5th SUNDAY OF EASTER A John 14: 1-14
It has been a month since Easter. A lot has happened in our lives and in the world. Has the glow of the feast left us? It’s difficult on our own to keep up enthusiasm for the mystery and marvel of Easter. Life impinges on our daily routine and our focus shifts. At the university behind where I live, students are up to their necks in exams, term papers, summer projects and jobs. Easter must seem like a celebration in their rear-view mirror. Looking ahead to the next few weeks before Pentecost, the gospel readings offer a glimpse of the mysterious relationship between Jesus and his heavenly Father.
The 20th century theologian, Karl Rahner (d. 1984), is often remembered for his words on the future of Christianity. “In the days ahead, you will either be a mystic (one who has experienced God for real) or nothing at all.” Let’s pause for a moment in the light of this gospel and consider his words that, in the days ahead, we will be mystics or nothing at all. The comment has a defining quality about it, a contrasting of reality with nothingness. We ask ourselves if we have ever experienced God “for real?” Or are we shadow boxing with an idea and failing to match the reality of the God who created us? Rahner’s words offer no halfway house. One is a mystic that experiences the reality of God or experiences nothing.
In the years since the far-seeing theologian said those words people have become more aware of contemplative forms of prayer. The great re-discovery of it is that God somehow communicates the mystery of his presence in the silence of prayer. Contemplative forms of prayer, such as meditation, centering prayer, lectio divina, mindfulness, etc., offer the possibility of deep communion with God that surpasses all fear and understanding -cf. Phil 4:6-7; Matt 6:25 ff.
“If you know me, you know my Father too….I am in the Father and the Father is in me.” These are astounding words. Jesus always prayed as if God was present to him and with him. Teresa of Avila warned us that it’s a mistake to pray as if God was absent or on some distant planet. The gift of meditation awakens us to a very keen sense of being always in God’s presence here and now. Paul often speaks about a deep sense and knowledge of God, as when he writes in Ephesians 3: 14-19:
“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ and to know this love that surpasses all knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”
Fr. QQ – 05/03/2023
Is it possible that despite our discoveries and advances, despite our culture, religion and science, we have remained on the surface of life? – Rainer Maria Rilke.