Unknown year, February talk, Serial 00617

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We enter into this psychological and spiritual history of Jesus giving his life to the world and it is not for us, he is not communicating himself to us. So the Eucharist is really a particular side of something which is universal. Every being is sharing with life from God and sharing his life with one another and the Eucharist is sharing the life of God as revealed in the love of Jesus as surrender on the cross as giving himself to the world. So we are all living in this great mystery and we tend to, and our whole education, and that is the tragedy, our education today teaches us to ignore all the psychological and spiritual aspects. We think of things as merely material. The whole scientific education is precisely to cut away everything psychological and spiritual and treat things as if they are merely chemical, merely physical, merely material.


Useful in its way and it does those interesting things of course but it simply eliminates the real meaning of life. You see the whole universe comes without meaning and without purpose as long as we keep on the scientific level. It is merely a level of chemical reactions. So we have to dis-educate ourselves, free ourselves from the educational head which creates this illusion of an eternal world and realize that we are living in this physical, psychological, spiritual universe and nothing is outside. Everything is in God, not outside. And all material things are in the mind, in consciousness, not outside. The body is not outside, the body is inside me. And I am not outside God, but I am inside God. God is inside me. So this is the reality which we have to live. And the Eucharist is a great sign of this. In the bread and the wine, which does not carry the bread and wine, outside is like that.


It contains the mystery of Christ, the mystery of God, the mystery of God simply living in love to the world. So this mystery is in God. This Gospel coming just after the feeling of blindness of the disciples who do not understand, do not see, shows that Saint Mark intended this as a symbol of Jesus feeling the blindness of heart. And the miracle itself is rather exceptional in that Jesus uses a method which was common in the world at his time, using spittle to put it on the eyes, which is currently a very common custom. Why in this case Jesus used this method is not clear. And also why it only half cures him. He sees people like trees walking and then finally he sees clearly. Maybe it was intended to show the gradualness of this healing.


The disciples were gradually to be healed of their blindness and very soon people would confess Jesus as the Messiah, as Christ. So it is important to see these miracles of Jesus as signs, because we do not always treat them as signs. And they are not simply healing physical diseases. They are signs of a deeper healing, this healing of human blindness. And I think we all have to recognize this. Human blindness, we are all born blind. Because we don't see God, we see an external world outside us. And we imagine God as somebody outside, separated away from us. And that is our human state, that is the state of the fall. And there is a state in modern Hinduism we call Maya. Maya is this illusion that the visible world outside you is the reality. We are all born into that. We imagine this world outside us as being a real world.


And God is being somewhere up there, somewhere outside it. And for many people, of course, just God is the illusion. The world is reality and God is the illusion. And we have to change it about, seeing God as reality and the world as the illusion. And we have to recognize that we project this world around us. From a scientific point of view, it has become perfectly clear today. We project the world we see around us. I think the most typical example of it is the rising and the setting of the sun. Every day we see the sun rise in the east and set in the west. But we know that is an illusion. The sun is not rising, it is not setting. The earth is moving around the sun. And I think God has placed that in front of us as a sign of this illusion. We are not seeing things as they are. And we know also that all these solid objects around us, this concrete floor, is not solid at all. If we put it under a microscope, we find it is simply a constant state of flux and change of atoms moving about and vibrating.


So, the world we see is an illusory world. And we have to see through that illusion. And when we get beyond the apparent concrete form, the apparent rising and setting of the sun, we encounter the reality. God is the reality behind all this. And when we celebrate the Eucharist, the same thing happens. We see the bread and the wine of the consecration. They are very different. We have the same bit of bread and the same cup of wine. But the reality is no longer the same. And we see through that bread and through that wine to the reality. God himself, present in Christ, offering himself to us. So, we are all being taught all the time how to see through the agonies, through the reality. And in India, you see, that is a great teaching. I think that is Vedanta. It has various forms. That of Shankara is the most well-known, where he is constantly asserting that this world is Maya. You have to see through it. And the reality is Brahman. Brahman is that reality behind the world, behind ourselves, behind the body, the mind, the senses, the feelings.


Everything is the hidden reality of Brahman. And that is your Self, that is your heart, your real being. So, that is a challenge. And today it is particularly strong because the world, the external world, has never been more highly organized than it is today. We are besieged with all these effects of the material world. Most people, television and radio and so on, are bringing it to them all the time. And they get totally immersed in the illusion. You see, television is one of the most powerful methods for rejecting this illusion continually. You think the real world has come into your house and so on. You are seeing everything. And you are really simply perceiving that the Maya is being woven around you and blinding your eyes all the time. So, to see through this illusion and to realize that behind it is the reality of God, the eternal, infinite, wonderful being who is present to us all the time, well, our eyes are blinded. And so we ask for that illumination, that enlightenment.


When we see God's presence, the name of God in everything, and in the Eucharist when we see the bread and the wine, we see the presence of God in Christ communicating Himself to us, giving His life. And perhaps it is also worth mentioning that, you see, the bread and the wine signify the body and blood of Christ, but the body and blood of Christ also are signs. You see, the body and blood signify, the body signifies substance, concrete being, and blood signifies life. So, the body and blood of Christ signify the being of Christ and the life of Christ and the love of Christ. So, it is a double symbolism, and I think we ought to stop at the second one, this is body and blood and this is what we are getting, but the body and blood are only signs of the life, the love, the reality of Christ and of God, the body and blood. So, this is the mystery we celebrate, and it should help us to see God everywhere, in everything.


That is enlightenment, and that is the feeling which Jesus brings to us, or has to bring to us. This gospel is a kind of climax in a certain sense, so it is the Mark's gospel. It just, even as you remember this healing of the blind man, and who was taken as a symbol of the disciples who were so blind, and Jesus has come to heal them, to cure them, and Peter, like the others, was blind, and gets his insight, Jesus, who do men say that I am? He says, we are the Christ. And this was a revelation which came to Peter, he discovered. But his insight is very imperfect, and like the blind man, first of all, he saw men like trees, and only later he received the full sight. So, it seems here also, Peter has an insight into Jesus,


but he hadn't realized what it implies. The faith of Christ was probably to save a king who would rule over Israel, and he was prepared to accept that. And then Jesus goes on to say that the Son of Man must suffer. He came to teach them the same. The Son of Man must suffer many things, be rejected by the elves, and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. And he said this plainly, God says. He makes it absolutely clear. And Peter can't take it at all. I fear that the Messiah is going to die, and be rejected like that. And Jesus turns on him and says, get out of the way, Satan. So, the moment after he has confessed Christ, Jesus calls him Satan. And this is really the mystery of the Church. You see, the Church confesses Christ, preaches Christ to the world, and the Church is always betraying Christ. And precisely because Peter couldn't take the cross, he wanted a good fulfillment in this world, you see.


They expected a Messiah who would reign over Israel, conquer all their enemies, and establish this kingdom here. And Jesus knew that the kingdom is not of this world. It's to go beyond. And Peter wasn't ready to take it. When the time came, he denied Christ three times. He couldn't face it. And finally, he was converted. And, as I say, that is really the mystery of the Church. The Church receives the revelation of God. We receive that revelation. But the Church, which is the people, ourselves, always betrays this vision. And today, many people reject the Church. They can't accept this frightfully imperfect Church that we see, with all its materialism and all its sins. And it's a great obstacle. For many people, the Church is a great obstacle to Christ. Many Hindus will tell you that if you accept Christ, you can't accept Christians. They are the problem. And that is a mystery, you see. Sin and grace are always present in our lives.


Nobody is totally free from sin. Nobody is totally open to grace. And yet, they're always at work. And when a person is sinful, we can't reject them, because the grace of Christ lies with Peter. Peter was a sinner, but Christ accepted him, and finally he was fully converted. And at the same time, when a person is holy, when a person accepts Christ, you mustn't expect there's no sin in them, you see. Peter was full of sin, even to the point of denying it. You see, that mystery is present always in the Church. And I think today it's quite critical for many people, particularly for the present Pope, that he finds him a wonderful person in ways, manifest in Christ, and extremely unsatisfactory in other ways. He's causing tremendous crisis in America and other places by denouncing some of the leading theologians and so on. I mean, he doesn't do it personally, but he does it through the Vatican people. And that's causing a great problem. And I think we have to accept both sides.


It's no good thinking that the Church is pertinent and holy, or that it should be, or the Pope or the bishops or anybody else. They're all sinners, and they all reflect Christ in some way, and they all betray Christ in some way. And we ourselves are the same. We reflect Christ in many ways, and we betray Christ in many ways. Because none of us is pertinent. Christ is God's manifestation on earth. And we never fully manifest God, obviously, in the Church, or anything we do. And therefore we're always betraying in that sense. We're always failing. And yet we're always being called to give up, to surrender, to accept this grace, this love. So we try to live that mystery. And I think it's rather important today, as I say, many Catholics are terribly disillusioned with the Church. Just this last week I've read two or three articles of leading Catholic periodicals. One of the leading priests in India, in England, left the Church last week. The leader of the movement in the Church, of renewal in the Church,


because he's so disillusioned with the way things are happening. And the same thing in America. So people get totally disillusioned, and people outside the Church just give it up altogether, they think Christianity is done for. And yet, behind all this failure, all these weaknesses, the failure for them to implement the Vatican Council, the grace of God is present. Christ is still present. He lives in this very important Church. And that is our faith. Christ is present. The Holy Spirit is present in the Church. In spite of all its weaknesses, its failures, its resistance, and its counter-witness to Christ. At the end of the game, the Church is a counter-witness. It's the opposite. People see that, and they reject the Church. But faith teaches us that behind it all is the Holy Spirit, who is present. And we can experience it. We see in the Church, where openly we can experience this gift of God, this love, Christ is present of the Holy Spirit.


So that's really important. This Gospel, of course, is very challenging, and many feel it's beyond them altogether. And in the other cheek, it often seems to be practical, and most people really don't. They simply ignore it. And yet, I think there's a very, very profound meaning behind it, which we need to discover, and it's not altogether on the surface. But I think it's in the understanding of the ego, the human self, as we have to see it. You see, every human being has this ego, this personality, and it grows up from childhood, and it's conditioned by our family, by heredity. We're made in a particular way, and we can't change it. We have this physical being, and we have a psychological being, which is derived from parents and ancestors, and grows according to our environment.


So we all acquire this personality, and we're all normally enclosed in it, you see. That is the problem. You grow up in a particular family, and you have your own environment, and you belong to that group, and you identify with that group. And then there are other groups, or maybe families, maybe a caste. In India, it's primarily caste. You belong to a caste, and your whole identity is centered on your caste, you see, or your family, or it may be your language, or it may be your nation. We can enlarge it, or we can diminish it, but everybody identifies, you see, with a certain character, and a certain community, and a certain limited horizon. And then for many, it's their religion. You're a Christian, you're a Hindu, you're a Muslim, and you identify with your religion, and your church, and your particular community, again. And that is perfectly normal, you see.


But the point is, we are called to go beyond, and the call of the Gospel is precisely to go beyond those limitations. As long as we remain in them, we'll always be in conflict. Your family, your caste, is in conflict with another, your race, your religion. They're all in conflict, as long as we remain enclosed. And the challenge is for everybody, most of Christ's order, to go beyond these limitations. And we only do that when we awake to the reality of God. God is the transcendent, beyond all these limits. And we all have the capacity to go beyond. But of course, we're so conditioned by the world in which we're living, where people always remain within these limits, that many people can't escape it. And yet, this is the real challenge of the Gospel. You see, Jesus living in the world, they identified with Judaism. They were Jews, the chosen people of God, they had their law, they had their customs, and so on. And they were totally conditioned by that, and they couldn't get out of it. When he challenged it,


they couldn't accept it. And it's the same with us today. Most people cannot accept this challenge, to go beyond these limits. And yet, I think we all realize today, the world is in violent conflict everywhere, and we're threatened with a nuclear war, and so on. But as long as people remain conditioned in this way, and it's equally true if you're conditioned by your Christianity, as well as by any other religion, as long as you remain within any limits, you're going to be in conflict with others. And it's only when, of course, genuine Christianity, of genuine religion, in every corner, is precisely the goal, to go beyond all limits, you see, to open to the infinite, to the eternal, to the supreme reality of God. And when we do that, then we detach from ourselves. You see, the key word is detachment. You can't lose yourself. You've got your own ego, your own personality, and so on. You're going to take that to the grave. But you can be detached from it. You don't need to identify with it. You see, we identify with this limited self,


and that's where the problems arise. And if in meditation, particularly, we try to detach, we're kind of aware of our personality, all our limitations of mind, of body, of character, and language, and everything else, and open ourselves in meditation to, you see, the essence of meditation is to go beyond these limits of the mind, of character, and to open on the eternal, on the infinite. And that is the challenge of the Gospel, if I say. And when we do that, then we don't, we remain limited, and we have many limitations in our behavior, and so on, but there's something in us which goes beyond. And that is what sets us free. And when we see that, then we no longer conflict with the neighbor, the person different from ourselves. When you don't identify with yourself, you don't find your neighbor as somebody hostile, or opposed to yourself. You find yourself in your neighbor.


And the great insight of Hinduism is that one's self is in all. When you go beyond your limited ego, your jiva-atman, and you discover the param-atman, the supreme spirit, you know that one spirit is in every human being. And you only love your neighbor as yourself, when you see yourself as an expression of that supreme spirit, and you see your neighbor as an expression. That's the only way we can get beyond our ego, our limited self. And then all that Jesus says, here I can be fulfilled, we are capable of all these things, he says, see if anyone will strike you on the right cheek, turn to him the other, if anyone will shoo you, take your coat, get met, don't go. You're no longer attached to yourself, your limited ego, you're seeing God in the other. You see the spirit of God in that other person, and you recognize that spirit in him, and then you're totally free. And the saints have always done this, the Hindu saints, and the Buddhists,


and the Muslim, and the Christian saints, they've all learned how to go beyond the ego, and to experience the indwelling presence of the spirit beyond. And that is what leads to peace, and that is, we talk about peace today, but we know peace, you see, until people learn to go beyond these limits, and awaken to the eternal, which is in every human being, it's in every people everywhere, in every religion. So we all have to ask for his grace. And I say it's mainly in meditation we go beyond our ego, we open ourselves to the spirit, which is in us all. So we ask for his grace to know ourselves, or to know yourself, and then to know yourself in God, and God in you, and God in everyone else. It's certainly a kind of climax of consensus in the last Gospel, when we saw how disciples


are very blind in their faith, because of the blind man that Jesus cured. And then Peter has this insight, that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah. And then, to confirm this, of this vision of favor, of the transfiguration, the sign of this inner life of Jesus, this radiance of the divine light within him. This radiance of the divine light is not unique to Jesus in the transfiguration. It's one of the phenomena of mysticism, that I think in the Eastern Church, they speak of this light of favor, and particularly of the meditation, of the contemplation. It often shines in the face. We heard that Moses went up to Mount Sinai, and when he came down, his face was shining. They couldn't even look on it.


And there's a famous story, St. Sarah of Russia, in the last century, who lived in a hermitage of the woods. And a disciple went to see him one day, and it was in the midst of winter and snow, and they stood there in the snow, and they talked together, and Seraphim put his hands on his shoulders, and said, look at my face. And he looked at it, and it was shining like the sun. He couldn't gaze on it. And there was a sign of this inner vision, this contemplation. And what I think is important, is it brings out the contemplative aspects of Jesus' life. You see, the Gospels as a whole, the three Gospels, certainly, only give the impression that Jesus went about doing good. And people today think of Jesus almost exclusively sometimes in that way, the man who went about doing good, the man for others. And of course, this is perfectly true, and is one side of his life and nature. But the other side is his communion with God, with the Father. St. John's Gospel reads that,


Jesus lived in constant communion with the Father, so he does nothing but what he sees the Father doing. And this transfiguration is a sign of the inner life of Jesus, the inner life of the scene. And sometimes it manifests externally. And this lighted table is one of the manifestations of this inner life, of this inner life of contemplation. And we keep the memory of St. Peter Vayner today, and in order for now to be able to read about some of these reforms in the Middle Ages, which particularly concern this lack of contemplation for the Church. The Order of St. Benedict has always been a place of an order of prayer, meditation, and always in time to time has been very contemplative. But to come out of it and emphasize the contemplative aspect, especially the solitary life of Peter Daniel, the most famous saint who lived out this contemplative life. So I think it's a big part of the meaning for us today.


You see, we need to recover this sense. It's closely to Jesus who calls for the prayer of the sacrament. And in here we think of that. It's a great need of the day. And we think of the Church for some, the prayer of the sacrament. Some of it is at it right. But then there's also a downside to this other aspect. Jesus is the Son of God. The name of the divine life is radiating. And what we have to share that divine life with others, not very different food and clothing and so on, but still a share in the divine life. And that's what Jesus came to give. And the contemplative order in the Church really calls the witnesses to this divine life. You see, this divine life gives us in the heart, in the soul. And then we meditate. And then we have visits. But we get some glimpse of that divine life. We begin to share something of that divine life. And so that's a very special call of the monastery and of the ashram, especially in India. In India people look for this contemplative life. And the idea that religion is not so much doing good, but it's radiating the presence of God.


We go to our holy land, have a darshan of the presence. You see, going down to the presence. So I think we should all reflect on this. Leave it to the Church, you see, to witness to the presence of God, Christ being the Church. Not simply do the good, which is one aspect of that. But the divine life, which shines out sometimes in your face, sometimes in the, but mainly in the daily life. You see, it's a whole vision of life, which benefits itself in the experience which people have in meditation. But still we'll ask for some glimpse of this divine life and to share it a little bit with our hearts in our meditation. Thank you.


And Jesus was more concerned with the psychological aspect of it. And these evil spirits are psychic forces, of course, in the unconscious, which act upon us. We are aware today that we are exposed to these forces of the unconscious. So Jesus was overcoming these psychological forces when he performed these miracles. And then we come to this question of faith. The Father asked Jesus, if you can do anything, please help us. And he said, if you can. Jesus says, there's no question of if. If you have faith, you can do anything. And everything in this is a problem, because many people have unreasonable expectations of faith. Happens in the charismatic movement, a great many wonderful cures have taken place, which we rarely call miraculous, but of course there have also been many where they don't take place. And we have to distinguish between faith and produlity.


There's a danger always of produlity. We see miracles taking place and we think anything can happen. But it depends, Jesus says, it comes to that with prayer and fasting. It depends on the disposition of the person. Unless we have a deep faith, which is nourished by prayer and by some kind of discipline in our lives, then these things do not take place. But what we all have to seek is this faith which really discerns the presence of action of God in our lives. Not merely the unusual action that may happen, and many people do have unusual experiences, but also the usual ones. I think it's more important to discern the normal action of God in one's life. We tend to think some things are natural and happen without God, and other things are supernatural, God intervenes. But of course all natural happenings come through God.


God is acting in all the world, in everything. And to discern the action of God in one's life, in the good and the evil of what works on us, through all the evil of the world as well. Crucifixion is the greatest evil in the world, and yet it was where God was most active. And so in all events of our lives, there is the action of God. And faith is discerning this action of God, in every event, good, evil, great and small. And that is, now we have always to ask, increase my faith, because normally we just don't exercise it, we just take things for granted, to all natural causes. And if you have a motor accident or something, well, it's just an accident. But we know nothing is an accident. Everything happens because of certain laws, and because of the divine action working through those laws. And so we have to learn how to see the action of God, and to surrender ourselves to it. The more we are aware of it, the more we open ourselves to it,


the more clear it becomes. First it's very confused, we can't really see anything. As it grows we see more, and if we really open ourselves to it by prayer, and not necessarily fasting in a strict sense, but this kind of discipline of life, this sadhana, then we discern the action more and more clearly, and the action becomes more and more definite. God is acting in everything in a general way, but as we discern his action, he begins to act in a more special way. The miracles of when we are more open to God, when he's able to act through us in ways which are not normal. So there's a whole world of faith which we have to learn, and discern, and to grow. It's a growing process all the time. And many have experienced this. We've seen how at first we took things for granted, and then we gradually began to seize our own purpose, our plan of God in our lives, and it can then often reach to the point


when we have some definite experience. And many, many people today are having an experience of this grace of God intervening which is beyond the normal. And that is very common today, people experiencing this action of God in a transcendent way. So we all have to ask for this growth in this faith, and based on prayer and discipline and sadhana. You see, as I was saying yesterday, regardless of thought, faith produces character. And character is this firmness of mind and heart and will which is produced by prayer and by a discipline of life. So we ask for this growth in faith through prayer and through sadhana, through this commitment to the service of God. This gospel has a very clear place in the whole plan of the gospel.


We saw how Peter confesses Jesus is the Christ, and immediately afterwards Jesus speaks of his coming, death, suffering and death, and Peter can't accept it. And Jesus turns on him and says, Get behind me, Satan. And this was the test of the disciples. They could believe a Messiah who would be victorious and conquer his enemies, but they couldn't imagine a Messiah who would suffer and die. And so again Jesus repeats it to them. He says the Son of Man will suffer and die. And again they cannot comprehend it, you see. But they did not understand the saying and they were afraid to ask him. It was a tremendous shock. You can hardly imagine what a... You see, the whole concept of the Messiah being of the king of David's line who would conquer his enemies, and their expectation certainly was that Jesus would be triumphant.


And this facing death and suffering, that was something beyond them altogether. And it's not simply a question of physical suffering. It's something much deeper. It's this pronunciation of the ego, of the self. And that's what comes out with this discussion. They're going on talking who's going to be the greatest, who's going to be the king of the kingdom. And Jesus takes a child and sets it in the midst of them. And this is always the challenge, you see, that we tend to center on ourselves and everybody, and it's natural in a sense. You can't object to it altogether. You want to get on in life. You want to get an aim for yourself and achieve something and be somebody. And that is perfectly legitimate in its limits. But when you do that, you center on yourself and you're not concerned with others. You want to get the better of others, to get beyond others and so on.


And so you become a source of conflict and violence in the world. And it's how to grow as a human being, to develop one's capacities, at the same time to do it always in relation to others, always relating to others. And when we close on ourselves, that is sin. It's closing on oneself, becoming self-centered, and self-growth which is open to others. And it is the intention of nature, really. Each one has to grow in themselves, to become somebody, to become a personality, a person. At the same time, we become persons by relating to others. Each one grows with the other. Francis of Paul describes it, the organs of a body. All the organs have to grow. Eyes and ears and the hands and the feet and so on have all got to grow, and they're all distinctive with their own function. But they have to grow together. If anything grows without relation, then you get a distortion. You get a handicapped person. And so it's the same spiritually.


We have to grow in relation to others. And this example of a child, you see, is this attitude where the child is totally dependent on others. Of course, it's an extreme. We don't have to become like children altogether. But in this sense, the child is dependent on others, and it's not asserting itself at all. And so we all have to learn how not to assert ourselves, and to become humble in that sense, become like this child. And that is something which I think the Church today is trying to learn. You don't have the problem in the Church yet. People have given power. The bishops and popes, the priests also, they all get power. And then they begin to assert their power, and a lot of show develops around them. And then we get the opposite, a genuine authority. You get this pump of power. And Jesus puts his opposite example,


which I say the Church is learning today, that authority is service. The higher you are in authority, he says, the greatest among you shall be the service. The greater your authority, the more responsibility to serve, to be at the service of others. So I think this is something we're learning today, but it's a difficult lesson for everybody, how to really to be... You see, it isn't simply being like a child, being dependent on everybody. You've got to mature. You've got to become a responsible person, taking responsibility for your life and for your actions. And yet, in doing so, you've got to be totally open to others. That's the problem, you see. How to be a self-responsible person, at the same time, to be totally open to others. Not to be putting other people down and controlling them, but allowing them to grow. So the whole body grows together, is the idea. The body is an organic whole, and it has to grow together. And each one has to support the others. And we grow by relating to others.


We don't grow by concentrating on ourselves. We grow by learning how to relate to others, to become members of a whole. And that is the challenge of the world today, and of the Church today, how to become this organic whole, this body of Christ, in which each member has his own function. And we want to see the Church growing. So that each person... And it applies, of course, to those who are disadvantaged in the Church today. There's this great problem of the women in the Church. The women have not got their proper place in the Church. And they have to discover, and the Church has to discover, are they fully identified with this body of Christ? They have their full responsibility, their place in the body of Christ. We've not achieved it yet. It is something which is moving all the time, and we're seeking how we can achieve it. And so the Church herself is growing in that way, discovering how to become this body of Christ, how to be each member of the Church, able to grow to their full stature,


while the whole body grows together, as St. Paul expresses it, the full measure of the stature of Christ, the whole body has to grow together for them. So this is the problem facing the Church in the world, and we're all responsible for it, each in our own way, how to grow as a person. And the interesting thing is, you see, that a person is relationship. A person is not a closed entity. A person is an open being. We grow by relating to others. A child obviously begins by relating to others. It's how he grows at all, and it goes all through one's life. We grow by relating to others. And the most interesting thing is, God himself is relationship. That's the most profound Christian doctrine, that the Godhead itself is relationship. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are personal relationships in the Godhead, and we human beings grow as persons, as we relate to others, as we open ourselves to others and allow this growth to take place.


So we can all ask for this insight, first of all, what it means to be a person, to be relating to others, and then how to grow in a community, whether it's a small group, a family, or an ashram community, or a wider church community, or a political community. It all depends on this interpersonal relationship. The ultimate ground of all personal relationships is love. Love is precisely this, the person opening to another, giving himself to another, receiving from the other. And love is this fundamental law of life. So this is what Jesus is really explaining for us. The Gospel of Timothy plays down a very clear ruling about divorce, but it has to be seen, first of all, in the context of the whole discussion of this problem of time which is common among the Jews, among the rabbis, and also it has to be seen much more in the context


of all Jesus' teaching, that he doesn't normally lay down laws. You were reading yesterday of a dramatic statement of God. I offend you, cut it out and cast it from you. I am to offend you, cut it off. Obviously not to be taken literally. And Jesus always brought things back to first principles. He wasn't certain to lay down particular laws, but to bring things back to their primary truth, knowledge, that he sees marriage as essentially his marriage to the male and the female, where they become one. And that is a universal principle, but universal principles are not the same as general laws. And that is one of the great problems, you see. These universal principles are eternal, but laws are general, they apply in general, and then they have to be applied in particular. That's where all the problems arise. As a law you shall not kill,


or rather that's a principle, it's killing. But then you make a law, and then you have to have many exceptions on many occasions, and it is permissible to kill. It is generally allowed killing in war on a large scale. And so these general laws have to be applied in particular circumstances. And it applies to all laws. It's a great mistake when we try to absolutize a law. So there are certain laws which are always true in all situations, but it's not so. As I say, there are universal principles which are always true. Laws are general and have to be applied in particular cases, and there may be a different mode of application in a different situation. Actually, we know Sir Matthew recalls an exception to this. He says, except in the case of unchastity. But once you allow an exception, you've changed the whole understanding. And furthermore, at a later stage, St. Paul allowed that when a Christian


and a non-Christian married, if the non-Christian was not satisfied to live with the Christian, they could separate and he could marry again. So again, an exception was made. So we can't say that this is a law of which there are no exceptions. In fact, the Eastern Church has always permitted divorce. So today it's an open question that the Roman Church holds very firmly the presence of the law that you cannot divorce. But, as I say, the Eastern Church has held differently and all the other Christian churches practically. So it's a thing that needs reflection upon saying this is decided. It certainly is not decided by the words of Jesus and the Gospel. It's giving us a universal principle in which we have to judge what is the right way, how to make the law and how to apply that law. So I think we all need to reflect on it. It's a matter of causing great distress throughout the world today. You get many examples. People make a marriage when they're young


and it breaks up after a year or two. They then make a stable marriage, have a family, go on for years, and yet they're considered not properly married. They're not allowed to go to communion and so on. It's causing great distress in many places and many people feel the need. In fact, in the Synod of Bishops, the English cardinal and archbishop put forward this very strongly, the need to wreck this out. See, there are innumerable Catholic families. They're perfectly stable families. They've been together for years and years and yet because they had an earlier marriage which broke up, they're not considered to be properly married. They can't go to communion. It causes great scandal. So this needs reflection. The Church today is reflecting on it. And we all need to reflect on how to apply, as I say, universal principles to a particular situation. And always it needs a discernment. It needs discernment of spirit. It can't be done in a blanket way,


simply condemning and making it without distinction. So we ask for this discernment of spirit as to how the Church should answer this problem. You suggested that this Gospel is related to the custom of infant baptism. It seems probable that in the early Church it was taken in that way. The language used is very strong here. It says, when Jesus saw it, he was indignant. The word indignant is only used once in the Gospel. It's very strong. And you can't prove it, but the custom grew up very early of infant baptism, the point being, of course, that the child doesn't belong to Jesus properly until he's baptized. Therefore, Christian families wanted their children to belong to him from the first moment. And that is how the custom is introduced. It has disadvantages, of course, but also it has its meaning.


But much deeper than that is the saying, unless you become a good child, you cannot enter the Kingdom of God. And the child, you can say, there are three aspects of a child. I think humility, simplicity, and receptivity. First of all, humility. The child is humble in the sense of being poor, simple, having nothing in itself, you see. It owes everything to others. And that sense of being empty of oneself. When you're full, then nobody can do anything with you. When you're empty, then God can do something in you. That's the quality of spirit. And then simplicity. We all get complicated as we grow older, and get educated, and all these complications arise, and of course, to some extent, it's necessary, but we have to learn how to simplify all these differences, all these contradictions in our lives.


And in meditation, particularly, we try to become simple. This ekagraha, they call it, one point of this, is to reduce all these complexities of life to their original simplicity, their inner simplicity, the purity of heart, it is really. And so that's the simplicity of a child, is that oneness. And as you know, we all seek that oneness. We're all multiple in many aspects in our lives, and we're always trying to bring them back to unity, to become one, to become whole. And that again, you see, the meaning of this, to be like a child. And then receptivity is perhaps the most important of all. A child has to learn everything, and to be receptive is to be open to God, to realize that one is totally in need. And again, we have all these complexities, and we acquire a personality, and we have so many capabilities and so on,


and we begin to center on ourselves. And then that becomes a great obstacle to union with God. And when we can get rid of all those complexities and that inquisitiveness and that assertiveness, where we assert ourselves all the time, and we open that up, become receptive, then God can enter in, and a deeper reality emerges in our lives. And all this complexity really hides the deeper, and in a very deep sense we can say that there is a child in every person, and it gets covered over as we go on. And yet the child spirit remains, a spirit of total receptivity. As we let the other aspects go, the surface of our lives, then this childlike simplicity, receptivity emerges, and then we become open to God. So I think those who are doing meditation, of course, all of us with yoga, this union that is recovering this unity of our beings,


this oneness, and it's being totally receptive. In the meditation we're trying to be receptive of God, allowing all the complexities to subside, and the inner simplicity of the wholeness of our being to emerge. So we can all ask for this grace. And I mentioned that Virgin Mary is a beautiful example of this receptivity. For one thing, it's feminine. See, the passive receptivity is like that of a child, it's also feminine. The feminine character, the lesbian character is more assertive and dominating, the feminine character is receptive and sustaining. And Mary has the spiritual total receptivity. She had nothing else. For herself she was nothing, but she could receive the Word of God, and because she received it, she became totally transformed. So we also ask for that receptivity to be transformed by the Word of God, to receive it in our hearts, and to bring it forth in our lives


in the way that she also, from Christ to the world. Thank you. This group of gospel is particularly challenging today, because people today are concerned more than anything else with what they should eat, what they should drink, how they should be clothed and sheltered. And Jesus presents this challenge, he says, do not be anxious about your life, what you should eat or what you should drink, about your body, what you should put on, not life more than food and body and clothing. And I say it's a challenge, and obviously you can't neglect the need for food and drink and clothing. In a country like India we know people in need of these things all the time. And yet the question is a question of priority. It's not that you don't have to be concerned at all with these things, but you have first of all to be concerned with the kingdom of God.


Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. If we seek first of all food and clothing, shelter, medicine, health, all these material needs, then we put ourselves on the wrong path. And that is what has happened today. And when we seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, we seek the will of God and the love of God, then we can be concerned with these things also. We don't have to neglect them, but they're put in their proper place. And when we enter religious life, that is really the aim we set before us. Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. We don't neglect the need for food and clothing, and we don't neglect the need to help others for food and clothing. But we put first the kingdom of God. And I feel this is the challenge of the gospel. Today people are much concerned with social justice, the needs of the poor,


and we have to be concerned with them. But we have to have the priority. If we're simply concerned with giving people food and clothing and shelter and medicine and education, we're not serving the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God has to come first. And when Jesus says, seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, what does the kingdom of God mean? Surely, first of all, the kingdom of God is within you. You will not find the kingdom of God outside you unless you first of all find it within. The kingdom of God is the reign of God. And God reigns only in the human heart. When we realize the kingdom of God in our own hearts, then we begin to realize in the hearts of others and we're able to share it with others. It's not something you keep to yourself. The kingdom of God is universal. It's God's presence. And God's righteousness. What is the righteousness of God? It's the right relationship of human being to God.


It's a relationship of love. God calls us to love, but he gives us love. So the kingdom of God and his righteousness is his presence of God in the heart and his love. And that's what we have to realize. And that's what we come to religious life to realize, to consecrate our lives to this search for the presence of God in the heart, presence by love, which he's giving to us and which he wants us to share with others. And so that is the search we make. And in the Benedictine tradition, there are three vows. The first vow is about stability. And that you bind yourself to a community. You search for God within a particular community. You don't do it as an isolated person. You unite yourself with others, engaged in the same search. And so you bind yourself to live together with others, to share with them, to seek for them, to be with them. And the second vow is not the ordinary one, the formative gesture.


It's about conversion of life, which is much more general. And that means that day by day you have to renew this search and this commitment to search for the kingdom of God, to become aware of the presence of God in your life, to become aware of this love and its demands on you. And it's a constant conversion. You make a promise once, but you have to renew it every day of your life. So we live in this state of conversion, continually turning to God, trying to realize his call in our lives. And the third vow is the vow of obedience. And obedience is essentially obedience to the will of God. Jesus himself said, I come to do the will of him who sent me. And we're going to do the will of God. And we find that will through various means, through our community, but also through other people we meet, through the situation of the world in which we are. All these things reveal the will of God to us in different ways. So we make this commitment to the kingdom of God and his righteousness.


And I think today, you see, this call is very strong because people are overwhelmed with this need for food and clothing and medicine and for the necessities of life. And no one can deny it when people are dying and starving and so on. And the call is there. But unless we see that the primary thing is the love of God, that is what will enable us to give to others, to serve others. Unless we realize that kingdom of God within us, we shall not realize it without. And I think the great danger of simply going out, getting food and clothing, that's all right, but that's not what people need. People need more than food and clothing and medicine and shelter. They need the love of God. And that is what the Church is called to do, to give the love of God to others. And you cannot give the love of God to others unless you have it for yourself. So we have to ask for this place to make that the priority of our lives,


to call to this kingdom of God, the realization of God within. And in India particularly, people search for this awareness of the presence of God within. You'll be reading that wonderful text of the Padua Gita this morning. It's extremely appropriate. Give me thy life, give me thy sacrifice, give me thy adoration. Because you are dear to me, God assists, gives everything to him, our sacrifice, our adoration, and we are dear to him and he will come to me. And that is the call of the Gospel, which was given in India, which is given to us all from the Gospel of Christ. So we are all being called to this giving of our lives to God, consecrating our sacrifice, our adoration, because we are dear to him. God loves us and he wants us to receive his love and to give it to others. So we ask for this grace, Father Martin particularly, but for ourselves,


we're all involved in this search for the kingdom of God. It's a challenge of the whole world today, what people are looking for in this violence, in this conflict, the war going on around us all the time, because people have not found this, they're searching for... You see, you cannot serve God and mammon. And mammon is money. And people are searching for money all the time. They think that is what is going to save us. We can only have money, we can do anything. And that is the great illusion. We have to recognize it, and we're all exposed to it. Money can do so many things, to believe that that is really the answer. If only the poor can have money, then they're going to have all they need. That is the great illusion. It's that you cannot serve God and mammon. God is love, and people want love, not money. And money will come along if you give love. So we have to ask for this grace to realize the cause of the gospel today, to realize it in our own lives, each individually, in a community,


and as in the church as a whole. So we have to ask for this grace for ourselves, especially for the martyrs. This gospel is very challenging, as you know. It raises this whole problem of riches, wealth. And it begins by this man saying to Jesus, Good Master, what can I do to inherit eternal life? And he said, Why do you call me good? And there's a deep meaning in this. Jesus treated nothing to himself. He received everything from the Father. I think it's very important this. He gives that example of total dependence. The son does nothing but what he sees the father doing. The son has everything from the father. And therefore he wouldn't... This man was flattering him. And they say the word good had a very strong sense, like holy master, divine master, as people often say in India.


And Jesus would not accept that kind of flattery, that kind of speech. And he wanted to refer everything back to God, to the father. And then the young man asks him what he's to do. And Jesus gives the commandments. And he says, All I have done for my youth. And clearly he's a good man who's done his best. And then Jesus makes this very challenging thing. And Jesus looked on him and loved him. It's very striking this. There's a tremendous movement of love towards him. He saw this great possibility in him. And he challenged him, said, Go sell all that you have. And we needn't think this only of external riches. It's the whole problem of riches in general. How we deal with our riches. And furthermore Jesus says, How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God. And then the disciples are astonished and say, Who can be saved? He says, How hard it is for those who trust in riches.


And that is really the point. Riches themselves are nothing. And you can have great riches and it may not affect you. It's the trust in riches which is the problem. And that means that your ego goes into it. It means that you're depending on these riches. And they exalt you. They give you your sense of importance. And that is a great problem. Whether it's material wealth. For us it's great material wealth. They feel important. It gives them importance. And they cling to that importance. They cling to themselves. And so it is with all other riches. Maybe intellectual riches. Or spiritual riches. Or whatever riches of a family. Whatever we may have. When we trust in them. When we make that our center. We depend on them. And we depend on them for our own sense of self-importance. That is a real problem. And that is idolatry.


And that is what Jesus is attacking. And why he's so strong against it. And I think we all need to reflect on it. It's not our weaknesses, our failures and so on. Which is the real problem. It is our... Whatever wealth we have. Whatever values we have in our lives. Those are the things that become the great obstacle. That is why the world today is further from God than it's ever been. Because it's richer than it's ever been. This incredible wealth now. Of technology. Every week almost you hear of a new breakthrough in technology. In medicine. Or in computers. Or whatever. In television. They're all marvels are coming. And people are so rich. So full. That they have no place for God at all. And they think. You see. That is their support. Their whole life is now supported by these things. If they were taken away they would be lost. And so these great riches are keeping people away from God. That is in the obvious material sense. And then of course science you see.


You've got this incredible knowledge. We've never had such a knowledge in the world as people have today. And again it becomes the great obstacle. That is everything. Your importance. We are the... Humanity come of age. We've now reached the pinnacle of humanity. We're the best in the world. And again you get your own self-importance. And you lose the real value of life. And then perhaps the greatest danger is the spiritual riches. You see. People have a great spiritual past. It's very common in India. You get yogis and swamis who have tremendous past. Tremendous following. And they have hundreds of thousands of disciples sometimes. And the danger of self-exaltation is extreme. You see. It's very difficult not to feel you are important. And that all this gives you some status. Some power. Some value in life. And not to refer it to God. So again and again. It's not the riches themselves.


The spiritual powers are good. And the intellectual power. Science is good. And technology is good. But when they become the support of your life. When you get your own self-importance from them. Then that is the idolatry. That is the fatal obstacle to God. And God may love you. Jesus looked on him and loves him. And yet you can't accept that love. You've got too much that you cling to. And ultimately you can't give up yourself. You see. It all comes back to that. It's not the external things. It's the ego of the self which is clinging to these things. Gets its importance from them. And so we all have to examine ourselves. Whatever gifts we have. When we cling to them. And when we take our own self-importance from them. Then they become the insuperable obstacle to the love of God. And when we surrender them. And allow ourselves to accept that they are purely the gifts of God. We are nothing. Unless you realize. I'm nothing in myself. Whatever I have is from God.


Then you can't get any understanding. Any real experience of God. You don't discover. You don't even know yourself. You see. You create this false self. This false image. Which is a mask. The persona is a mask. Which hides you all the time. From yourself and from God. And when that is broken. And only the love of God can break it. And Jesus looked on it. And we accept that love. Then we surrender ourselves. And then we can have all these riches. You can have whatever you like. Total inner surrender. So that's the challenge which we all face. We all have to ask for that grace. It is the grace of God. To be able to give up all that attachment to ourselves. And to our riches. And to accept the love of God. As a pure gift. You see. A pure gift of grace. It's the gift of God in Christ. Jesus had been teaching his disciples.


His deed to be detached from this world. The acts of pure life. What to eat. What to drink. And so on. And now Peter says. We've given up everything and followed you. And Jesus makes his promise. Those who have left father or mother or wife or children or land. For my sake. Shall receive a hundredfold. And we don't need to take this in the literal sense. There are people who give up father or mother or lands. And it can be a grace. But it isn't merely giving things up which really counts. You can give up many things. And yet be still attached to them. It's the inner disposition which really counts. Whether it's detachment or detachment. And I think detachment is the word really. For the disposition which we all have to learn. In regard to everything. It applies to material possessions.


You see. It isn't really having material possessions which is harmful. It's the attachment. We were thinking yesterday. He said. Our heart is for those who trust in riches. It's not simply the riches. It's the trust. The dependence on them. And the attachment to them which is evil. And same way with personal relationships. It's not attachment to father or mother. Sorry. It's not the giving up father and mother and so on which counts. It's whether one is attached. And attachment means an egoistic attitude towards people. Very attached to people when you want to get something from them. And when we cling to them. And a mother can be attached to the child in that way. She clings to the child. She wants the child to be exactly as she wants it to be. She won't allow the child to become itself. And that is a selfish love. You see. That is an attachment. And it really applies to all human relationships.


Kabir, the poet we read every evening. He's so wonderful I think in all his understanding. One of his great themes is the need for love and detachment. See detachment does not mean a lack of love. Obviously it means a lack of selfish desire. Selfish attachment. Which is ultimately self love. And genuine love is always detached. Because it seeks the good of the other. And when you have that kind of love then you are quite free from this selfish attachment. It applies to a husband and a wife you see. They can love one another. But they can also be very attached to one another. And cling to one another. And often suffocate one another with their love. There is a love which is totally possessive and destructive. You all know. And on the other hand you see you can have a love which is totally detached. And really seeks totally the good of the other. And the love of God is like that. You see God loves each person for themselves. He doesn't want to make them into something different.


He's created them, given them their own disposition. And he wants each one to be themselves. To discover. And that is genuine love. And of course genuine love also gives freedom. That is why God leaves people free. They have their capacity and they can use it for good and they can use it for evil. But love demands freedom you see. You have to allow a person to be free. They are going to learn to love. And I think that's the only explanation. If there is an explanation of all the evil in the world. Why is it there is so much evil? Because God allows freedom. And without freedom they cannot love. And the world was created by love and for love. To create beings capable of love. Totally unselfish love. Love of self-surrender which is really detached. So I always feel this detachment really is the key. And all through the Bhagavad Gita which we have just finished reading. The basic theme is always that of detachment. That's the whole list of the Gita is.


Do your work whatever you have to do. But do it with detachment. Don't be selfishly attached to it. Clinging to it. Clinging to people. Clinging to things. Clinging to yourself absolutely. The whole root of it is whether we cling to ourselves. Cling to ourselves in everything we do. Which to some extent we all tend to do. Or whether we are detached from ourselves. Surrendered and allowing people to be. Allowing the world to be. Allowing God to be. Totally for the action of God in the world. So I think we all need to reflect on this. It isn't so much a matter of giving things up. Or giving people up. You may be called to do so, detached. You may be called that. But equally you may be asked to keep things. You may be asked to have a lot of wealth. There is no objection to being a wealthy man. If you see that wealth as a gift of God. Which you are really totally detached from. Which you use in the service of God. And the same way with personal relationships. You may be called to marriage. Or some large family of many responsibilities.


But if it is done in the spirit of detachment. It is totally acceptable to God. On the other hand another person may be called to give all that up. To leave us a hermit somewhere. In total solitude. And again if he clings to his solitude. And thinks it is something important to himself and so on. Then it could be destructive. On the other hand when he accepts it as a gift from God. And he lives his solitude for the sake of others. Then that becomes perfectly acceptable to God. So I think we all need to accept that. There is no mystery in the sense of detachment. It really is the key to borrow that. Two ways of looking at this season of Lent. One which is traditional in modern times. To think that primarily that human beings are all sinners. And we bring punishment upon ourselves for our sins.


Eventually we bring death. And we pray for forgiveness. Sin is a time of repentance. As we read in the prophet John. He says. He says. Presper thy people O Lord. Make not thy heritage a reproach. Why should they I say among the Gentile people. Where is their God? This is. Sanctify our fast. And so on. So we recognize our sinfulness. And we undertake fasting, prayer, almsgiving. As ways to appease the wrath of God. And to bring us grace. And that is one way of looking at it. And the other way which is much more profound.


Is to see that Lent as I said is preparation for Easter. Preparation for new life. As Christians were born to this new life. And our whole life is a preparation for the resurrection. For the new life which is offered us. And everything we do is in view of that. And so Lent is something not very negative. But very positive. You see we have inherited a very negative morality. Where we think always how sinful we are. How we need forgiveness. How we must do penance for our sins. And so on. And that is one way. It has a certain validity. But it is very limited. And to many people today it doesn't respond to their inner need. And the other is that we are born to eternal life. Sin has entered our life. But Jesus has come and set us free from sin. You see St. Paul says in that reading from the Corinthians. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin.


So that in him we might become the righteousness of God. Jesus took the sin of humanity on him. That we might become the righteousness of God. We share in the life of God. The righteousness of God is his life. It is his love. We have been offered his life and his love. And that is our calling. And so sin is trying... The end is a time when we try to prepare ourselves. To open ourselves to this mystery of grace. The eternal life of love, of truth. Which is being offered us. And the traditional ways were fasting, prayer, fasting and almsgiving. In the gospel Jesus mentions these three ways. Which among the Jews were traditional. And so among Christians. But again... We can look on... We can look on... Prayer and fasting and almsgiving as something external.


We add some extra prayers to our daily life. We undertake some fasting, deny ourselves in things. Not merely in food. But in other things which attract us, pleasures of life. And we try to make up for our own deficiencies by giving to others. So it becomes an external ritual which we perform. But the gospel puts the opposite. Jesus is asserting all the time. Don't make external prayers. Don't make external fasting. Don't make external almsgiving. Do it in secret. That your father who sees in secret may reveal you. And this is you see today. People are looking for an interior religion. All this exterior religion with its prayers and its fasting and so on. Makes very little appeal. People are looking for an inner transformation. And that is the gospel message. That Jesus inherited this exterior religion with all its rites and ceremonies.


He was calling people to the religion of the heart. Your father who sees in secret is the God dwelling in the heart. And here in India we have a long tradition of deep understanding of the indwelling presence of God in the heart. And that is what our real calling is. And when we prepare ourselves in death we try to enter into this inner sanctuary. The presence of God within. And we do whatever helps us to enter into that life. Because this eternal life which is promised us is not an external life. It's an interior life. It's a life of the soul, of the inner spirit. And we try to prepare ourselves for it. And prayer, fasting and almsgiving all have their place. Prayer, not external prayer. It's not to add some extra prayer. It's to grow more deeply into the awareness of presence of God. That is the meaning of prayer. Become more aware of God's indwelling presence. And when we do meditation, as you are doing a meditation course,


the whole purpose of it is to become more and more aware of this indwelling presence. To give in it, to awake to its full reality in our lives. And then with fasting it's not simply giving up food or external things. It's what we were speaking of yesterday. It's detachment. Learning to be detached from oneself, from external things, from other people. To become, again you see, through detachment from the external, we become aware of the interior reality, the inner presence of God within. So fasting also is a way of opening ourselves to the indwelling spirit. And finally, almsgiving. When we discover the presence of God within, we discover his presence in every other person around us. We realize that we're all sharing together. We're all members of one body. And we have this instinct to go out to others, to share with others. And I think today people see religion more and more in these two ways. One, to discover the inner reality, the truth of God within.


And the other, to share it with others. To be open to others. So we can try to make our athlete a time of inner realization. Realizing God within and then sharing with others. So the two go together. It's very important not to separate them. Many of us feel the need to go out to others to share. And often neglect this inner life. And others may think the inner life is everything and neglect to share with others. But we want to try to bring those together in our lives. So we can try to make this then a time of inner realization. God realization. God dwelling within each one. And at the same time of openness to others. Each in our own way. How we can express this life which is the love of God within us. By sharing with others. So we each ask to find a way to express it in the best possible manner. So let us make our athlete this positive movement of openness to others. To the new life which has given us in the resurrection.


And allow the grace of God to work in us. Not for ourselves alone, but for the church as a whole. That the church should be a witness to this new life. You see, not a negative force telling people how sinful they are. And they're all going to be punished and go to hell if they don't change. But a call to eternal life offered in Christ. Who has died for our sins and set us free. And enabled us to open our hearts to eternal life. To his presence in our lives. So that is really the message of the church today. The question of fasting raises quite a number of problems. In this gospel in particular. You know, fasting was a custom among the Jews. And they come to Jesus and ask, why do your disciples not fast?


Well, the disciples of the Pharisees do. Jesus says, can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away. And then they will fast. And this raises a problem. Because, of course, in one sense, Jesus was taken away from his disciples. The crucifixion. But in a much deeper sense, he returned to them and is ever with them. So there's no time when the bridegroom is not with his people. And some think that perhaps this was added by the church. Jesus didn't really say the bridegroom will be taken away. It doesn't much matter. The point is that fasting belongs to the time of the law. We are under this law. And you need some guidelines, some discipline to help you to draw nearer to God. And fasting is one of these disciplines which was imposed.


The Jews had their times and the church later on had its own. I think the Jews fasted on Mondays and Thursdays. And the church fasted on Wednesdays and Saturdays. This was simply a law which was imposed. And that belongs to the old law. To the old system of religion. And I think we have to distinguish between the institutional church and the eschatological church. Jesus founded the eschatological church. The church of the end of time. Also the gospel is speaking of this kingdom of God which is about to come. It shall not have gone over the cities of Israel before the kingdom of God shall come. And the twelve apostles he appointed were really apostles of the eschatological church. Who sit on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel, he says. And Jesus' whole concern was with this end of time.


When the fulfillment would take place. And the church which he founded is the church of the end of time. When all is fulfilled. He certainly made some provision for the institutional church, Peter and the apostles. There was just a basis was made. But all the rest he left for the church to decide. All of our organization of the church doesn't come from Jesus. It comes from the apostles in our later times. It comes largely from the second century. And Jesus left that time, this historical church, to develop on its own. He was concerned with the eschatological, the fullness of the reality of the church. And I think this is very important today. Because many people are very disillusioned with the institutional church, whether Catholic or Orthodox or Protestant. Many people leave the church today because they're disillusioned with it. And I think if we simply look at the institutional church, there's not much reason to have very great faith.


Only the institutional church is the copy, the shadow, the outward appearance in history of this eschatological church. Of this kingdom of God which Jesus established. And that is the real church. And we all belong, through this historical church, we belong to the eternal church. And I think it's very important today, as I say, one can easily be disillusioned with the church as it is. And it's always full of corruption and evil of every kind. It always has been. But behind the institutional church, behind this framework, as it were, there is this reality of the kingdom of God, of the eternal church. And the presence of the bridegroom, you see, is always present to his church in that way. He's not present when people are living in sin and selfishness and so on. But he's always present to those who seek his place. And in that sense, we all belong to this eschatological church, the mystical church.


And today, more and more people see the reality of religion as mystical religion. And in all religions it's the same. Take Hinduism, all the corruption in Hinduism. Take the Hindu temples, everybody knows you have to pay money for everything you do. And it's a racket to pay peanuts and so on. And in every religion you have the same thing. But behind all that is always the presence of the mystery of God, which was the origin of the religion. And it still remains. And so we always have to see behind this facade of religion through the divine mystery which is present. It may be very, very shadowed by the rest. It may be hardly visible. And yet it's always there if you seek it to be paid. And so we have to realize that. The mystery of the church is the mystery of the church, which is the reality. And the historical framework and so on is the necessary form which it has to take in this world. But we have always to go beyond that form, that structure, to the inner reality of it.


And perhaps we could also take a lesson from the reading from the prophet Isaiah, where he compares the fast which the Jews were observing of humbling themselves and denying themselves from sackcloth and ashes and so on, and the fast which God really asked. He says, Is not this the fast which I choose? To loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke. To share your bread with the hungry, bring the homeless poor into your house. And this is the fast of the eternal church, you see. It's the church which is totally surrendered to God and totally open to humanity. And it is the church which we seek to serve and which we seek to create, you see. Every generation has to recreate the church out of the historical system with all its faults. The reality of the kingdom of God, of Christ's presence, has to be rediscovered.


It's always there, and it has always to be rediscovered. So that's really our responsibility. We can leave the church as it is, and millions leave it, you know. Millions leave the church today, every year. And particularly of the young, because they don't find meaning in it. But if we learn to look behind the facade, behind the institutional, we can always discover the eternal church, this mystical reality, which is Christ himself, always present to those who seek him. So that's our responsibility, to discover the church in ourselves, in our own life, and to share that with others, because people are looking for that vision of the church. They don't leave the church because they don't want it. They leave it because they're disillusioned with it, and they want to see the reality which they're seeking. And there is that search for truth, for reality, for the meaning of life, which is everywhere. The church has to answer that search, you see, that desire which people have.


And it only answers it when people live it. If you want to see the living example of the church in our lives, that's what we're all called to do.