By Rev. Joanne Davies, SSJD Oblate.
St. John’s Day Reflection **
In the beginning before light and dark, sea and sky. Before embodiment. There was and is forever love, patient, kind, before, now, then and after.
Malcolm Guite names the Gospel of John, as one of inner meanings, the heart of heaven opened to the earth, a gentle friend on Jesus bosom leaning… The poet says …”No need to search the heavens high above, come close with John, and feel the pulse of love.” The pulse of love, seems to me, to be the Glory of God showing life in our lives. Simon Wells describes Glory reflected outwardly as God being with us…and the epitome of glory is Christ’s presence with creation. The glory of God is a human being, fully alive. Utterly in touch with God and utterly in touch with humanity. This is Jesus. We are on a journey with Christ, desiring to know fully the divine life within us… God enjoys our desire and journey. And on our journey we learn to enjoy God and to enjoy the world aright*.
Today we hear that Mary Magdalene came to anoint the body of Jesus. She came in sorrow and heart break. How will she revive the pulse of love within her, without him? She would first honour the body that had held the beat of his heart. A heartbeat like hers. Like ours. But she finds an empty tomb … she must have felt shock – an emptiness within herself.
Inwardly she could have repeated these words From the Song of Songs…….
I sought him whom my souls loves
I sought him but found him not
I called him but he gave no answer.
I can hear Mary crying out … in alarm and despair. And she runs for others to join her.
Then there seems to be a lot of running around. And little time given to inner meanings. It is a humbling sweet human moment of fear reaction and some desperation. Peter and the other disciple – the beloved one – seem to have a race getting back to the tomb. (I think to myself this reveals some of their particular relationship) But John lets Peter go in first even though he won the race. John had followed Jesus to the cross and was not so weighed down with confusion, sorrow and guilt. Perhaps his heart recognized need. But he also knows Jesus saw a leader in Peter and bows to Jesus’ love and faith in Peter.
They peer in and see the linen wrappings and cloth all folded neatly. Even more confusion – why would a thief stop to fold cloths. But John has a moment of awareness. His heart and mind are opened by the yearning that accompanies the sorrow of love. Jesus must rise from the dead they knew this but did not comprehend the words. But here John knows – and believes. He sees the veil between heaven and earth fully drawn back by the glory of God.
Earlier, at the cross, and held close to the beat of John’s own heart is the awareness that he has been given as a son to Mary by Jesus and Mary is given as a mother. Behold, said Jesus. Behold is an opening of sight from the soul. It is glory. We see in John a journey for all of us …the heart of heaven within us. In his giving, Jesus sees in that one moment everything done in the work he was given to do and the anointed life he was given to live. Jesus created a covenant of love with Mary and John bringing them into oneness, a relationship, he called them to. As Mary gave life to Jesus she is now being called to bring John into the full knowledge of the divine life within.
We can all be the beloved disciple. Running, sometimes as humans are wont to do, but then also slowing and pondering and not pushing to the front. Staying and Loving. And we can all be Mary for someone. This is our journey. This is the Gospel of John, for we have been given the pulse of love around our soul… to glorify God in our embodied life, as we enjoy the world aright* with relationships of good health and love. To know God enjoying us. To know and be the forever love in this Gospel.
*from Thomas Traherne (1636 – 1674 )
“You never enjoy the world aright, till the Sea itself floweth in your veins, till you are clothed with the heavens, and crowned with the stars: and perceive yourself to be the sole heir of the whole world, and more than so, because men are in it who are every one sole heirs as well as you. Till you can sing and rejoice and delight in God, as misers do in gold, and Kings in sceptres, you never enjoy the world.
Till your spirit filleth the whole world, and the stars are your jewels; till you are as familiar with the ways of God in all Ages as with your walk and table: till you are intimately acquainted with that shady nothing out of which the world was made: till you love men so as to desire their happiness, with a thirst equal to the zeal of your own: till you delight in God for being good to all: you never enjoy the world.”
**Inspired by past reading of Drawn into the Mystery of Jesus Through the Gospel of John by Jean Vanier.