Saturday, May 14, 2016

Gospel text for Pentecost 15 May 2016

John 14:8-17, 25-27        Philip said to Jesus, "Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied." Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, `Show us the Father'? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves. Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.

"If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you."

"I have said these things to you while I am still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid."

 Reflection       “We and God are bound in the task of giving birth to the Word.” These words of the 13th century German theologian, philosopher and mystic Meister Eckhardt raise important questions as we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
What are the implications of me, of us, being bound to God and God being bound to us? To be bound is to be joined, united and connected. Rather like being partnered or married being bound implies responsibility and accountability to one another. Alright. Though I frequently fail I intend to be faithful to God and God is faithful to me. I can get with being bound with God. 
What about being bound with God in a task? That suggests there is a mutuality or  exchange in which the relationship between God and us contributes to achieving a shared goal. This premise is a bit more wobbly. There is no doubt that I or we rely on God to achieve, well, everything. But Eckhardt’s words aver a mutuality of dependence. God also depends on us? Our mutual efforts are required to give birth to the Word? This suggest partnership, reciprocity and unity.   

Which brings us to Jesus explaining to Philip, who is still seeking external evidence of Jesus’ relationship with God the Father, “The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works.” Jesus is speaking of mutual indwelling, God in humanity, humanity in God; intrinsic, dynamic, interpenetration, being bound together to accomplish a task. Jesus is of course the first and perfect revelation of the interdependent interrelationship of humanity and divinity. And, Jesus passes on the essence of his beingness, the Word made flesh, by sending the Spirit to fill all of us with grace and with truth.

Returning to Meister Eckhardt’s words, “We are bound with God in the task of giving birth to the Word.” Which begs the question, “How are we doing?” My experience suggests, many of us are reticent when it comes to engaging in conversations about our faith. Here are a few conversation starters, and remember, as Jesus did always begin with prayer. Mine goes something like this. “OK God, you want me to do this you better show up because there is no way I can do this without you. Thank you. Amen.  Then we might ask a friend, “Do you  have any kind of spiritual beliefs or practices? How was spirituality or religion part of your upbringing? What gives meaning and purpose to your life? If you died today, what do you believe would happen?”  Once you have asked someone these or similar questions there is every chance they may say, “What about you? What do you believe?”

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