Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Cling Very Close to Each Other...

John proclaims the Divine presence of God in Jesus in his very first Gospel with the words:  In the beginning was the Word and the Word was God… And the word was made flesh and dwelt among us. And now in (John17:1-14), as he announces the end of the physical presence of the incarnation of God in Jesus…he passes the baton to us:

All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me.

 Once again John relies on mystical words to speak to us in that place in which the personal images of reality and life itself reside in each of us. John invites us to close our eyes and picture what being in a relationship with God really means. Note, I use the word “picture,” not “understand,” in an effort to prompt our imagination and senses to feel the words as a palpable, sensory experience, and know what being in a relationship with God actually feels like, tastes like, and smells like. This is at the essence of our being and what we mean when we say “and the “Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” God fully shared our humanity through Jesus as we through Jesus, fully share in God’s divinity. Anything less than that relationship with God would be reduced to mere acquaintance.

It is beautiful to hear Jesus pray for his apostles, not alone in a garden or in the desert but right in their midst. What a great model for prayer he provides us. In John there is no “teach us how to pray,” followed by the Lord’s Prayer, but rather it’s a prayer in which he asks the Father to bless us as we are called to follow him now, as we did while he was on earth, and invest our lives and love in one another as we glorify the Father.

It is, perhaps, the most relevant definition of what Pentecost means to us as his disciples. Jesus is no longer in the world. The incarnation is over. Jesus has been resurrected. He ascended to the Father. But we are still in the world and Jesus’ works are now in our hands. He is counting on us to be his presence to one another in his absence.

What if we imagined that the resurrection of Jesus was just the beginning and not the conclusion of the Gospel and that the promises of the resurrection are, in part, ours to fulfill? This prayer before parting is bitter sweet, after all Jesus is leaving his friends, but in many ways the sorrow of his leaving is replaced by the love he shares with us and we share with one another.

For some reason this Gospel conjures up for me the beautiful words that Oscar Hammerstein penned for Anna in The King and I, as she wishes for new young lovers, the love she shared and continues to share:

When I think of you
I think about a night
When the earth smelled of summer
And the sky was streaked with white

And the soft mist of England
Was sleeping on a hill
I remember this
And I always will

There are new lovers now on the same silent hill
Looking on the same blue sea
And I know  you and I are a part of them all
And they're all a part of you and me



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