Gospel of John and the Christian Wisdom Tradition

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Retreat on the Gospel of John

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Not just a criminal, in Pilate's attitude, you get a combination of the contempt towards the Jewish people and a kind of growing respect and reverence, or with regard to Jesus. That expression, let me read you something from the poem, recall it. The true light that enlightens every man is coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world knew him not. For this I was born, and for this I have come into the world to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice. That's the word, that's wisdom talking. And Pilate says, what is the truth? So he dodges the question that is being asked to him by the light which already dwells within him. The light that enlightens every man is coming into the world. The world was created through him. Pilate somehow represents the world in a certain sense, the world in quotation marks. The world that cannot see that light of God. Okay, there's one other point I'd like to mention.


I don't have time to do it thoroughly, but the chapter on the trial and also the crucifixion of Jesus up to a certain point is dominated in John's Gospel by this notion of mockery. So you're the king of the Jews, so you're the king of Israel. Now most of the mockery is aimed against the Jews. Pilate is really trying to grind it into them. They forced him to accede to the crucifixion of Jesus, but he's going to let them know that he'll have Israel to save. So he puts that title over the cross, the king of the Jews. Remember, they object. But this figure of the mocked king, you see the soldiers of Pilate mock him and spit in his face and put this purple cloak upon him. Pilate exposed him to the Jews with the purple cloak. What's the significance of all that in this wisdom context that we've been seeing in John? I think it's wisdom made a fool. Wisdom made a fool. It's the complete kenosis, as it were, of wisdom. First, wisdom is silent. Jesus refuses to answer Pilate, really.


He's already spoken. He can't answer with his own hearing. He speaks once personally to Pilate. Pilate doesn't respond. Pilate's afraid to say, go any further with this truth that's shining before him. But wisdom is silent. Then wisdom is mocked in this way. Pilate is silent. And then wisdom is crucified. That ultimate exposure to ridicule. The cross was dreaded as much for the shame attached to it as it was for the pain, for the torture. Here, I think, to understand this, we have to go to St. Paul. And, once again, it's 1 Corinthians 1 and 2. Excuse me if I try this out a couple of minutes, but I think it's worth it. It's where Paul is talking about wisdom. For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel. And not with eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be empty of its power. Power that's in the cross.


This is the pivot around which everything turns. The cross is almost identical here with Jesus. That is, with the wisdom of God. For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved is the power of God. And so on. For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom. The wisdom of man wasn't equal to wisdom. The powerful and wise didn't know God in Christ. At least God, through the folly of what we preach, to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs, miracles. Jesus has given them plenty of signs. And Greeks seek wisdom. But we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews, and folly to the Gentiles. But to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. When we see Jesus in that purple cloak, with the spittle on his face, and the crown of thorns on his head, and everybody laughing at him. If we were there, we might be laughing too. This is a certain interpretation.


Paul is the theologian of what John is the dramatist of. That is, the foolishness of God and the weakness of God. And then he talks about how not many of them were wise, not many of them were big wheels and so on. When I came to you, brethren, I did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God in lofty words of wisdom, for I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. There's the central point, there's the pivot around which everything turns. If he's got that, he's got everything. Out of that, all the knowledge, all the wisdom, and ultimately all the power comes. Yet among the mature, a little later, he says we do impart wisdom. There is wisdom. He's been talking about this paradox. He's almost, it would seem, rubbed the possibility of wisdom so far into the ground that he couldn't get it back out again. But he says, yes, we do have wisdom. After all, it's not just the cross. Although it's not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glorification.


None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. That's what's happening to Jesus in John 19, you see. The crucifixion of the Lord of glory. And only those to whom the Father has given it can see the Lord of glory under that, through that. It's the kenosis of wisdom. It's wisdom turning into its opposite on the outside. It's the complete emptying out of wisdom. And this emptying out, this pouring out thing, goes very far. Because if wisdom is poured out, wisdom is to be poured in. It's to be poured into those who believe. It's to be poured into us, and we can pick it up. There's a double emptying out here, a double kenosis. The first is the kenosis of wisdom, who empties himself out completely into the ground, as it were. The seeds and the water and the blood and everything go into the ground. That's the first emptying out. The other emptying out is ours, and that is the kenosis of faith. In other words, to let our minds be drawn into that concentrated central point, that mustard seed, which is faith. And there we meet the God who has emptied himself out in Christ.


Okay, we'll go on with this verse tomorrow. Consider the chapters of John's Gospel that we omitted, that we set aside. That's chapters 14 through 17. Of course, we'll have to skip very quickly, which is kind of a brutality, really, because of the depth of these scriptures. It's a choice of trying to say a lot of things, or just a few things, and go more deeply. We'll have to ask the Spirit's guidance on this. And then to consider, well, actually, first to consider chapter 20, the resurrection and appearances of Jesus, and see how the two unite. And remember, I've got this axe to grind, a contention, a thesis, that this is wisdom literature.


Jesus is presenting himself to us, or rather, John is presenting Jesus to us as incarnate wisdom, who then becomes indwelling wisdom. But that Jesus is only me, and only me in such intimate terms, as we make ourselves one of the disciples of the Gospel of God. As we perhaps make ourselves one of the women who encounter Jesus, if that's not too embarrassing for us. Or as we make ourselves a beloved disciple, if that's not too inflating for us, and encounter Jesus. But that Jesus is to be encountered within us, and that Jesus is to be found within us. The Word, the Wisdom of God, is a reality, a world, which is given to us and opened up to us. And which is called the Glory, also the Glory of Jesus, what he prays for, towards the end of the Gospel of John. An initial reading, from Proverbs 1-6. Wisdom has built her house. She has hewn her seven feathers. She has killed a beast and spiced her wine.


This is the banquet of wisdom. And she has spread her table. She has sent out her maidens to proclaim from the highest part of the town. Come in, you simpletons. She says also to the fool, come, dine with me, and taste the wine that I have spiced. Cease to be silly, and you will live. You will grow in understanding. Jesus seems sometimes to send a maiden too, to carry the Gospel first to the other. Think of the Samaritan woman and Mary Magdalene, in chapter 20 of John's Gospel. Since I'm contending that chapter 20 of John's Gospel is best interpreted sacrilegiously, that is according to the wisdom tradition, it depends a lot on the Old Testament precedence, on the Old Testament allusions to these resurrection appearances of Jesus, the way John presents them. There's only time for a few hints, but I think the hints are very suggestive. So let's look at chapter 20 and these resurrection episodes.


As Brown points out, this chapter, which originally it seems was the concluding chapter of John, that is chapter 21, it was a great disappointment to me to learn that I couldn't hang on to chapter 21 as the conclusion of John's Gospel. It is in a way, but it seems like the same editor who put together the bulk of the Gospel didn't put 21 on it. That came along a little later. So we came up with the same kind of integration in there with the rest of the Gospel, which is so important for us. Remember, we're learning so much from the relation of one part of the Gospel to another part, as well as to earlier Scriptures. And here two books of the Bible seem particularly relevant. The Song of Songs, and especially the book of Genesis. The Song of Songs, which recounts this relationship between God and man, so we're told by the spiritual writers, and the form of relationship between the bridegroom and the bride. And Genesis, which tells us of the beginning, tells us of the creation, of the birth of the world.


So we have a marriage and we have a birth. And John, I think, is greatly attracted to both of those images. In chapter 20, Robin tells us, and it's quite evident, that there are four episodes and there are clearly two scenes. The first scene is at the tomb, and we have Mary Magdalene and then the two disciples, Peter and the other disciple, who's not named, but we naturally assume to be John, the beloved disciple. And then Magdalene comes back. The two disciples enter the tomb. Mary Magdalene hangs around, she won't go away. She comes back and finally, because of her persistence, she encounters Jesus. She sees that it is Christ. The other disciple, as John refers to him, has stepped into the tomb. And John tells us that he believed. He saw and he believed. He saw and he believed. He did not aim to see, except his cloth lying somehow in the tomb. So he's given to us as an example, the one who believes first. At the other end, we have Thomas, the holder, the last one to believe, who really has to see Jesus. He really has to be allowed to put his fingers into his wound before he'll believe that he's risen from the dead.


We're given a spectrum. Somewhere in the middle is Mary Magdalene. Somewhere in the middle is the group of the disciples, whom Jesus appears to in the closed room. Now, remember, Jesus was killed on the preparation day. He lay in the tomb, it seems, on the seventh. We're led to believe by the Gospels. Now, this is the eighth day. The eighth day, so a week is concluded. The first week of the creation is concluded, and the second week is able to begin with the eighth day, which for us is the Lord's day. And on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb earlier, where it was still dark. And then she just sees that the stone has been taken away from the tomb, and she runs and tells Simon Peter and the other disciples, and they come, and so on. And then they leave, and go back. But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. And as she wept, she stooped to look into the tomb, and she saw two angels in white,


sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. And they said to her, Woman, why are you weeping? She said to them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him. Saying this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. She did not recognize Him. This happens, remember, in Emmaus, and it happens another time or two in the resurrection appearances. And Jesus said to her, Woman, why are you weeping? Whom do you seek? This language recalls chapter one of the Gospel of John. Remember? What are you seeking? And two disciples. Remember the two disciples? We have two disciples here, too, in the Mary Magdalene edition. First we have two disciples. And what are you seeking? And so on. And then there is a similar movement here. In fact, there is a big parallel between chapter 20, I think, the resurrection account, and the first two chapters of John. It is as if there is a circle. It is closing the circle. Which I think was a familiar form in writing in those days. And we find it elsewhere in John, and in the other Gospels as well.


The two disciples, the emphasis on the place. The place where Jesus dwells. And here, the tomb and so on. And then, later on, the place comes up again and again. And then, in the first chapter of John, we have Nathaniel as the holder. And here at the end, we have Thomas as the holder. And similarly, they are kind of swung over to this exclaiming faith in Jesus. Nathaniel said, You are the, as he said, You are the King of Israel. There is a double exclamation. And Thomas finally says, You are my Lord and my God. We will get into that a little more later. And I think the presence of Magdalene here somehow recalls the Canaan marriage. But, we could stop at the Song of Songs. There is a passage in the Song of Songs which is very strongly reflected here. Jesus says, Don't hold me, I have taken a son to my father. It is better if we go back further to Genesis. Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him,


Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away. Jesus said to her, Mary. She turned and said to him in Hebrew, Rabboni, which means teacher. Jesus said to her, Do not hold me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brethren and say to them, I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God. And Mary Magdalene cuts off immediately. Tells the other disciples that she has seen the Lord. She is supposed him to be the gardener. We are in a garden. Adam is supposed to be the gardener. We are taken back into the garden of Eden here. It all begins over again. We are taken back into the first scene actually in the Bible where man and woman are just not created. And that holds up also in a couple of the other episodes that happen. There is a deliberate bringing close of the resurrection manifestation of Jesus to the beginning, to the creation. And not because John wants to say it is a new creation.


It is a new creation with certain characteristics. And certainly a fascination to it that draws us further into it. Mary. We are surprised to see Jesus using that name for Mary Magdalene. He keeps calling his mother woman a couple of times. He never referred to her by her name. And here he uses that personal name as if he was speaking to her in a way that he couldn't speak to her before. At least that is the kind of, there is a depth in that that John intends. Remember the naming in the first chapters of Genesis. That was Adam's job to name the creatures. And the last one that he named was the woman that was brought to him. Because she was the only one that was like him. So we have this anatomy, this man woman relationship brought up here with a purpose. And which recalls the Cana situation in the second chapter. But she calls him Rabboni, which means teacher.


Jesus is wisdom. And this relationship that is implied here is between the human person, named, seen, whose eyes are looked into for the first time, recognized, known for the first time when we see his name, and the wisdom by whom he or she is named. And then he says, I am ascending to my father and your father and my God and your God. It's amazing that first of all that Jesus appears to her the first time. Why should he appear to her? Why should he appear first of all to a woman, secondly to a rather disadvantaged woman? He cast seven devils out of her so she seems to have been kind of badly used. Not in the best repair. But no, he appears to her. And she is the first apostle. And this is the last of these encounters with women in the Gospel of John. And somehow all of the others, if you examine the others, you can find that they all kind of lead up to this one. Here we have the relationship between the man and the woman and somehow we have a birth also. Jesus has just been born from the dead.


And the open tomb is just like the womb that he's been born from. Let's go on to the second episode here. Or rather it's the third because we didn't say anything much about Peter or the disciple at the time. On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, with the doors being shut where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, The doors are shut so his body has a new property now. Paul talks about the spiritual body. It's a body, it's tangible, it can be touched as we see later on, and yet it moves right through the wall. It just appears in a closed room. And of course, the way we think of that is practically as Jesus manifesting himself interiorly to us. Peace be with you. When he had said this, he showed them his hands on his side, the wounded hands on his side. And the disciples were glad, they saw the Lord. He shows them his wounds and they're glad. Somehow that had to be done in order to quench their recognition. This is the one whom we knew and the one who was crucified.


And when he had said this, Now wait a minute. Peace be with you, again. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven. If you retain the sins of any, they are retained. There we have it. As it were, Jesus breathing his own Spirit into the disciples and sending them out somehow on the mission that he was sent to do. And on the level of ministry, it's quite straightforward. Quite straightforward. And then we look at that for a moment. He breathed on them and said to them, Receive the Holy Spirit. Once again, we're back in the book of Genesis. I believe chapter 2. And the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens his own, as this mist that came up, then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. And man became a living being. And the Lord God planted a garden of Eden and put man into it.


So somehow, this is taking us back to the first creation of man. The order seems to be a little changed. The order between the Magdalene episode and this one. But this is the second account of the creation actually. It was in the first one that God created man and woman. There are two accounts in the first chapter of Genesis. And here we have not God but Jesus breathing his breath into the disciples and identifying his breath somehow with the Holy Spirit. And somehow with the forgiveness of sins. It's the new creation in which innocence is restored. Innocence is restored in which it starts all over again. Through the breath of God. It's a very deep image if you stay with it. And here's our third episode. Now Thomas, one of the twelve, wasn't there when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, We have seen the Lord. But he said to them, Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails


and place my finger on the mark of the nails and place my hand on his side, I will not believe. And eight days later the disciples are there again. And it's a week later. And Thomas is with them. Maybe this is when they celebrated the Lord's Supper at the Eucharist. We don't know. Their day of gathering. The doors were shut. Identical situation. But Jesus came and stood among them and said, Peace be with you. As before. Then he said to Thomas, Put your finger here and see my hands. And put out your hand and place it in my side. And so he could only see with his hands. He could only see with his fingers. Not with his hands. Not with his eyes. He had insisted on that before. Do not be faithless to believe him. We don't know whether Thomas actually put out his hand and put it into Jesus' side or not. Thomas answered him, My Lord and my God. And that's as much of a confession of faith as you find, I think, anywhere in the Christianism. That's as far as you can go. Somehow, when Jesus manifested himself to Thomas in that way and invited that touch, he opened something up which is reflected in what Thomas says.


Thus practically speaking, the Gospel of John concludes in its original version. Because John ends up like this. Now Jesus did many other signs. Now he hasn't talked about signs for a long while, has he? But Jesus did many other signs. As if this is a sign. As if this is the great sign. The risen Jesus. And the sign which somehow has caught across to Thomas. The sign which has grabbed Thomas. And the presence of the disciples which are not written in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name. And Jesus said about Thomas, Well, listen to those who have not seen him yet believe. He's not condemning Thomas. But he's extending somehow what Thomas has been able to experience to those who don't have that opportunity. I puzzled a lot about that encounter of Thomas with Jesus and finally I found a way of seeing him in relation to others we've been talking about. See if this seems forefetched to you or not. Remember that, first of all,


that Thomas is the whole letter. Just like Nathanael. You always have an apostle, a disciple, hanging back and being the last to believe. In order to show us that full spectrum of human nature, to be able to put ourselves into the picture, may be a little easier to persuade than Thomas, Nathanael, who knows. The Fathers, by the way, like to see the Garden of Paradise in the body of Jesus with the spring and the four rivers flowing from the open heart, the open side, and the four wounds of Jesus. Let me read you something from Genesis chapter 3. This is after man and woman have sinned. They're about to be thrown out of the garden. Behold, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil, yet heathen from the fruit, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. And now, lest he put forth his hand and take of the tree of life and eat and live forever, the Lord God sent him. And then it goes on. Let us cast him out and grow up.


The Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden and mounted the angel of the flaming sword. Does that bring anything to mind? Remember in chapter 6 in the Bread of Life discourse, we found the same allusion, delicately, to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and the putting forth of the hand and the taking of that fruit. And we connected it actually to Jesus and to his offering himself as the bread of life, the fruit of the tree of which tree? Both trees. The fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil which somehow has been healed has become itself the tree of life. Now Thomas was one who, especially as he'd been bitten by the knowledge of good and evil, he was the one who, he called it a twin, and he's the one who just couldn't somehow integrate the death of Jesus into his picture. He was ready to die with Jesus if he had said so earlier on. But he couldn't believe that Jesus could kind of swallow a death like that


and rise from the dead. Thomas is in a way the twin of Nathanael. He's in a way the twin of Adam. He's in another way the twin of Jesus perhaps. And when Jesus makes that invitation and shows to him the open side, somehow he's opening up to him once again access to paradise and to the tree of life. Paradise, which in this world means eternal life. Eternal life and faith. And so Thomas as it were reaches in and once again is able to touch and taste the fruit of the tree of life. And he says, my Lord and my God. That's what John can say. And so believing, he may believe in Christ the Son of God, and believing have eternal life, you see. So we're taken back to Genesis and the first creation once again. We're taken back into paradise as if the risen body of Jesus is that paradise. As if Jesus himself seen in faith is the tree of life. The tree of life but also the tree of knowledge


because this is wisdom. And notice how very often in the wisdom literature Genesis comes up. Wisdom so often concerns the creation, the new creation. And you find that by the way spilling over very much into Isaiah into 2nd and 3rd Isaiah. We have a lot of those readings from Isaiah that you'll hear during Advent concern a new creation. Which we still await by the way. But which is a seed within us. In this faith that we have in Jesus, the presence of his Spirit within us. Remember Nathanael's exclamation and that connection that we made with Jacob. This is the house of God. This is the gate of heaven. And we have Thomas saying something like that here. This is paradise. This is the place of the tree of life. This is the ladder that reaches from earth to heaven. We're back in the first chapters of Genesis again. There's another connection here which I won't go into


because it's too darn complicated. That's the one with the serpent lifted up in the desert. But remember the importance that Jesus attaches to his being lifted up. There's a rather complicated connection there between that serpent and the great sign which is Jesus lifted up. Jesus was lifted up as a tree, as the tree of life. And this is the final great sign I think in the Gospel of John. The serpent, remember, which is also a wisdom image. As if human wisdom somehow on the cross is transmitted, transformed in Jesus. But that gets a little complicated and sometimes a little far-fetched. Okay, I'm sorry for making this so complicated but it's simply that there's so much material to be covered. Let's go very quickly now through John 14, 15, and 16 from this kind of sapiential viewpoint. In John 14 we're given the image of a house, of a dwelling. Now we're going backwards but we're also going forwards because Jesus is really talking at the Last Supper about the way he's going to be for us


once he has departed from the earth. The way he's going to be present once he's gone. That's what it's about. I think that's what the whole Gospel is about. He starts out by saying, Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God. Believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms. And the whole chapter continues on this theme of house, of dwelling, of God's dwelling in us, Jesus dwelling in us, of our dwelling in him, in the Father's house. If you love me, you will keep my commandments. That's wisdom language once again. Who can make a claim like that? If any man loved me, he'd love me. Who can ask that? Most people can say, well if you think what I say is true, then do accordingly. If you love me, he continues in that way. Wisdom says it's either in Serach or in Pharis. If anyone loved me, I would love him. It sounds very simple but the connection is there. And if you love her, you should have life. And I will pray the Father and he will give you another counselor. That's the paraclete. We'll have to talk about that.


The paraclete is connected with this presence and with this indwelling. To be with you forever, the spirit of truth. Whom the world cannot receive because it neither sees him nor knows him, you know him for he dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you desolate. The working orphans. I will come to you. Yet a little while and this world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you will live also. In that day you will know that I am in my Father and you in me and I in you. He who has my commandments, word, and keeps them. He it is who loves me and he who loves me will be loved by my Father and I will love him and manifest myself to him. Takes us back to chapter 2 from onward. Jesus manifests himself for the first time at Canaan to his disciples. And this coming of his to dwell with us is not totally distinct from that Canaan situation where you have the bride coming to live with the bridegroom. And then he repeats himself after he's asked about that.


There are a lot of wisdom references in the Old Testament to this business of dwelling. Wisdom seeking and dwelling on earth. Dwelling all over. And dwelling particularly in Zion. Dwelling with God's chosen people. And then the prayer of Solomon where he asks should God send wisdom to dwell with him as if it were to be as his bride. And then we're taken also as I said back to John 1 and 2. The word became fresh and dwelt among us. Dwelt in us this word. And the temple, the body of Jesus. The temple is the place where people are. They don't live there all the time. The place where they are, where they go, in which they stand to seek God. The intimacy of this invitation is very unusual. I think we have, we read the New Testament so much and so on and we tend to miss the depth. These few words, the promise that's in those few words.


And what we can hope to discover if we get beneath the surface and encounter that Jesus was within us. The second image is the vine. Now the vine is also an image of union, of relationship. In a way it's deeper and in a way it's not so. It seems more distant. It's deeper in this sense. It's one vine. The vine and the branches are one thing. Whereas dwelling in the house, that's a little different. It's like a one-to-one relationship. At the same time, some of the air of intimacy has disappeared and given place to something else which is talking about the community. When Jesus talks about the vine, He's talking about the brotherhood. He's talking about the communion and the love that has to dwell among us. More than about that common life which is presupposed. But the branches and the vine, how they are wedded, how they are one. And the one life, the one sap that flows, flows through both. There's a commandment that He gives there. Love one another as I have loved you. I don't call you servants anymore, I call you friends. Of course friend is a mild word for what He's talking about.


It's funny how much power there is in that mild word. They're very socially, one's interior. And that's what Jesus is talking about. Not just vertically. Not just with God and with Him, but with one another. That's the lesson of Christianity. The third image, and excuse me if I go over a little bit tonight, I'll try not to make it too long. The third image that we have is a very interesting one. The image is a woman who's about to give birth. First let me say something about the Paraclete. Jesus is talking about the Paraclete continually in chapter 14 and 16. It's very important. In a sense it's all He's talking about. Because everything that He's saying about this relationship that He's to have with us is included somehow in the term Paraclete. It's a term that's variously translated as counselor, as lawyer, advocate, intercessor, all those things. It's a term that it seems in the New Testament you find only in John. So we have to look at Him for meaning. Now let me just read you


Brown's interpretation of the Paraclete which to me is pretty convincing. It's the Holy Spirit. But it's the Holy Spirit not just simply. It's not the Holy Spirit exactly of St. Paul. It's got a special quality in John. And this is it. The Paraclete is the Holy Spirit in a special role, namely as the personal presence of Jesus in the Christian while Jesus is with the Father. Do you see the two sides of the glory of Jesus? The one side is His being in the presence of the Father and in the glory of the Father. The other side is the Spirit dwelling within us which is the glory of God within us. Or at least inseparable from which is the glory of God hidden within us. When Jesus prays for His glory in chapter 17 that's what He's praying for, for us. When He talks about that oneness. When He talks about His dwelling within us, that's what He's talking about. The glory of Jesus as far as we're concerned, is Jesus Himself. Divine wisdom Himself dwelling within us. Talking to us. Shining


within us. The resemblance of the Paraclete to Jesus, when John talks about the Paraclete, about the Holy Spirit, almost all of the traits that he brings out about Him are also the traits of Jesus. He's going to lead you into all truth and song. Those are the things that Jesus has done. In fact, he refers to Him as another Paraclete, which means that Jesus Himself has been a Paraclete. So there's our main basis for the meaning of the Paraclete in John. The Holy Spirit has what? The Holy Spirit has indwelling wisdom. The Paraclete is the presence of Jesus when Jesus is absent. Jesus promises to dwell within His disciples and are fulfilled in the Paraclete. When He talks about the Paraclete, right afterwards He'll say something like this, well, I'm going away but I'll come back to you soon. So His coming back is the presence of the Paraclete within us. Therefore, as Jesus with His wisdom incarnate I'm not quoting this from the Bible, this is just my words. So the Paraclete


is Jesus indwelling presence that is wisdom indwelling presence. That's the sense that I think it has in John's Gospel. And Jesus has to be gone. He has to be invisible for us to have this. This is only beyond images which leads us to our final image here in John 16. Jesus says He's going away and His disciples are sad. And He said, where is your sorrow for now? But I'll see you again in a little while and your sorrow will be taken away. Let me read this. This is always fascinating to me. It's quite a metaphor. It's the third, remember. First the house, the dwelling. Secondly, the mind. Third, the woman who's about to give birth. And I think there's a kind of crescendo here and I think that this one expresses finally in a way beyond the power of language to express what Jesus is talking about. This gift that He promises. Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. When a woman is in travail, she has sorrow because her hour of power


has come. But when she's delivered of the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, the joy that a child is born into the world. So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice. And no one will take your joy from you. Okay, fine. There's a nice metaphor for the sorrow and then the joy that's to follow. It's just a metaphor. Is there any more to it than that? Well, I really think there is. Listen to what Jesus says as He goes on. In that day, you will ask nothing of Me. Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask anything of the Father, He will give it to you in My name. Hitherto you have asked nothing in My name. Asking you will receive that your joy may be full. I have said this to you in figures. The figures are the signs, maybe, that He's done. The things that He's done. The figures are the words that He's used. All of the words that He's spoken to Him during the Supper. Those are still external things. Those are still concepts. Things. And finally, these three


images that He's given us. The last one being the woman. The woman. The hour is coming when I shall no longer speak to you in figures, but tell you plainly of the Father. Now, what can He possibly mean by that? He doesn't just say, I'm going to, you know, you're going to know the Father, but I'm going to tell you plainly of the Father. I'm going to speak to you. It's the word saying that He has spoken to us so far, only in external things, which are little images, or little crumbs, as it were, which are outside of us. Now, He's going to be inside of us. He's going to be one with us. And, as consciousness in our consciousness, as it were, co-consciousness, He's going to speak to us of the Father as God's own language. That is, God Himself being what we hear. The word of God being our knowledge of God. God's own wisdom somehow being what we know of God. I think that's what He means. And John is deliberately


paradoxical, and deliberately gives us an image, and then invites us to go beyond the image. It reminds us very much of Zen. It reminds us very much of Eckhart. In fact, I could read you part of a sermon of Eckhart, which is very much like this, except in kind of scholastic terms. He told you about going beyond all the images, and going into the center, into the place where Christ is born in you. Into the place within you, in your soul, where there are no images, where it's emptiness, where the pure Spirit, your pure Spirit lives, and where the only place where God can generate is the Son. So you move from all of the images into the word itself. Into the word of God itself. Where the birth is taking place. Where the Son is being born, where God is being born, where you are being born. That birth of God. It's a tremendously powerful image. In a way, you could think of that birth of God as being the only thing that ever happens in history. God is being born in the world, and as he is being born, the world is born with him. We could go to Romans 8,


and read you St. Paul's version of that same thing. We're in labor because the Holy Spirit is within us, and we cry out for the tension between the power of that Spirit, and our desire for its fulfillment, for our resurrection really, and the concentration of the heaviness of our physical bodies of time, of ordinary life. Not only we, but the whole world, he says, the whole creation is in labor pains until now, with that same Holy Spirit. The same thing is happening in the whole world. Not just in those who believe, not just in the good ones, but in the bad ones as well. The Holy Spirit maybe in a way doesn't know the difference, but in wisdom does. The Holy Spirit is trying to have God be born in the world, the world born in God. It's a merit, and it's a worth at the same time, because who is the child that's born? Is it Christ? Is it ourselves? Is it the disciples here in John 16, or is it Christ? After all, it's He that's going to rise, isn't it? The child from now is both,


just as the mother is both. There's one thing that's happening. One mystery that's taking place, which is God generating His Son, and that mystery just permeates everything that exists, both in God and both outside, until we can't anymore say, outside God. Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. The Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Heavenly Father, Your Son, Jesus, before He left us, pray that He might dwell in us as Your glory. We ask that our hearts may be open, that we may know Him as that light within us. We ask this in Jesus' name. So this evening,


there's some things that I wanted to do that we didn't have time for in the other talks. I even marked down how many minutes there's been in this, but I bet it won't happen. One thing is that last evening, we didn't have time to talk about John 17, the prayer of Jesus, which is often called the priestly prayer of Jesus. It's pretty important, after all, it's the culmination of the Last Supper, the discourse when Jesus turns away from the disciples and towards the Father. But we have those words. John has given us those words, whether or not they were broken at that time. First, let me read you something from the first letter of John, which is very closely related to this. This is in chapter 2 of the first letter of John. Now, John is concerned about


a certain, according to Brown, about a certain group within his community. We can't go into that very far. He begins to talk about something which has a theological value that's independent, I think, of that controversy. But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all know. The anointing is connected with knowledge. Of course, the word Christ, the word Messiah, and the word anointing are very much related. He's just been talking about the Antichrist. He says the Antichrist has come, and there are many Antichrists already in the world. And then he talks about this anointing, which is the same root. Maybe a deliberate connection. Who is the liar? The he who denies that Jesus is the Christ. The anointed in the style.


This is the Antichrist. He who denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father. He who confesses the Son has the Father also. But once you heard from the beginning for Bidinger, up to this point, we might have thought the anointing was simply the Holy Spirit. Because no, it's not the Holy Spirit. It's the anointing of Jesus. It's the anointing of the disciple. But it's more than the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit, and yet it's more than the Spirit. So we have a tendency to abstract. And when we consider the three persons of the Trinity, we try to see what they are separately from one another. But we have to consider how after all they come to us. And when the Holy Spirit comes, he comes bringing Jesus. We're bringing the presence of Jesus, so he comes as wisdom. He comes as this anointing. The anointing, which is the knowledge of God and Jesus Christ. He doesn't come as an abstract person. And this is particularly accentuated in John all the time. Here, let's see.


But what you heard from the beginning abides in you. So the word that you heard abides in you as an anointing. Because he talks about the anointing abiding in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you are anointed with the word, which is also wisdom, which is also spirit, which is also in you, which dwells in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, notice that from the beginning, from the beginning, from the beginning, as in the beginning of the apostle and as in the beginning also of the Lord. With its multiple meanings. Then you will abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is what he has promised us, eternal life. Remember in John 17, eternal life is to know the true God and Jesus Christ. I write this to you about those who are to see you, that the anointing which you have received from him abides in you. And you have no need that anyone should teach you. Of course John's teaching it to them. He's teaching them. He's reminding them of what they have. He's reminding them of the teacher that's inside. As his anointing teaches you about


everything and is true and is no lie, just as it has taught you, abide in him. Abide in him. Not just abide in him. And now those children abide in him so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him and shame at his coming. If you know that he is righteous you may be sure that everyone who does right is born of him. And then that leads into that whole theme of the birth in Christ, the birth in God, and what is born in us. We don't have time to go into that. One other little thing before we get into John 17 and that's the part of the prologue that's very much related to that prayer. And the word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth. We have beheld his glory. Glory as of the only Son from the Father.


Now the prayer of Jesus is completely a prayer for glory in John 17. And we have to try to find out what the glory means. This is the glory just of Jesus. He's speaking of here. But later on something is passed on to us. Here also in the prologue. And from his fullness have we all received. There's this little piece that's put in there by John the Baptist who bore witness. It's an interruption. But if you follow the original logic of the prologue we have beheld his glory. Glory as of the only Son from the Father. And from his fullness have we all received. Grace is from grace. It's as if we've received of the fullness of that glory. For the law was given through Moses, and the law is outside you. Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. Okay. Let's take a look at that prayer of Jesus. It


recalls a couple of other prayers in the Old Testament. Brown connects it with Deuteronomy but I was unable to find anything towards the end of Deuteronomy that really resembles it. There's the Song of Moses. It's an entirely different thing. But you may remember that there are a couple of prayers of Solomon. One is a prayer for wisdom that he makes. I think it's in the Book of Wisdom, chapter 7. And the other is a prayer for the presence of God to be with the temple, to hear the prayers of those who have known the glory of God and come down and fill the temple. Even before he made his prayer, when the temple was consecrated, the glory came down. The glory is the visible presence of God. Now, as we go through this prayer, I think it's important to realize that that glory is the presence of God. It's the indwelling presence of God. And normally it's not so much connected to knowledge in the Old Testament. That's nothing new. It comes because it's the glory of Jesus. The glory was a visible manifestation of God in the Old Testament, in a particular place. Brown


tells us sort of the border of succession of those places. Mount Sinai, way back in the beginning of Exodus. Well, not the beginning of Exodus. Then the tabernacle in the midst of Israel. Then, I believe, in the temple. He didn't include that, but the glory was certainly dwelling in the temple. Then the body of Jesus during his lifetime on earth. And then finally the believers in Jesus. So that's what he's praying for. It's the presence of that glory. But now that glory is his presence, strangely. And that glory has a special property of wisdom. As we go through the prayer, we're going to find repetition after repetition of that knowledge language. I made my own, kind of this rainbow version of John 17. And it's that the language of the knowledge of God that predominates. Knowledge, belief, manifestation, and so on. Time and time again. Because that's Jesus' work. And when he talks, that's what he talks. But it leads beyond


the knowledge to the oneness. And to whatever that glory is. I'll never be able to cover it with my mouth. When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven and said, Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. Now, it's very difficult to analyze that language, because our thinking is linear. And this is because it's very circular. Or spherical, or whatever you want to call it. But it's almost unanalyzable. Since you have given him power over all flesh. Now, he's speaking as if the hour were already completed. And he were already glorified. To give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. So, the glory somehow corresponds to the power, the power which is to give life. The giving of this life is through the knowledge of God. And that's Jesus' work. But the power to give the knowledge of God, and that's to give him eternal life, is greatly expanded once he's glorified. I glorified you


on earth, that I may accomplish the work. And that was to tell people about the Father. To give, proclaim the Father's name. And Brown speculates that perhaps that name is I Am. I've manifested your name to the man whom you gave me out of the world. Just before this, he says, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory which I had with you before the world was made. Wisdom was with the Lord, with God, before the world was made. Wisdom was the effulgence of his glory. As it says... I think that's in Wisdom. And then he goes on about the manifestation of the name and so on. He says he's not praying for the world, and then later on he praises the world that he lived. So there's a fluctuation in the meaning of the world there, it seems. Holy Father, keep them in your name. By the way, there are three parts to this prayer. The first part, Jesus is just praying for his glorification.


But it turns out that his glorification is not just his. It's automatically beyond that. It's automatically, as it were, includes and involves the disciples as they believe in him. He's glorified in them. Oh, mine are thine, and thine are mine, and I am glorified in them. And now I'm no more in the world. This is the second part of the prayer, for those who believe in him now. But they are in the world, and I'm coming to you. Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one as we are one. The word in the Aramaic words, there's a lot of theological density to it. It's related to a word in Syriac, which is very important. There's a whole mysticism of baptism gathered around that notion of the one, the only one, the only begotten son. Oh, the mystique of that is a very beautiful thing. Gabriel Winckler just dug that out a few years ago. I was not in that vein for a bit.


It's always a question of keeping them in the word, keeping them in the name. Sanctify them in the truth. Your word is truth. And for their sake I consecrate myself that they also may be consecrated in truth. I think consecrate and sanctify are the same thing. Which means to be consecrated in them. In him. Now he comes to the final part, where he talks about those others who are not yet there, but are to believe the Spirit of silence. I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, even as you Father are in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. That mutual interrelation which we had in 14, remember? The glory which you have given to me, I have given to them that they may be one, even as we are one. I in them, and now in me, that they may become perfectly one. The glory seems to cause this oneness, but the glory


must be itself the oneness. The presence of God, the enveloping presence of God. So that the world may know that you have sent me, and have loved them, even as you have loved me. In this oneness. Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me, where I am, to behold my glory which you have given me. This is the last mention of glory. The whole prayer is kind of enveloped in this glory. What you have given me and your love for me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, the world has not known you, but I have known you, and these know that you have sent me. I may know to them your name, and I will make it known. Continue that knowledge. Because he's the wisdom of the Father. He's the thought of the Father. That the love with which you have loved me may be in that, and I in that. And that's it. That's the goal of this prayer. That I may be in that. And that's when I was in glorification of Jesus. His presence in us. Which means the opposite


of glorification, because it's in from us. The whole prayer seems to be a prayer that those whom the Father has given him may simply be fully united with him and may be kept in him in the word, in the wisdom of God. Until somehow the glory is fulfilled. Now I'd like to turn to something very different. If I can get all my papers. And that is the old question, well, what has all this got to do with me?


That is the experience, because we can deal with beautiful words for days and for months and for years and then feel more and more all the time that somehow we're not where the words are. That we're not where all of that theology is. So what's the answer to that? That's the thing that's become very fatigued, the sense of that experience gap, if you want to call it that, during the past 20 years since Vatican II. When most of the contemporary theologians spent, I think, most of their energies trying to find a way to solve the gap between tradition and contemporary experience. Contemporary experience of what they call modernity, secularity, or simply pluralism. A complicated pluralistic world in which the faith no longer dominates, in which you're no longer under, as it were, the Christian light. But you have to deal with all those other views, all those other kinds of minds. Totally different attitudes.


And in Vatican II we find the turning around, as it were, of the Church itself to face that situation in a completely new way. Completely new. Quasi-completely new. That is, to reflect that pluralism, to dialogue with all those different views. So where do we fit into all of this? You've got all kinds of different positions. I mean, some people will say, well, don't worry about your experience too much. Just believe. The fundamentalist position would be nothing but the Word of God. Nothing but the Word of God, interpreted literally. And don't worry about how the world is going, what people are thinking, or what is the thought and the wisdom of the world, or what is even your own experience. Just believe. And indeed, there's some wisdom in that, because we find that as we believe, our experience changes. Our experience develops out of the Word. Our experience of Jesus emerges from the Word. And yet, we find a problem there too.


Somehow it's, I don't know, it's not enough for all of our life. If we simply do that, we find ourselves after a while trapped into a ghetto. And with a kind of very negative and defensive attitude. There's been plenty of this in Christianity. The other extreme attitude, of course, is to say, well, don't worry about the tradition, and don't worry about the traditional way of reading Scripture, of understanding the Word. It's a completely new ballgame, and we have to start from scratch. And the people who talked about the death of God in the 60s were talking that way. The radical theologians. That's not ideal. I mean, it's obvious. Because what you've done is simply stepped outside of Christianity. Stepped outside of Christian truth, and you no longer have that support, no longer have that center, no longer have that life practically flowing into you. At least through the mind. Then there's the path down the middle. Which is to somehow try to keep the two sides in dialogue. And I think that's the


true way. But for monks, there's a special quality about that. Because somehow, we're given to be closer to the Word. The time that we have, the form of life that we have, means that our vocation itself is to hang on to the Word, to let the Word develop in ourselves. So we should have a better contact with the Word and with the tradition of understanding of the Word. We should have a kind of a sense, kind of a feel for the Word of God. And then, of course, be able to relate to the other side. But that's less demanding for us than perhaps it is for others. Except insofar as monks can be called on for certain kinds of dialogue, it's supposed to be specially qualified, like with the other religions. And that's a very difficult thing. And yet, even for that, we should have kind of a special aptitude. One way, one way to solve this dilemma


is a historical interpretation of scripture. And by this, I mean that we can begin to understand our situation itself in the light of the scriptures. Perhaps this hasn't been done often enough. For instance, if you begin to look at our situation today in terms of St. Paul's view of the relation between Jews and Gentiles, a lot of light comes into the situation. We were doing a little of that the other day. Rahner's notion of the world church, and how today we're in a situation moving from, as it were, Church 2 to Church 3, just as Paul was moving from Church 1 to Church 2. He moved from a Jewish church to a Jew and Gentile church, which is a European church. We move from a European church to a universal church. Now that breaks, I think, the problem. It breaks the ice. And that's the inspiration of philosophy. That's the creativity of philosophy. We can do that sort of thing. Another thing akin to that


is our identification with Israel, that is, with the Old Testament experience. And what you see most often in that direction is the notion of our time having something to do with the exile of the Jews. The time when the temple was destroyed and the people were carried away into exile in Japan in 587 B.C. If you think about that, it's convincing for a lot of reasons. Not that the center of the church has been destroyed, but that Rome has been abolished. But psychologically, you know, interiorly, something analogous to that has happened in our time. As the securities that we used to have in the structures of the church are no longer there. And we have to kind of grab onto the anchor of our faith in a different way. We nearly have to look in a different direction for more support. And it's a refining of faith. It's a purification of faith. Let me read something from a French writer. His name is Henri Leclerc.


He's written a beautiful book about St. Francis. He's a young man, as a matter of fact. He doesn't show up in this book. And the other one, his analysis of the canonical of St. Francis is on that line. He's wondering about our present situation of disorientation. Of course, the more you're out in the world, the more you feel that kind of wind. What we're called to live today has, in fact, already been lived in a prophetic way by the people of God at a given moment of its history. Precisely during the Long Exile, which followed the national disaster of 587 B.C. This exile, which lasted some 50 years, was a true night crossing for the people of God. It meant the end of an age. The people then experienced the nightfall of their institutions. Everything that formed their framework and protection fell into the shadows. When we read about that in a history book or in the scriptures, it doesn't have the impact on us that it should have. The total dismay of that people, the total shattering of everything


that they've come to believe in, because they weren't just considering faith in the way that we've come to consider it. If we were put in the same situation, the equivalent situation, we might fall apart. Everything that should give it confidence in its own destiny was destroyed. It seemed that God was no longer with the people in the way that he had been with them before, and assured them that he would be. Jerusalem and its temple were leveled. The kingdom was suppressed. The land occupied and annexed. The elite deported, stripped of all the specialist lands that made it a chosen people, and dispersed among the pagan nations. Israel was brought back to its primal nakedness. It was driven to face the basic poverty of the person. Days of darkness and of tumult. This is how the prophet Ezekiel characterized its time of deportation. Israel no longer knew beforehand who the Eternal One was or what he wanted. It had to grope through the night. This experience was lived


in such a depth that it transcends the particular historical circumstances within which it unfolded. By touching the deepest part of a person it attains universality. Certain situations were learned and certain words were said which make this moment of biblical history a prophecy of the deep becoming of the person for each individual as well as for the entire people of God. If you read John of the Cross, I think you'll understand what he means. That it's precisely this same experience of the shattering of our structures of support, of our psychological, what do you call it, capsules, has to take place if we're really to grow in faith, if we're really to break through into the interior lights of God's face. This dark night is basically the same experience. That's what he's saying here, I think. Also today we're going to talk about positive disintegration. Because of this, this experience now concerns us directly. Within it is enclosed the only light which can lighten our current journey through the night by making us see


what we ourselves are called to become. Read a little more of it from the end. There has never been an abstinence of night for believers. Until now, however, it seemed to have been the reserve of an elite, the saints and the mystics. The great masses let themselves be carried by the institutions. The Church, strong by reason of her hierarchical armature and dominant sociological position, stood high over people with sovereign authority and so on. She possessed the teaching authority and so on.