sunday 17 Ministry
“Well, then, every scribe who becomes a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out from his storeroom things both new and old.” Mt 13:44
The exuberance of joy leads to action. So it is that you, the Joyful One, give rise to the universe, in order that every being will join in his dance. Joy sees itself in the joy of the other. Joy seeks joy and builds on joy till there is one Joy, you who are Joy.
This is service: not the service, which hints at another’s inadequacy and crushes as it helps. True service is the discovery of the partner and the invitation to the dance. Who leads and who is led? To serve and to enable service: both are service; both are ministry. Those who serve are brought into being by those whom they serve. The service is mutual.
Thus the Church, in the joy of its holiness, seeks to serve. It serves by teaching the truth. Out of compassion it is drawn to those who are in need and gladly serves them. Who is served and who is the server? There is only one Server. God is found in service.
A, Sunday 17 The domestic Church
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field which someone has found; he hides it again, goes off happy, sells everything he own and buys the field.” Mt 13:44
At every level and in every way, the family is under attack. At the beginning of life by abortion, at the end of life by euthanasia, the process of coming into the world and leaving it are being profoundly disturbed. The very structure of sexuality as male and female is being brought into question by the rise of the homosexual lobby. The meaning of sexuality is being emptied by the use of sex as entertainment. The capacity for commitment is weakened by the frequency of divorce. Virginity is despised, and chastity is seen as irrelevant. The stresses of work and ambition put pressure on family life.
And yet the family is the very basis of society, for it is in the family that the deepest bonding occurs, between spouses and between children and parents. The family provides the motivation for much of what happens in society. The highest level of consciousness can be experienced in intercourse, where the couple perceive that that God himself abides in a beatitude, which they taste for a while. The family is the great treasure.
Indeed, it is for that reason that the marriage is counted as one of the seven Sacraments of the Church, which show the nature of salvation, the very being of God, and the work of Christ Jesus. Indeed, the process of marriage is the model for all the sacraments: the sacrament of baptism is comparable to the wedding vows; the confirmation is comparable to the ring that seals the vows; the union of the couple where they become one body in their embrace, and taste of each other most profoundly, is comparable to the communion of the Eucharist. The vicissitudes of family life where illness or dispute may occur are models for the sacraments of anointing and reconciliation. Even the Holy Orders are modelled on marriage since the family is ordered and structured with ministries of service and pastoral care, the revelation of love, the education in faith, the formation in prayer, and the gatherings at the table. It is in the domestic Church where the highest terms of Christian language are found, for God is Father, and we are brothers and sisters, the Church is a mother and we live in community.
The family is a Church and the greater Church must be remodelled on the family. Yet the family is passing too, since a time will come when there will be no more giving and taking in marriage. This will come not with the breakdown of the family but with its transcendence. The Church will leave the family to history when the Church will have become a true family, when all are those children to whom the Kingdom of Heaven belongs.
A, Sunday 18 Jesus is fruitful
“ ‘All we have with us is five barley loaves and two fish.’ ‘Bring them here to me’, he said.’ ”Mt 14:17-18
Out of nowhere, it seems, things come into being. From out of the Void, worlds radiate in every direction. Out of the stillness plants and animals bring fruitfulness to the world. It is as though around the quiet, silent centre the panoply of creation dances.
Whether walking on the sea or on the roads, Jesus dwells in stillness. He is at peace and all his actions flow from peace. His essential feeling is tranquillity, which is not passivity but the fountainhead of immense fruitfulness. His peacefulness is manifested in signs that astonish the crowds and in words that move the world. Above all, when he is at last immobilized the cross and motionless in the tomb, salvation pours out from him to every age and place, past and future, in heaven and on earth.
So too, those who are the Christ and of the Christ give rise to new and unexpected developments in every age. The Church is the great tree planted in the centre of the universe. Its branches spread out in every direction, bearing the fruit of life.
A, Sunday 18 Jesus is the leader
“Give them something to eat yourselves.” Mt 14:16
The disciples tell Jesus that the crowds need to go to the surrounding villages and get food. He replies with the extraordinary comment “Give them something to eat yourselves”. He knows full well they have only a few loaves and fish, but still he commands them to do the impossible.
Jesus finds resources within himself and teaches his disciples to do the same. He does not move from his seat. Rather, from him come power and confidence. Without losing his stillness he makes things happen. He shows his disciples what he can do and what they will do. Jesus does not dominate. He reveals himself to his disciples and reveals to them their real selves. He leads them to himself who is nothing other than their very own being. They gladly acknowledge that he is their true being, and gladly accept to be expressions of his being.
Jesus points them to their future. They will eventually do the same as he, since they are the same as he. He commands them: “give them something to eat yourselves”, ‘give them of yourselves, give them yourselves as food, rejoice to be food for them’. This indeed is the banquet of heaven: to be food for each other.
A, Sunday 19 Jesus brings harmony
“In the fourth watch of the night he went towards them, walking on the lake.” Mt 14:25
The disciples battle against the head wind, but Jesus walks calmly on the waters. Peter is distracted by the storm, but Jesus, the still calm centre of the universe, stays the same.
Jesus knows fear and anguish, joy and pleasure, for all are aspects of his being. But to him storm and stillness are the same, for he is equal in all. What is chaos, what is harmony, what is good, what is evil? All has its place and all is turned to good.
Jesus walks on the waters; he is where humans should not be, just as later he will hang on the cross, where the Holy One of God should not be. The storm is the opportunity for Jesus to bring his own harmony to bear, just as in the terror of the passion he will bring redemption to the world.
Contradiction and the paradox, chaos and the incomprehensibility of things: these only serve to reveal the One who dwells in light transcendent. Despite the tumult of the waves, Jesus knows the peace, which is of God. Indeed, he is the peace of God. He is present to all and free of all, involved but not distracted. He is open to all and at peace with all. In him all things find their harmony.
A, Sunday 19 Jesus in evolution
“As they got into the boat the wind dropped.” Mt 14:32
The violence of the stars and the tumultuous forming of the planets, the struggles of living creatures and the wars between humans: it is one great act of giving birth. Through the interplay of life and death ever-higher forms of life evolve. Indeed, the whole of creation is modelled on the life and death of the lord. And as he rises from the dead, a far greater form of life emerges. His ascension into heaven is the ultimate stage of evolution, reaching the Most High. All point to his incarnation and resurrection, his descent and his ascent. And so it is that matter moves to life, and to sensation, and to intellect, and finally to spirit, indeed to the Spirit of God. For it is all one great act of giving birth to the future, to heaven on earth. Thus the process of evolution manifests Jesus himself, and Jesus manifests the essential pattern of evolution.
He walks amidst the storm and is not disturbed. He enters the boat with Peter and the wind drops. He is master of that storm and the master of all storms, bringing them to rest, bringing the great struggle of evolution to its goal and purpose. It is a magnificent scenario. Jesus walks on the water amid the storm, and shows he is the cosmic Christ for whom all is a mantle, a glorious cloak. He has taken all things on himself and all things take on his character. All is made for him and he is made for all.
We too hear the words, “Come”, and we do not lose heart. We walk like him in the midst of storms, peaceful and knowing it will end well. Our calm brings calm to every situation.
A, Sunday 20 Courage
“Help me.” Mt 15:26
Jesus is sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. He must not give the children’s food to dogs, yet at the woman’s insistence he disobeys. Although his deeds and words are for the people of Israel, he cannot resist her faith. Indeed, the full power of the Spirit is at work in this nameless woman, as she asks to be helped. Inspired and with the ungovernable power of faith, with the intensity of a mother’s love and with her heart-rending cry, “Help me”, she evokes all the power that lies hidden in him. In fact, she brings him to birth. Because of her, he becomes what he is, and what he is destined to be: the Word made flesh sent to the lost sheep of every clime and colour.
Jesus leaves the confines of the Holy Land and walks on unclean soil; he speaks to a gentile woman; he heals a child tormented by a devil: the Holy One has no fear to associate with the unholy.
Like Eve, she has made him disobey, but he has wanted to disobey so that all might be blessed. At her urging he goes beyond the Chosen People and becomes Lord of all. He manifests his freedom and power. In his being, in his very body, he is universal blessing.
A, Sunday 20 Admiration
“Woman, you have great faith.” Mt 15:28
The Canaanite woman comes pleading and insisting. Jesus ignores her. But she does not give in. She bows low and utters the cry that would pierce stone, “Help me”. She speaks for herself and her child. She must die if her child dies, for her child is all she has and is.
Jesus replies but only to insult her, and calls her a ‘Gentile dog’. Yet, he has weakened. She sees her chance and wittily replies that even the housedogs can share in the children’s food. Jesus relents, admiring her faith in Israel and her faith in him; he grants her wish.
Why this seeming arrogance on Jesus’ part and hardness of heart? Why insult and refuse to help? It is because he is testing her. She succeeds, however, and he succumbs. Her faith conquers all and subdues him. She forces him to open out to the Gentile world.
Indeed, she speaks for all of humanity: “Help us,” for without truth there was no life back then but only an extended dying. This unnamed woman brings a universal religion to birth.
A, Sunday 21 Faith
“It was not flesh and blood but my Father in heaven that has revealed this to you.” Mt 16:17
Peter acknowledges Jesus as the Christ. In return Jesus acknowledges Peter as divinely enlightened: “It was not flesh and blood but my Father in heaven that has revealed this to you”. Jesus has manifested himself by sayings and signs, but only when the Father sends the power of the Spirit can Jesus be truly known.
Peter is overwhelmed. Light has shone in his mind, and power comes to his lips so that for the first time those words fill the universe, “You are the Christ”. It is the moment of faith, the moment of identification when he becomes one with the Truth, his own truth. He is reborn. He is no longer just the fisherman, the Galilean, the son of Jonah. He is of the Christ, he is one body with the Christ; he is the Christ. Peter and Jesus are not two but one being.
Peter does not really understand. He will for a long time harbour illusions, but the Spirit of God has touched the depths of his spirit. His will is not yet firm but his heart is now located within the Heart. He does not yet understand what he knows: he lives in the knowledge of things unseen.
One day he will at last see the Christ fully, and fully become the Christ. He will see Jesus not as something other than himself but as his true self. He will be glad to abandon the shadow of his personality, the husk he has been. The old self-conceit, the illusions will have disappeared. He will have abandoned the shadow of his self. He will become what he is destined to be. At last his heart will rest. There will be the one Christ.
A, Sunday 21 Empowerment
“You are the Christ …. You are Peter.” Mt 16:15, 18
In all eternity, once and for all, the Father pronounces the one Word, but now in time the Word is manifest in flesh. Jesus, the Word made flesh, speaks and his every word reveals him as the Word.
Indeed the people see that is something great here: a prophet, perhaps Jeremiah, perhaps even Elijah himself. But only when Peter is taken up into the mind of God can he see as God sees and know that Jesus is the Word. He has insight and finds the words to express it: “You are the Christ”. The power of the Spirit inspires the words and he proclaims, “You are the Son of the living God”.
But Peter doesn’t fully understand what he is saying. He is still caught up in the categories of the past, which the death and resurrection will break asunder. On Pentecost Day he will know truly and proclaim publicly that Jesus is the Christ of God.
With these words the outer and inner coincide; speech and insight become one. Peter is what he knows and becomes what he says. Simon, which means ‘pebble’, becomes Cephas, which means ‘rock’. Simon reaches his full stature.
And from this ‘rock’, as from Christ who is the Rock, the waters of grace flow as an unfailing spring, giving every pleasure and every fruitfulness.
Peter acclaims the Christ and so has the power of the Christ. It is an experience of power like none other, the power that makes and remakes the universe. It is every power in heaven and on earth, the spiritual power that contains every power just as the Word contains every word.
All other powers, miracles and wonders, pale into insignificance. By becoming the Word, Peter acquires all the power of the Word and in the stillness of his power, at the centre of the vibrating universe, he sees all things coming from him and given to him. The Church rises up from him because he has become one with Christ. Knowledge and power and the keys: all are his.
A, Sunday 22 Mortality
“Anyone who loses his life for my sake will find it.” Mt 16:25
Happy those who find someone to live for. Still happier are those who find someone to die for, someone worth more than life itself.
Jesus values his disciples more than his own life, and in turn presents himself as the one for whom, above all others, they should give their lives. They are indeed happy to have found the one who gives his life for all, one for whom they could die, for whom indeed the whole human race should die.
Human mortality becomes valuable if it is given in sacrifice. Otherwise death becomes a punishment, a proof of guilt. When there is someone to love, the fragility of life becomes the means of boundless love. At last I can die for someone; cease to exist just for myself and cease even to be, for their sake. Death becomes worthwhile.
Thus we transcend ourselves. We are taken into the One who is beyond ‘life’ and ‘death’, beyond being and non-being, who recognizes us as his very self. We are at last one in the One Who Is.
A, Sunday 22 Life
“He must be put to death and raised up on the third day.” Mt 16:21
Those who know both life and death, who are contained by neither life nor death: only these are truly alive, for they live with a life beyond death. It is necessary to both live and die so as to have that life from which all life springs, the divine life.
Jesus lives on earth as one already beyond life and death. His teachings can be understood only from beyond all human categories. This is the paradox of the Gospel. His words take us beyond this created order. Jesus manifests himself fully by going beyond life and death.
He knows our deepest wish to live, and he shows us how to find life in all its fullness. We must go beyond the life that is measured in days, nourished by food only, stimulated by the senses only. He gives strange advice: ‘those who lose their life for his sake will find it’. It is necessary to leave life, to give it away, so as to find that inner resource which lies hidden, that vitality which is uncovered when every other form of life is taken away.
He calls us to pass from one life to another life, to endless life, the life, which stimulates every faculty and brings it to its pitch. Then all the faculties know things unseen since the foundation of the world. That life has the energy that moves mountains; it has power to raise up and pull down, to remake the heavens and the earth. That life makes the emotions pulsate as never before; colours become brighter than any sun can make them. We come to the highest forms of sensitivity and knowledge.
This is possible only if we die in him and for him, losing our lives for his sake, dying as he has died, being martyrs as he was the martyr. Jesus, the Word made flesh, died so that from him life might pour out and give life to all.
A, Sunday 23 The Diocese
“I tell you solemnly, whatever you bind on earth shall be considered bound in heaven; whatever you loose on earth shall be considered loosed in heaven.” Mt 18:18
Long before the motley collection of huts and tents was called ‘Melbourne’, while it was still called ‘Bearbrass’, the Catholics used to gather in a carpenter’s shop run by a Frenchman in what is now Elizabeth Street to recite the rosary. Some time later the first priest arrived, Fr Thierry, and on Pentecost Day he celebrated mass on a packing case, which is still preserved in the Diocesan Museum.
With the discovery of gold, Melbourne grew rapidly and received its first bishop, James Goold. The success of “Marvellous Melbourne” led to the building of St Patrick’s Cathedral, first on a small scale and then on the grand scale, the largest cathedral in Australia
The Catholic Archdiocese, like every diocese in the world, has all the fullness of Christ Jesus. Our community of about one million people is the living expression of the risen Christ.
We are gathered around our Archbishop who is to be the witness of Christ’s resurrection. He is the prophet in our midst, whose task is to speak in words suited to modern ears. He is appointed to bring justice to our community and to society as a whole. He is our priest, gathering us around himself in giving thanks to God.
We are the Church of Melbourne because our Archbishop is with us and for us. We have authority to bind heaven and earth. Our united prayer is always heard. We are a covenant and even in disagreement we are in essence committed to one another. We are the place of forgiveness and salvation, for rich and poor alike. We are, in time, the sign of eternity.
A, Sunday 23 The Parish
“Where two or three meet in my name, I shall be there with them.” Mt 18:20
The parish is not a club or a business but a community, united in the one Lord, in the one faith, in one baptism, in the one God and Father who is in all and above all.
We draw life from each other. We find support and encouragement to be who we really are, and to come to our truth. As children grow to maturity in the context of a functioning family, so too parishioners come to their spiritual maturity in the parish context. Our community is the place of forgiveness. It is the place of successful prayer, for the one God cannot resist when the cravings of individual desire give way to harmonious prayer. Jesus, who draws to all to himself, draws near to those who live in friendship, in unity of mind and will.
The Catholic Church exists most truly and really when the community gathers to celebrate the Eucharist. The Catholic Church exists in Beaumaris and Black Rock because we are gathered here at Mass. The Church is found in the Catholic Parish.
That is why I did not want to live an academic life or a hermit’s life. I wanted to live with the people of God in the variety and the reality of their lives, and to speak the word of God to this people of God.
The word ‘parish’ means ‘a home away from home’. We are at home here, but this home is an anticipation of that home where we can acquire the full blessedness which our destiny.
A, Sunday 24 The Parish, a community
“Were you not bound, then, to have pity on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?” Mt 18:33
The Master in this parable is a grand tribal figure. He has power to hand over to the torturer or to release from unimaginable debt. He is unconcerned about the fabulous sums owed to him, for he has any amount of money. His concern, rather, is for forgiveness and mercy.
He gives the prime example of this. When appeal is made to his generosity, his heart goes out to the servant and his family; he remits the debt without more ado. It is a grand folly. But the unjust steward refuses to do the same. He is consumed by greed, and has a narrow heart.
The Master had forgiven the steward’s inability to pay but will not forgive his refusal to forgive. The Master treats the steward as the steward has treated his fellow servant.
The parish is the household of God. It is in the parish that the Church, in real terms, is found. The Eucharistic assembly is the place of forgiveness and freedom where the heart can soar. The whole wealth of heaven is there. Here is found the open heart and the broadened mind. The major characteristic of the parish is its freedom and welcoming embrace. No one need feel inhibited or indebted. There is no constraint except mercy and reconciliation. Nothing is owed. There is no tightening of the throat or pursing of the lips in disapproval.
The parish is different from civil society. We do not seek control or to have a greater share of health and happiness than is our due. We seek the folly of the divine heart.
A, Sunday 24 The Parish, a home
“The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king …” Mt 18:23
The master of the household is a tribal chief who decides every aspect of his community’s life. All must obey his command. He has no concern for gold since all belongs to him. What he wants is the quality of heart that makes his household a home.
The parish is a home where we can address as ‘Father’, “the One from whom all fatherhood takes its name”. The priest is called ‘father’. The liturgy calls us brothers and sisters. We have one mind and heart, one origin and destiny. We are made for each other. As siblings we flourish in mutual openness and understanding, and become whole. We discover ourselves in each other’s company, and reach maturity together. We feel we truly belong here, in this place of welcome and intimacy. We gather around the one table to eat and drink and become one body. We enter into the eternal presence when we become fully present to each other. We dwell in each other when we dwell in God. There is one God and one dwelling.
But the parish is a home away from home since we can at last take our rest only when we reach the fullness of the divine presence. It is a home nevertheless.
A, Sunday 25 Goodness
“Call the workers and pay them their wages …” Mt 20:8
What is the wage, what are the reward and purpose? Is the end evil or good? Where is this world leading? Is there history or only meaningless chance? Is there a direction? What are the limits of the future?
The parable of the vineyard workers is a teaching about surprise and possibility. Surprise, because no one anticipated what the master would do. Possibility, because the day’s wage can be used for good or ill.
Is there a vineyard in which human beings are at work? Is there a purpose, a harvest to be reaped? The evolution of the species, whether by natural selection or inherited characteristics or in some other way will lead, it seems, to ever-greater forms. We cannot prejudge what the future will be, except to suppose that it will become more and more divine, O God of infinite possibility, as we construct this world on the basis of our imagination, the inspiration and hope we entertain, the experience of wonder and bliss we have already known. The future of this world is beyond this world, for the human heart has already dreamed of things this world cannot contain.
On what basis is selection made? Is it on the basis of the fittest? But what is ‘the fittest’, the fittest to survive or the fittest to give hope? Things arise by chance, but what is chance? Is there something more subtle, which influences the mutation? We do not know. But when the good appears, nothing can stop it. It may have its struggle but it will have its day and its eternity.
You are the ultimate good, O God. All choices and selections are made in virtue of coming to you who are there from the beginning, dwelling at the very heart of matter. We are designed for good and not for evil, for you who stand at the beginning and the end.
This is the optimism of our philosophy. Our world is essentially good; it is a vineyard, which produces good grapes, from which in turn comes the wine to cheer the soul.
A, Sunday 25 Promise
“… are you envious because I am generous?” Mt 20:16
The vineyard owner makes an agreement with the workers. They spend twelve hours in the sun, trusting the owner and looking forward to the payment. It is their due. Both the workers and the owner are under contract. But the owner wishes to go beyond contract and arrive at generosity. Contract is one thing; generosity is better, because it is done in freedom. Contract is expected, generosity surprises. Generosity leads to promise.
Promise makes life beautiful, for beauty is the prospect of happiness. The promise of happiness turns even ugliness into beauty. Time is made bearable by the promise that it holds. Youth is full of promise and so it is beautiful. Yet the achievements of life cannot be compared to the sense of hope in those who look forward to what no mind has yet conceived or no heart experienced. Old age is the time of promise, supremely, more than youth.
The Christian faith knows that a promise has been made and will be kept. The promise made to us will be kept. We are beautiful because of the promise that you, O Father of the future, hold out to us. All that is in us will be brought to fulfilment. We shall be good for others too.
We know that this world is not just threatening or evil but that it is essentially good and will bring good. Every promise is found in us and made to us. Therefore we have a joy no one can take away.
The Persons of the Trinity are a promise, each to the other, since each is gift to the other. God is Gift, Gift upon Gift, Promise upon Promise. Promise is the very nature of God.
A, Sunday 26 Sin and grace
“I tell you solemnly, tax collectors and prostitutes are making their way into the kingdom of God before you.” Mt 21:31
The Pharisees of the Gospel were obedient to the Law, virtuous men, pious and true to their people, not like the tax collectors and the prostitutes. But they know only Law and virtue. They have not experienced the interplay of sin and grace. Those who know sin seem to be more aware of the working of grace. Having experienced a fracture in their spirit, they seem to be more sensitive to the inspirations of grace than those who are hardened by virtue. Sin and grace seem to relate to each other. In their pain they seek joy and are more aware of it when it comes.
The virtuous leave no place for sinners, and so close themselves off from grace. They live in their own hell. When at last the virtuous realise their own sin, they will perhaps abandon virtue and live by grace.
The whole world is destined to the life where all is grace. Therefore God looks with compassion on this world and refashions it by his look, for the look is full of tenderness full of anticipation, drawing the world from incompleteness to perfection, perceiving all the possibilities that lie dormant. God responds with light, for he does not care about sin but only about the possibilities of his grace.
A, Sunday 26 The Gentiles
“ ‘I will not go’, but thought better of it and went.” Mt 21:29
The Word of God is addressed to good and bad alike, to pagans as to Abraham and his children. The Word is addressed to all at every time and in every circumstance, even to those who do not know the Testaments, and are unaware of the living gospel of the Church. They too are favoured and commissioned by God. All in their varying ways are called to work in the vineyard, and to produce fruit that will last. So it is that the pagans of every time and place have the word addressed to them.
Those who hear the Word even in the silence of the heart become the Word and therefore have the inheritance of the Word. Even if they do not belong to the visible Church, they are not outside the Gospel. Those who audibly hear the Word, the Christians who have the Word given to them in such fullness, hear the Word resounding in the soul of the pagan, and rejoice in it. They bow down before the words uttered in the inner recesses of the pagan mind: ‘My boy, the one I cherish and to whom I entrust my wealth’. If we cannot hear those words in others it is because we do not hear them in ourselves.
The Word is accessed in the silence of the heart. It is also found in the glory of nature and in the sacred rituals.
Those in the Church who accept the Word but refuse to acknowledge in those outside the Church, are in fact counter-evangelical. They make the Gospel unacceptable; they drive the pagans away from the Word. The unheeding Christians, who say ‘Yes I will go’ but do not in fact go, are disobedient to the Word and prevent others from hearing it. They are disobedient and provoke disobedience.
A, Sunday 27 The Jews
“I tell you then, that the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.” Mt 21:43
The vineyard will be taken away and given to a people that will produce its fruit. Are the murderous tenants the Jews and the honest tenants the Christians? No! The Chosen people do not cease to be chosen. The Covenant was made with them and has remained with them. The opposition is not between Jews and Gentiles but between faithful Jews and unfaithful Jews. Which is the people that will produce the fruits? Clearly it is the faithful band of Jews gathered around the Jewish Jesus who will produce the fruits.
Throughout their history prophets were sent: some to be received, others to be rejected. This is true of the Church and of every religious tradition.
Jesus is the stone that was rejected not only in the history of the Chosen People but also in the history of the Christians. How many have tried to build the Church of God on foundations of greed and glory and not on the person and teaching of its Lord?
In which branch of the Church does the living sap of divine grace flow? What is the healing attitude, the prophetic act that reveals God? What is fruitful? Those Christians who respect the Jews, these are the fruitful tenants. Christians need to come into contact with Jewish fidelity if they are to rediscover their own faith. Jews wrote the texts of the New Covenant, for the most part. The symbols of the Christian faith can be understood only from within the Jewish context. They too believe in the coming Christ. They believe he is still to come, whereas Christians believe he has already come and will come again. We differ, but so much holds us together. The reconciliation of Jews and Christians is the model for the union of the peoples of the earth.
A, Sunday 27 The Christians
“He will lease the vineyard to other tenants who will deliver the produce to him when the season arrives.” Mt 21:41
The disciples of Jesus had come to understand that he is the clue to our human history. They witnessed to him on Pentecost Day when Peter stood and proclaimed the faith. The teachings of all the religions of the world lead to this truth: that there is one centre of the human race, one person who in his dying and rising saves all our dying and rising.
The dying and rising of the Lord is the saving moment, which is true on this small earth and true at the farthest ends of the universe, true for the distant future as for the ancient past.
What counts is not denomination or race but identity with the crucified and glorified Lord, an identity that leads beyond all the distinctions of life and death into the paradox of the one. This knowledge springs as a vigorous sap. It leads to justice and integrity. It brings the peace of God. It leads to everything that is true.
Those who identify with this Lord and manifest him in their lives are also saviours of the world. The work of salvation is perfected through all who are one with him.
But how shall we understand him? He is Lord of the living and the dead, of every time and place and person. He can be understood only by being seen from every angle. By becoming Hindu we will understand the Lord of the Hindus. By dying we will understand the Lord of the living and the dead.
A, Sunday 28 Consummation
“The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a feast for his son’s wedding.” Mt 22:2
The history of human kind, the history of God and of salvation is found in marriage. The purpose of the varied cosmos is found in the moment when the opposites become one, when consummation occurs, when the one is consumed by the other, loving to be consumed and devoured, presented in sacrifice, and drunk deep. Only when there is marriage is there salvation. Only in eternal marriage is perfect holiness to be found. Marriage is salvation. Salvation is marriage. The whole purpose of history is to become wedded. In the end there is marriage. Only in that union does time come to an end, an eternal union, an eternal copulation where joy is total. The end of time is not stasis but climax, which continues forever, since God is infinite. The end is the mystic marriage, where bride and groom are no longer two but one, not just one but ever two becoming one. This is the feast, as they feast on each other. They penetrate each other and give joy to each other, communicating their very essence. The whole world becomes theirs because they have gone beyond it. The world is the expression of their being. As they turn to each other they find the whole world in each other. They are able to unite fully because they are holy. Likewise, their union makes them holy. Indeed, the whole world is made holy because they are holy. They look at each other and say ‘You are my very self’. Their union is an acknowledgment that they are in each other, that they are each other.
There is only one bridegroom and one bride. In Christ Jesus, I am the bridegroom and all that surrounds me is my bride, and these I take to myself in consummation. In the end there is only one body, one flesh.
A, Sunday 28 The eschaton
“… and the wedding hall was filled with guests.” Mt 22:10
How will it end? When will it end? How describe the consummation of things. Is there an end? What future is in store? Will the harvest be good or bad? The idea of the future fashions the present.
What do we know about the beginning? We know nothing about the end of time. We do know, however, that we will move from out of time before time has finished its course. We will be rapt to the highest heaven before this physical universe has run its course. Then we will be in a peace that is highest activity, not static but vibrant, where interchange and intercourse are the essence of an everlasting communion.
The Gospel teaches that the end is like a wedding, indeed the wedding of which all other weddings are the anticipation. There is food, but not food of the fields; we will be food to each other, nourishing each other with our bodies and our histories. We will feast on each other’s love, and drink to each other’s immortality.
Each is guest and host. Each is bridegroom and bride, for all are being wed. It is the marriage of heaven and earth, of time and eternity, sin and grace, life and death, divine and human. There is no hall made of wood or glass, but the welcome surrounding us on every side, holding us close in an embrace, our embrace, the divine embrace. The grapes of the earth once produced the wine and gave joy to the heart. Now it is the joy of the heart that will be given without measure, the true wine, the true blood.
There will be no end to the wedding, no parting of guests, but an ever-increasing exhilaration. The dance will become more and more vibrant as we penetrate more deeply into each other, joy building on joy. There are no limits to the depths of God; there are no limits to transfiguration. We are each unfathomable. Eternity is the everlasting discovery of who we are. There is the exponential increase where the mind will explode in amazement.
We will not have arrived since we are nowhere and everywhere. In the end there is no end.
A, Sunday 29 The State
“Very well, give back to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and to God what belongs to God.” Mt 22:21
There are many communities: the family based on blood, the cultural community, the Church built upon the gift of grace, the State based on shared land. All intertwine and influence each other.
Church and the State have had a varied relationship: the union of throne and altar, the separation of Church and State, theocracy and the suppression of religion. There have been persecution, and perhaps now cooperation. A dialogue between the domains of grace and land will perhaps replace the confrontation.
Those gifted by grace wish to proclaim their joy. They wish to speak out their truth, to point to the future, which they already perceive, the vision of things yet to come where heaven will come to earth and where earth will take on the quality of heaven. There will be no separation of Church and State but one society both spiritual and material. The future of the State is the kingdom of heaven. We wish to prepare the world to come, to unleash the hidden potential that lies dormant. We welcome also the contribution that the State can make, challenging and questioning the Church.
Thus the Church blesses the State and supports it. Likewise the Church looks to the State for help to be what the Church is called to be. The human being is one reality, both material and spiritual, and both aspects must be in harmony. Church and State live in symbiosis and achieve their purpose together, neither one dominating the other, both in harmony, till earth is heaven.
A, Sunday 29 Freedom
“Is it permissible to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” Mt 22:17
Every society seeks freedom from hunger and disease, to have freedom of expression and choice. Every person seeks freedom from fear and death, to be welcoming and open to all.
Yet freedom requires the corresponding duty to allow others their freedom. One’ person’s freedom cannot be at the expense of another’s. Therefore, freedom of expression must be tempered by the negative effects it might produce. The stronger character needs to be sensitive to the needs of the weaker person. To every freedom there is a corresponding responsibility, so that at last all are free.
The State in its search for freedom will also allow religious freedom. But the Church in turn does not prevent the State from the exercise of its authority.
But only the Church can grant the freedom that is ultimate, a freedom from out of this world, a freedom that goes to the heart of things. The Christian, with the full power of the Spirit, can bind and loose, build up and destroy. The Christian, made free in Christ, can enter into the prisons and be at home in a world of chains. By freely identifying with all who are not free, Christians bring freedom to all. God is free and makes all free. His freedom does not remove human freedom but perfects it. His freedom imparts freedom and inspires to freedom. His freedom is a freeing freedom, not a dictatorship. The glance of freedom makes all free and so the path of evolution, under the watchful care of the One from whom all things come, is an impetus towards freedom. The path of evolution leads to full knowledge and fullest freedom.
And so it is that the Christian seeks a community, a land, an emotion, a heaven where every freedom is found, where we eternally make new choices, where we are all powerful, where we make and remake at every instant, within a vast field of possibilities, which are open at every stage. And this omnipotence coincides with the wish to be free with the Spirit and to enjoy her, to surrender all power to her and allow her to rule in all freedom. Thus God is the meeting of freedoms.
A, Sunday 30 The two commandments
“On these two commandments hang the whole Law, and the Prophets also.” Mt 22:40
What is truly valuable? What is commanded? In the market place the sellers cry out. ‘Buy this! Buy that!’ Is all relative, to be taken or abandoned on a whim? Is there no commandment at the heart of human nature that if we disobey will destroy us? Does no one want us? Is there no agreed discourse that all can share? What is right, what is the dharma? Or is there nothing? Is everything equally useful or useless? Have we only to fear the judgment of our fellows, whether we fit in with their desires and wishes? Are we in a world full of desires, forever unsatisfied?
Evolution has shown the path leading from matter to sensation to reason. Has the path stopped? Are there no further steps, so that at last we penetrate to the heart of things, understanding the hidden motives of each atom, able to sense the vibration of the stars? Are we on a path that leads to where we know and are known, understand and are understood, love and are loved? The path that gives the greatest happiness is the direction that evolution will follow.
At the heart of reality there is a desire for love. All the commandments are flow from love and lead to love. As we obey the mind of God we acquire the mind of God. Humans become human when they obey the divine command, and love as God is love.
A, Sunday 30 Love
“You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, With all your soul and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second resembles it: You must love our neighbour as yourself.” Mt 22:37-39
This is extraordinary teaching. We can readily understand the commandment to love God with all our thought, mind and strength, but to say that love of neighbour as oneself is comparable to the first: this is unique and saving revelation.
This teaching is second, but not as though there were a third. This is not a listing. The ‘second’ commandment is the last and perfect commandment just as the Second Adam is the last and perfect Adam. In this second the perfection of the first is achieved. To love one’s neighbour as oneself is to be like God who loves us as he loves himself. It is the one love. Love is the characteristic of the One who is beyond all characteristics.
Love is more than affection, more than desire and has nothing to do with greed. If we wish good health for ourselves we must also wish it for others; if we want acceptance and mercy, forbearance and justice for ourselves, we must seek it for others, no matter who they are. This teaching is the basis of all Christian morality.
Society seeks a balance between competing demands, and passes laws to ensure a fair distribution of goods, but love seeks identity. The duty of responsibility is surpassed by the call to love. When I look at my neighbour I see not only another person but my very self. What I want for myself I want for others because they are my self. We are one reality in love.
The whole world is my very self. I see myself in it and see it as the expression of myself. Its happiness is my own happiness. Its wretchedness is mine. The bonds of civil society are made perfect in love.
But love of this sort is possible only on the basis of sacrifice. I die to myself if I love others as myself. Only the power of the cross can give us the power to love
A, Sunday 31 Reform
“The greatest among you must be your servant.” Mt 23:11
Reform is required of every society, and of the Church itself. There is a constant need for reform, for we are deformed by our vested interests and ignorance, the fear of change and the play of egos. These constantly deform our nature and our grace.
Changed circumstances demand a changed approach. Indeed, evolution itself is a process of reform adapt to each new situation and bear new fruit.
Reform does not mean returning to an idealised past, but a refashioning in the light of future happiness.
The Church is reformed constantly or else it dies of inanition. Societies need to change or they will fragment and collapse.
The major stages of the Church have been times of reformation, as under Gregory the Great or Martin Luther or John XXIII. There have been many other reforms and reinventions. Society too changes with the revolutions that pump in new blood. Individuals reimagine their lives, and groups revitalise themselves.
We are informed constantly by the Word. We seek to form the young in truth, and to conform them to the Gospel. We work to transform our world so that it can fulfil its destiny. Then at last we will be transfigured into the glorious Christ through whom and for whom all is made.
A, Sunday 31 Scandals
“You must therefore do what they tell you and listen to what they say; but do not be guided by what they do since they do not practise what they preach.” Mt 23:3
The history of the Church is a history of scandals. Look at the lowest ebb of the Church in the 10th century, the corruption of the Renaissance popes or the child-abuse in recent years. The State too has a long and terrible history of scandals: venality and graft in administrators, deceit and corruption in the police force, the horrors of totalitarian regimes. What has been done to humans by humans is appalling, and the worst we can imagine has already been done.
Scandals are profoundly unsettling. Human being have lost faith in human nature. Faith disappears, hope vanishes, love and intimacy become impossible, for whom can you trust. The wounds go dep. God becomes incredible, for if he cannot be seen in humans where can he be seen?
Into all this mess, Jesus comes. Where there has been betrayal he comes with fidelity. Where there has been hypocrisy he speaks the truth. Where there has been fraud, he is there, set firm on the hill of Calvary. He shows his love till the end and so convinces us that after all, there is One who loves us beyond all.
So in the midst of scandal we wish to be true and to manifest the One who is true. By our fidelity we can convince others of the fidelity that is there at the start and will outlast all human betrayal. The Truth will at last turn all falseness into blessing. In the end the Truth will save even the lie.
A, Sunday 32 Death
“… the door was closed.” Mt 25:10
When our ambitions are confined in time, the end of time is terrible. The threat of time’s passing hangs over the possessions and pleasures of a few days. But if we transcend time, death becomes relative. We are involved without being attached. We become detached without being indifferent. Existence in time becomes an expression of our eternal nature.
This wisdom is the supply of oil the wise virgins take with them. Even if they fall asleep at one level, their awareness at the deepest level does not cease. They are ready for any situation.
Yet death has its purpose, for it gives impetus to life. It turns the moment of truth into an act of supreme value. Nothing is put off to some cycle of reincarnations into the indefinite future. Animals do not transcend life and death. The human being has a knowledge that transcends these limits.
Indeed, we stand in defiance of death, turning it into martyrdom: a witness to what we stand for. Thus it ceases to be a sign of punishment and becomes a moment of salvation. It becomes good.
But for those who do not see things this way, death is seen as loss, as mere negativity. It is not seen as an opportunity to know the inmost self, that heart at the centre of the heart. For them the door is closed.
The prospect of death unleashes an immense energy; the wish to achieve all that can be achieved. The prospect of annihilation calls us to die to whatever is limited and to live fully. Both life and death are open doors, leading to the knowledge of the Eternal One.
A, Sunday 32 Obduracy
“Five were foolish, five were wise.” Mt 25:2
Five were foolish for they did not appreciate the beauty of the bride. They imagined the bargaining over the bride price would soon be over. They thought she would come cheap and that things would be soon over. They saw no need to take oil with their lamps. But the bargaining goes long into the night.
The bridesmaids have fallen asleep. The cry comes, “the bridegroom is here!” But is he? Is it a false alarm? The wise virgins are cautious. If they share their oil they may all fail to greet the bridegroom when he comes. Perhaps there is still time. So the five foolish bridesmaids should go to purchase oil.
But the bridegroom does come and the foolish ones find themselves outside. They are excluded. “I do not know you.” Is this not cruel? Should not the bridegroom open to them? They are foolish. Should they not be forgiven their folly?
But when opportunity comes, why do we refuse to take it? What folly is at work? Why has the glory of God not shone in the heart?
God imparts his grace and withdraws his grace. Wisdom is a gift from above and God grants it as he wishes. He is God, free to give and free to withhold. He makes and he breaks. He blesses with wisdom and he condemns with folly. He shows thus that he is God, supreme and free.
In the long run will he be merciful to those to whom the door has been closed?
A, Sunday 33 The last judgment
“… a long time after, the master of the those servants came back and went through his accounts with them.” Mt 25:19
The master goes through his accounts and learns from each what they have done. All wait for his judgment. Nothing is unknown, uninvestigated, all is laid bare, the good and the bad. And he rewards them, “Well done …. I will trust you with greater”, or “You wicked and lazy servant …. Throw him out into the dark”.
Judgment can finally be given only when human history is complete, for we do not yet know the value of things. A small act of kindness is not understood in its repercussions till the end of time. Similarly for the passing insult, its effects will be understood only in the long run.
It is the Father who judges since he is the beginning and end of all, but every human being too stands as judge, for all will be known to all. We will know as we are known. Some do not fear the judgment of God but they must face the judgment of their fellows as well.
Every good deed is rewarded, and every evil deed is punished. That is a great relief to all, as they know that they can be free of their wrongdoing. They can also be acknowledged for the good things they have done which all too often go by unacknowledged and unappreciated. The final judgment on the whole human race helps to alleviate the sense of injustice every person feels.
It is a judgment on the Father too, for at last we will understand his purposes. All will be made clear and we will be able to say with full conviction, “Holy, Holy, Holy” is the One who has brought justice to bear despite the seeming victory of evil.
And the judgment does not end, for we will increasingly understand the works of God as we understand each other. We will see more and more clearly how just God has been and how infinitely valuable our acts have been. The judgement is eternally given, eternally liberating.
A, Sunday 33 The particular judgment
“Well done, good and faithful servant; you have shown you can be faithful in small things, I will trust you with greater; come and join in your master’s happiness.” Mt 25:21
During the eulogy at funerals, those who were close to the deceased speak appreciatively about them. But what do they really know of the inner hopes and sorrows, the secret moments of enlightenment and deceit. But nevertheless they are reviewing the life of the deceased, and their comments will be heard at the judgment seat of the just One, when all are brought to account. The eulogy will be noted in their defence.
The wise Father knows all and can situate every act in the overall scheme of things, knowing its value in its wider context. Jesus who knew the full extent of good and evil is sensitive to the good in the evil act, and the evil in the seemingly good act.
We give an account of our stewardship: ‘You gave me five talents; here are five more that I have made’. Will he have wanted ten more? But the words are addressed individually, “Well done”.
Those who have led holy lives on earth will not have to wait for the end of history to enjoy something of the beatific vision of heaven. Already the saints, those known and those unknown, experience something of the eternal joy. But their joy is not complete till they have risen bodily from the dead together with all who have died and with those who are still alive. Only then will the beatific vision be complete, for then all are known and all know all.
Even in this mortal life we undergo the particular judgment, at every moment, in every act. And we receive even now the reward of the particular acts we perform. For judgment occurs at every moment in life.
The kindly Father knows and his knowledge is powerful. His look is a look of fire, to bring warmth to those of whom he approves and condemnation to those who deserve his anger.
A, Christ the Universal King Hell
“Go away from me, with your curse upon you, to the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” Mt 25:41
“Go away from me.” With these terrible words they are driven away, those who can have no part with the Son of Man.
Is there anyone who has in no way and at no time had compassion? We do not know but the principle is stated clearly. Those who showed no compassion to others can have no part with the compassionate Father.
They did not seek the company of strangers; therefore they are at odds with themselves. They did nothing; therefore they are undone. They brought no blessing; therefore they are cursed. Cutting themselves off from those in need, they have earned the condemnation, ‘Depart from me’.
To be with the Son of Man is heaven; to be without him, is to be in eternal torment. Separated from the Son of Man but they are absent from themselves, at odds with the self. They are dislocated from themselves, essentially divided, dismantled.
The divine curse is upon them. They have no part in the world to come but are assigned to another condition, that terrible fire of which ordinary fire is a pale comparison, not the Spirit of happiness but the anti-spirit that consumes.
This is the nature of things. They have chosen their own future, programmed their own destiny. It is the blowback. Only in the end do they realise the truth and their realisation is the moment of horror.
Will anyone go to hell? Is anyone already in hell? We do not know, but we know the possibility. If God cannot condemn to hell his blessing in heaven lacks meaning.
A, Christ the Universal King Heaven
“Come, you whom my Father has blessed, take for your heritage the kingdom prepared for you since the foundation of the world.” Mt 25:34
What can finally satisfy the human heart? When will we come to rest and say ‘Yes, our heart is bursting with every delight and can ask no more.’? When will the great search be complete?
Jesus comes at last and says ‘come’. It is the homecoming, the arrival, the entry into intimacy, the penetration into the divine heart. There will be no end of coming, for the Father’s heart is fathomless. It will be a falling eternally into the arms of the One who eternally says ‘Come’.
They have visited the sick and clothed the naked. They have not done so consciously out of love for Christ but consciously out of love for the dispossessed. They are of one mind with the Father. The Son of Man recognises them. The compassionate Jesus recognises the compassionate. He welcomes those who are of the same mind and heart as himself. They are of infinite value to him because they have valued those whom others have not valued.
Blessed by the Father and welcomed by the Son they are now given the kingdom prepared for them since the foundation of the world. The whole of reality has been prepared for them. The whole purpose of creation is their happiness. They are heirs to all reality. All that is of God is theirs. All is gift since they have given themselves to others without counting the cost. They are to take all to themselves since they took the despised into their arms. They did not see themselves as separate but saw the outcast as their very selves. Therefore all creation is their very self. Thus there is one heart, one mind. All is one.