Thursday, 29 March 2018

ST. JOHN 5:22-23


Continuing the meditation on chapter 5 of the Holy Gospel according to St. John, this Holy Thursday, it is good to recall the Sacred Triduum is active remembering of all Jesus teaches, does for us.

It is part of the truth-witnessing of the Church, of our faith, that in the liturgies of Christmas, Epiphany, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, the Easter Vigil, Easter Sunday, and at the consecration in every Holy Mass, we proclaim in the present tense, the personal tense: this is the night; this is the day; this is My body, this is My blood.

We tend to think, mainly because of what our eyes perceive externally, of heaven as the place where God dwells, above us.

Yet the reality is that God is not above us, in the spatial sense of an above or a below.

True He is beyond the confines of the cosmos, which is finite, that is has a limit, even if with the best of scientific instruments, we humans cannot ‘see’, as we can for example at the shoreline where the limit of the ocean is.

God, Father, Son, Holy Spirit is present in all places, in everyone: LORD, You have probed me, You know me: You know when I sit and stand; You understand my thoughts from afar. You sift through my travels and my rest; with all my ways You are familiar. Even before a word is on my tongue, LORD, You know it all. Behind and before You encircle me and rest Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, far too lofty for me to reach. Where can I go from Your spirit? From Your presence, where can I flee? If I ascend to the heavens, You are there; if I lie down in Sheol, there You are. If I take the wings of dawn and dwell beyond the sea, Even there Your hand guides me, Your right hand holds me fast. If I say, “Surely darkness shall hide me, and night shall be my light” Darkness is not dark for You, and night shines as the day. Darkness and light are but one. You formed my inmost being; You knit me in my mother’s womb. I praise You, because I am wonderfully made; wonderful are your works! My very self You know. [Ps.139:1-14]

He is God within, because Jesus dwells among us, as St. Paul teaches: ......Christ is all and in all. [Col.3:11], for the Holy Trinity lives within every human being, for we are immortal souls in His image and likeness, alive because He has created us, breathed life into us: …..the Kingdom of God is within you. [Lk.17:21], For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly await for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He Himself is able to subdue all things to Himself. [Phil. 3:20,21].

Again, it is vital to hear, to open wide the doors of our beings to, that we be penetrated by all the words and actions of Jesus.

V.22=For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgement to the Son…..

This is part of the subduing St. Paul refers to.

We have revealed to us how Jesus judges in Mt. 25:31-46, where we see judgement is just and merciful, just because judgement is based upon the free choices we have made to love or not love, merciful because Jesus Christ presents Himself in the ‘disguise’ of every human being we encounter, presents Himself at the same time as the opportune moment to choose to love or not love.

Love is not static, but active, active as external gestures of service, forgiveness, patience, listening, truth speaking; interiorly as intercessory prayer for others.

Indeed, we should be conscious that judgement occurs each time we make a choice to love, or not.

If we choose love, then …of His fullness we have all received grace for grace. [Jn.1:16], if we choose not to love then immediately, with for example the Jesus Prayer, trust in Divine Mercy, we beg forgiveness and begin again, for in Him in every moment we are graced to begin again.

V.23=that all should honour the Son just as they honour the Father. He who does not honour the Son does not honour the Father who sent Him.

When I was a boy, seventy plus years ago, by teaching from my grandfather, indeed by osmosis from society in general, children were taught to honour and be honourable.

To honour, for example, Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament by genuflecting on entering and leaving the Church, by bowing our heads when hearing His Holy Name; parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, by using the proper honourific; likewise we boys were taught to honour our elders and women, by rising if we were seated and they entered a room, by holding doors open for them, making sure we gave them our seat on the trolley bus.

Personal honour is to have integrity, to treat ourselves with respect, thus to be an honourable person who moves through life, in a secular sense, with dignified self-confidence, speaks truth, yes obeys the laws and customs of the country, so long as neither of those contravene the law of God, for that would be dishonourable.

To honour the Father and the Son, possible by cooperating with the Holy Spirit – which is to honour Him – is to live the Gospel with our lives without compromise, to love one another, for that at its core is how we honour the Father and the Son, remembering we have the grace-gift of the Holy Spirit to do so, because Jesus in His Passion and Death, embraced dishonour, humiliation, for us.

I urge you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship. Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect. [cf. Rm.12:1]

Friday, 16 March 2018

St. John 5:19-21


St. John Paul frequently referred to the great treasury of the Church from which we can always draw gifts ever ancient and ever new.

Within this treasury, in the last century, were added the documents of the Second Vatican Council, of which the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation is a particular treasure, known by its Latin title: Dei Verbum – the Word of God. The Church has always venerated the divine Scriptures just as she venerates the body of the Lord, since, especially in the sacred liturgy, she unceasingly receives and offers to the faithful the bread of life from the table both of God's word and of Christ's body….. [, para.21]

This came to mind early in the morning when, for spiritual reading, I took up again THE MYSTERY OF EASTER, by Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa: The very words uttered by Jesus in His life….are raised to a new state by the resurrection. They become freed from their time limitations and acquire universal absoluteness. No longer just sapiential or prophetic teaching, they can be seen for what they are: “words that do not pass away,” the Word of God.

In the context of “universal absoluteness”, since we know the word of God is “…living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of thoughts and intent of the heart. [Heb.4:12], we should not simply ‘read’ Sacred Scripture, but hear it as well, for each word, most importantly each word spoken by Jesus, in its universal absoluteness, living and powerful, is, by the Holy Spirit, spoken directly to each of us individually.

As mentioned before, St. John does not give us the explicit statement to which Jesus begins to reply in 5:19, nonetheless this great teaching of Jesus from verse 19 to 47 is more than just a reply: it is revelation.

v.19=Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.”

While here the Holy Spirit is not named specifically by Jesus, this is nonetheless a Trinitarian teaching, for the unity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is unique, indivisible – the Three Persons [unique], One God [indivisible] – this is part of the great revelation within the Gospel accounts of the life and teaching of Jesus.

This is a comforting truth:  the Three Persons of the Trinity as One God love-work thus:  while we tend to attribute creation to the Father, redemption to the Son, sanctification to the Holy Spirit, all divine acts of love are Trinitarian, the work of each Person is love for us, beyond the human mind to comprehend, and the dynamic-binding communion of love which makes the Three distinct Persons simultaneously One God. 

This is not some mathematical conundrum to be solved, not some scientific mystery challenging us to comprehend, nor is it even a theological enigma to burn out our brains as we try and ‘get it’!

St. Basil the Great is very blunt on this point: When the Lord taught us the doctrine of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, He did not make arithmetic part of this gift! He did not say, ‘In the first, second, or third’ or ‘In one, two and three’…There is one God and Father, one Only-Begotten Son, and one Holy Spirit…..

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us: The mystery of the Holy Trinity is the central mystery of Christian faith and life. It is the mystery of God in Himself. It is therefore the source of all the other mysteries of faith, the light that enlightens them….The whole history of salvation is identical with the history of the way and means by which the one true God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit reveals Himself …. ‘and reconciles and unites with Himself those who turn away from sin’……God’s works reveal who He is in Himself; the mystery of His inmost being enlightens our understanding of all His works……[paras. 234, 236] and in para. 256 this beautiful quote from St. Gregory Nazianzus :…..Each Person considered in Himself is entirely God…..the Three considered together…I have not even begun to think of unity when the Trinity bathes me in its splendour.

V.20=For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel.

While I recall these words from Fr. Teilhard de Chardin, I do not remember exactly from which of his writings they come, nonetheless they have been in my heart for years: By means of all created things, without exception, the divine assails us, penetrates us, and molds us. [see Isaiah 64:]

The heavens declare the glory of God[Ps.18(19)]-creation eagerly awaits for the revealing of the sons of God[Rm.8.19].

The wrath of God is indeed being revealed from heaven against every impiety and wickedness of those who suppress the truth by their wickedness. For what can be known about God is evident to them, because God made it evident to them. Ever since the creation of the world, His invisible attributes of eternal power and divinity have been able to be understood and perceived in what He has made.  As a result, they have no excuse; for although they knew God they did not accord Him glory as God or give Him thanks. Instead, they became vain in their reasoning, and their senseless minds were darkened. [Rm.1;1-20]

Today as I write the news reports the death of Stephan Hawking, among whose works over the years I read, when published, his A BRIEF HISTORY OF TIME and THE GRAND DESIGN.

Hawking, not unlike countless scientists, philosophers, indeed some people who profess themselves to be believers, but approach revealed truth with a pick and choose what suits mentality, struck me, when I finished reading A BRIEF HISTORY OF TIME, as someone who, for all his intellectual brilliance, missed it, didn’t get it: IT being objective truth.

In A Brief History of Time Hawking notes that: “We find ourselves in a bewildering world. We want to make sense of what we see around us and to ask: What is the nature of the universe? What is our place in it and where did it and we come from? Why is it the way it is?”; and in the Grand Design asserts: “Because there are laws such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing. It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the Universe going."

Without the humility to embrace the Incarnation and the Incarnate One, all of creation, including ourselves to ourselves, remains ultimately incomprehensible.

We can grasp some of the components, for example, of matter, but not its totality; we can have a consciousness of self, but without that knowledge which enables us to fully be the person we have been created to be, living and moving and having being, within communion of love with the Most Holy Trinity.

Hawking deliberately misquoted St. John Paul as saying scientists should not investigate the universe, when in fact the Holy Father was simply showing them the right way to do so: Any scientific hypothesis on the origin of the world, such as the hypothesis of a primitive atom from which derived the whole of the physical universe, leaves open the problem concerning the universe's beginning. Science cannot of itself solve this question: there is needed that human knowledge that rises above physics and astrophysics and which is called metaphysics; there is needed above all the knowledge that comes from God's revelation. [St. John Paul, address to the Pontifical Academy of Science, Oct. 3, 1981]

In his book NEW SEEDS OF CONTEMPLATION, Thomas Merton teaches: Faith reaches the intellect not simply through the senses but in a light directly infused by God.

If we limit the teaching of Jesus in verses 19 & 20: “Most assuredly I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel.”, to some ‘limited’ spiritual/miracles constraint, then we risk, as so many do, having our minds darkened.

While Hawking and others, scientists and non, since the ideas have entered the common mindset, assert the universe began with the so-called Big Bang, they also admit they can only postulate post-bang and have no way of knowing ‘what’ before the bang.

Any child who has ever popped a balloon or blown a bubble to watch it fly and pop, knows instinctively, sees, experiences ‘what’ before the pop, and the simple objective fact 1 + 1 is required for a pop: 1-something to pop and 1- a means of making the thing pop.

Therefore, to assert that any aspect of the universe, of creation, including Angels and human persons, self-create is sheer nonsense of darkened minds.

The guided by the Holy Spirit writers of Genesis used their observations and experiences of their chronological time in which they found themselves and cooperated with the actual grace they were given to understand, and articulate, the objective-truth meaning in the treasury of revelation as they wrote.

In this great teaching of Jesus being meditated upon, if we sit still with open minds and hearts, hearing His words, what opens before us in “…what He sees the Father do….”, extends way beyond and before the so-called Big Bang, extends beyond any part of the macro or micro aspects of creation, including wonders and marvels, perhaps even other living beings elsewhere in the cosmos, medicines, technologies, WE have not yet found/discovered, but Jesus has seen, Jesus knows all about.

To be so open avoids hemming in any words of Jesus with our own limited attempts to reduce everything to the ‘spiritual’, for all Jesus teaches is that, to be sure, but much more: He teaches, truth, life, the way to communion of love: with the Holy Trinity, with each other, with our selves.

In all this marvelous work which we experience, hopefully in awe and gratitude, when we hear the cry of a newborn, watch a shooting star, see love for us in the eyes of another, this work which the Father does, the Son does, the Holy Spirit does, while we dwell as pilgrims for a time within the cosmos on planet earth, a temporary dwelling, a dwelling within a cosmos which itself will pass away, we are endowed with the gift of God’s most wonderous work: “For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will.” [v.21]

The Resurrection of Christ was God’s supreme and wholly marvelous work. ~ St. Augustine.