When he had gone out, Jesus said, "Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, 'Where I am going, you cannot come.' I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." -John 13:31-35
About This Week's Prompts for Personal Meditation
I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. -John 13:34-35
As I have loved you. How DID Jesus love us? By befriending and eating with outcasts and sinners, collaborators and prostitutes, the unclean, the impure, the unloved. By stretching the boundaries of his own love. By self-sacrificial life and death. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have this kind of love for one another.
Love's challenge - the call to ever widening, ever expansive circles of love: love in all forms (Meditation One), to live and die for love (Meditation Two), and embodying the qualities of gentleness and generosity (Meditation Three). As we mature in love, our love and our actions have no boundaries (the Last Word.)
Beloved, love and let yourself be loved. Have a lovely week. - Suzanne
Meditation One (Introit) hWatever Way Love's Camel Takes My heart has become capable of every form: It is a pasture for gazelles And a monastery for Christian monks, And a temple for idols, And the pilgrim's Ka'ba, And the tablets of the Torah, And the Book of the Koran. I follow the religion of Love: Whatever way love's camel takes, That is my religion, my faith. -Ibn Arabi 1165-1240 The Essential Mystics, Andrew Harvey, ed.
Bride Ekklisia and Groom Christ, Unknown Illustrator of Petrus Comestar's Bible Historiale
I will go seek My bride
And take upon Myself
Her weariness and labors
In which she suffers so;
And that she may have life
I will die for her,
And, lifting her out of that deep,
I will restore her to You.
-John of the Cross 1542-1591
The first thing that must strike a non-Christian about a christian's faith is that it is all too daring. It is too beautiful to be true: The mystery of being, unveiled as absolute love, coming down to wash the feet and the souls of its creatures; a love that assumes the whole burden of our guilt and hate, that accepts the accusations that shower down; the disbelief that veils God again when he has revealed himself; all the scorn and contempt that nails down his incomprehensible movement of self-abasement- all this absolute love accepts in order to excuse his creature before himself and before the world. It is too much of a good thing; nothing in the world can justify a metaphysic of that order, and not therefore the sign called 'Jeus of Nazareth', isolated, so hard to decipher, so inadequately supported by history. To erect so magnificent a structure on such flimsy foundations is to go beyond the bounds of reason.
-Hans Urs Von Balthasar 1905-1988 Love Alone pp.83-84
The Bride Ekklisia and the Groom Christ, Unknown Illustrator of Petrus Comestar's Bible Historiale, detail
Meditation Two (Insight) I Will Die For Her I will go seek My bride And take upon Myself Her weariness and labors In which she suffers so; And that she may have life I will die for her, And, lifting her out of that deep, I will restore her to You. -John of the Cross 1542-1591 Romance 7:10-11 The Incarnation
Meditation Three (Integration) The Mightiest God A dispute once arose among the sages which of the three gods was greatest. They applied to the greatest of all sages to determine the point. He undertook to put all three gods to a severe test. He went first to Brahma, and omitted all obeisance. The god's anger blazed forth, but he was at length pacified. Next he went to the abode of Siva, and omitted to return the god's salutation. The irascible god was enraged, his eyes flashed fire, and he raised his Trident weapon to destroy the sage. But the god's wife, Pirvatt, interceded for him. Lastly, Bhrigu went to the heaven of Vishnu, whom he found asleep. To try his forbearance, he gave the god a good kick on his breast, which awoke him. Instead of showing anger, Vishnu asked Bhrigu's pardon for not having greeted him on the first arrival. Then he declared he was highly honored by the sage's blow. It has imprinted an indelible mark of good fortune on his breast. He trusted the sage's foot was not hurt, and began to rub it gently. "This," said Bhrigu, "is the mightiest god; he overpowers his enemies by the most potent of all weapons - gentleness and generosity." -Bhagavata Purana 10,89 c.200 CE Quoted in Pathways to Peace: Interreligious Readings and Reflections,A. Jean Lesher, ed.
The Last Word All men have a mind which cannot bear to see the sufferings of others. If men suddenly see a child about to fall into a well, they will experience a feeling of alarm and distress. Let them have their complete development, and they will suffice to love and protect all within the four seas.
-Mencius ca 372-289 The Book of Mencius
quoted from Pathways to Peace: Interreligious Readings and Reflections, A. Jean Lesher, ed.
Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; … I say to you, 'Where I am going, you cannot come.' -John 13:33
This enigmatic saying offers a most profound clue to the life of the soul.
More than a mere commemoration, or a way of collecting stories to share in worship, The Christian Year offers a guide to the soul maturing toward union with the divine. The training for the unitive life does not end at Easter. The most profound metaphor, and the one vitally necessary to practice in the contemplative/mystical life, is this liminal time after Easter.
“I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me.” While John's Gospel places this text in the context of the Last Supper, the liturgical year offers these last discourses in the 5th 6th and 7th Sundays of Easter, as if Jesus' teaching continued after the Resurrection. And indeed, John's multi-layered Gospel has a quality of moving in and out of time, written from a Resurrection perspective overall.
If these teachings take place after the Resurrection, as if Jesus had more to say but was interrupted by his death, what departure is he talking about?
The Ascension, of course. And what does the Ascension mean for the soul?
Like the resurrected Jesus says to Mary Magdalene, "Do not cling." You can not cling even to Resurrected Christ. The soul, growing into God, must abandon even this Presence, this revelation, this comfort. In this time of liminal detachment, mystical union takes place, and, ultimately, with this maturity the responsibility of bearing the good news in a broken world.
More next week.
We turn outward, attracted by the beauty we see in created things without realizing that they are only a reflection of the real beauty. And the real beauty is within us. And so paradoxically, the more we turn toward beauty, the more we turn away from it. For it is in the opposite direction. We turn outward and it is within.