Getting to know You
Sermon preached by Fr. Antony Hughes on Sunday, July 4, 2021.
I came across a quote by Marcus Borg in his book "MEETING JESUS AGAIN FOR THE FIRST TIME". That is a provocative title because it assumes that we have much to learn about Jesus, things we do not know and maybe things we will never know.
After all the God-man is a mystery beyond the power of thought.
We can learn much through historical criticism or Bible study for example. Both are helpful but there is another way of knowledge that comes from the heart. It is the superior way. It is personal, intimate, a meeting of heart to heart. Here is the quote.
“…life is ultimately not about believing or about being good. Rather…it is about a relationship with God that involves us in a journey of transformation.”
If our knowledge is reduced to a recitation of the Nicene Creed or a Bible study, we need to understand that we have only scratched the surface. For example, you may read every book available about Abraham Lincoln, but without seeing him and conversing with him face to face and for a good long while and many times, you cannot say that you know him. The four apostles in today’s reading are seen at the very beginning of a journey into the mind and person of the Incarnate Son of God. It is a journey once begun that never ends.
Our goal as human beings is not just to know about God, but to become one with Him. To become by grace what God is by nature. This is not done with sacred books, but with an intimate and all-encompassing experience of the Living God.
Think about any relationship. Marriage, for example. Joseph Campbell, the renowned professor of literature, comparative mythology and religion, once said that marriage is “the interview that never ends.” I can assure you by way of personal experience that this is true. Marriage reveals us to another human being. We learn things about ourselves that we didn’t know. Everything that is hidden, as Jesus said, will be made known. In marriage that happens…or should happen.
The mystery of the human person is as deep, or almost as deep, as the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity himself. Thus, the sacrament of marriage is, as all sacraments are, a pathway to knowing ourselves and knowing God more and more intimately until between God and us there is no longer an in-between.
As we read through the four Gospels we notice that knowledge of Christ grows and evolves in those who follow Him. After three years traveling with Him some of them finally begin to get a glimpse of who He is. Their evolution is gradual and personal.
John becomes the Beloved Apostle, Peter the impetuous confessor and Judas Iscariot the Betrayer. We are not given much information about their evolution. Perhaps it is because the only evolution we need concern ourselves with is our own.
The question is, as always, into what are we evolving? Who are we becoming? What kind of evolution is occurring in us? You know, of course, that whoever we choose as our role model becomes the mirror for our lives. Whatever philosophy or ideology we adopt will determine how we think and act and what we become. In the Proverbs we read that bad company corrupts good morals. Bad theology and bad ideology is even worse than that. They poison the whole loaf.
So, we must be careful who and what we choose to believe. We must be careful how we live and walk in this world. One question I often ask myself when meeting people is, “Is there something I can do to help bring compassion, comfort, or joy to this person?” I think Jesus did the same. He brought Good News wherever He went.
I love the question Mary Oliver asks in her poem “The Summer Day,” “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
Should we not seek to bring light to the world? If we look deeply, beneath the surface of everything, we will discover the light in them all. Julian of Norwich wrote that, “God is everything that is good and the goodness that everything possesses is God.”
That is so true!
If we look for darkness, then we will see it. If we look for light, that is what we will see. Jesus puts it this way, “To the pure all things are pure.” The impurity we see in the world is always the impurity that comes from our own darkness. We would not notice if it did not first exist in us. From within and not from without. So then, God does not see impurity because God is the Fountain of All Purity.
“In thy light we shall see light.”
“Why do you see the speck in your brother’s eye when there is a log in your own?” The answer is, because there is a log in your own.
God may not see impurity in us, but I believe He sees our suffering and He rejoices in our beauty. He knows that all of us are broken. Not evil, broken. Everyone. And that is why He came to save, to heal and transform us, to make us whole and more than whole, to welcome us into union with Him, an intimate relationship of mutual love, sharing and understanding. The love of God is not a legal transaction, but a loving embrace. We have but to allow it to happen. For it is the incontrovertible will of God that all should be saved and not one lost.