Unknown year, June talk, Serial 00625

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I have a memory of St. Peter and St. Paul, the fathers of the earthly church, and we reflect on Jesus who came to establish the Kingdom of God. And it's clear that Jesus left his disciples with the expectation he would return in their own lifetime, which was passing beyond, he would come again and establish the Kingdom. And surely this was quite deliberate, he wanted to make it clear that this church was an eternal church, the Kingdom of God, which was to be the fulfillment of all. Jews had waited for the Messiah to come and fulfill all things. He'd come and in him all things were fulfilled. And so there is a heavenly dimension to the church, and that is the real church, the church which is everlasting, and which embraces all humanity, who came to redeem not simply the


Jews, the Jews, the Gentiles, but the whole of humanity. And this church is the church of redeemed mankind. And on the other hand, that church had to have a historic development. Jesus didn't leave any provision for the historic development, but he allowed it to the Holy Spirit to guide his disciples into that. And Peter and Paul went out and they founded churches, and we have churches now all over the world. And all these churches are the earthly expression of this heavenly reality. And I think we always have to go beyond the earthly church to the Kingdom of God, to the eternal truth, reality, which Jesus came to establish. And it has an earthly center. Peter is a center. Paul is a center. And these churches are centers where the mystery of the Kingdom of God is being revealed, is being communicated, is being lived. And so the mystery is lived out in historic time and place, but the mystery itself is always


beyond. And I think it's very important today we see so many churches that are divided and have many problems among themselves. And they're all symbols, they all have their place in this divine plan, but the reality is beyond all this. The church is that heavenly Jerusalem, that eternal kingdom to which all humanity is called. The church went out to the Gentiles, it went out to Greece, went to Rome, went to Europe, went to America, a few fringes here in Asia. But this church is a temple church which will pass away. But the real church is the church which embraces all humanity from the beginning, from Adam to the first man. The whole humanity is called into this church, this eternal kingdom. And it has its place among all people here in India. The church has its place with the whole tradition of Vedas and Parishads, Gita, the holy men of India. They all belong to this eternal church where God is calling humanity through so many different


paths, and we're all being called to enter into that unity of humanity. Jesus came to restore unity to humanity as a whole. The kingdom of God is humanity restored to unity, to oneness with God, oneness with themselves, the hope of the human world. So I think we need always to keep in mind these two dimensions, the eternal reality, the kingdom of God, which is the final truth, which is revealed in the New Testament, and then the earthly manifestation of the kingdom, always imperishable, always subject to all the institution of human existence, but nevertheless witnessing to that eternal reality. The earthly church is witness to that eternal reality. And they lead people towards it. Sometimes they can be a stumbling block and be a countersign, and we all know it. But on the other hand, they also remain signs, symbols of the mystery.


And we all have to try to live out the mystery in our own historic time and place with all our limitations. We have to live out the mystery of the kingdom of God, the mystery of the church, for which St. Paul said very beautifully in the letter to the Ephesians, he made him head over all things to the church. He made him head over all things of the whole creation to the church, which is the fullness of him who fills all in all. The church is that fullness of him, this redeemed humanity, which the fullness of the Godhead has revealed, and which is taken up into that fullness. And in our prayer we say, PORONAMADA PORONAMIDAM. PORONAMADA is God, is that fullness of reality. PORONAMIDAM is this earthly reality, this earthly church, which is taken up into the PORONAMIDAM, the fullness, the PLEROMA, the divine. And this is the mystery we celebrate, and we all need to enter more and more deeply into it, and extend our vision to all humanity, and ultimately to the whole creation, for


the whole creation is called into the kingdom of God. At the same time, to recognize its presence on earth, among ourselves, in the earthly churches, there are still signs, manifestations of that kingdom, which however imperfect, nevertheless witness to it, and our calling is to witness to the mystery of that kingdom of God here in our midst. Q. If the Gospel raises certain problems, many people think these major miracles, these and not to be taken literally at all. Others think that they're simply the work of God. God alone can control the wind and the sea.


There's a great deal of evidence that matter can be controlled in this way. We tend to think of nature as a system of definite laws which can't be broken, and any talk of walking on water or on fire must be an illusion. But in reality, there's a great deal of evidence that these things do happen in India, particularly walking on water, walking through the fire, and also walking through solid matter. The story of St. Peter was imprisoned, and he went through the doors and everything, and when they were locked, he came out. And these are what are called cities, exceptional cars, but they're very quite real, and there's no reason to doubt them. It's just an illusion that people have grown up with, that nature is bound by these physical


laws. And today, as you know, in scientific view, matter is conceived as energy, all matter is a field of energies, and it's simply a question of transforming the energy. The energy manifests in this solid matter here, but we know beneath the solid matter are all these electrons and protons and all these energies which are simply vibrating all the time. And there's no reason to doubt that these energies can be controlled. People can walk on water, they can walk through fire. Even in Kulitala every year people walk through the fire and they're not burnt. And this going through solid matter, walking through a wall or a door, it's also been manifested quite frequently. So we have to revise our view of matter. It's not the solid thing we imagine with these fixed laws, it's a field of energies of which we ourselves are part, and which can be transformed.


And the transformation of these energies, really the work of creation, all those energies are being transformed. The solid matter is transformed into life, and living cells are transformed into spheres of consciousness. We ourselves, our bodies, with their physical matter and their living forces, become conscious. We awaken to consciousness. And we're destined to go beyond that. Our bodies and our minds and consciousness are destined to be transformed, go beyond its present limitations. And the resurrection is that transformation of matter, of energy, into a new mode of being. So the resurrection becomes a definite fact in the history of the world, it's something to which the whole universe is moving. So we need to revise our views. I see one view is these things can't happen, it's just not scientific. The other view is only God can do it, only God can still the water and the wind. But the truth is that it's neither simply matter nor simply God.


There is a force present in human nature which is able to go beyond these forces of nature, and in the resurrection Jesus revealed that power to go beyond death into eternity. So we all need to reflect a little on this, realize the deep truth behind it, and that it's something working in us. That power which is beyond nature is in us. The power of this spirit is present in humanity and can go beyond what we would all expect to walk on water or rocks with power, because we have the faith that these things can be done. There is a power in the world which is beyond all these forces of nature, and that power is present in humanity, present in us, and it's leading us to the resurrection, to the time when all these forces are transcended, and we enter into the freedom of the spirit. And that's the goal of all creation. Scott's book creates a very close connection between sin and disease.


Today we've rather lost sight of it. In the ancient world it's generally recognized, and part of the reason is that we think of sin today as something conscious and deliberate. And there are, of course, conscious and deliberate sins, but they are comparatively insignificant. It's the unconscious sin which is the real problem of the world. And everybody is born with sin, and this state of disease. Sin is disharmony between the person and God and creation. We're built for harmony between creation, between ourselves, with God, and sin destroys that harmony. We're all born in a state of disharmony, of disintegration. We have to integrate ourselves. And this is born into us, and this is inherited. You see, everybody inherits the sin of the past. It comes down from the first man right through to all generations. We're all born in this state of disintegration, of disharmony.


And it's disharmony at every level. We're out of harmony with nature and the world around, out of harmony with other people, our own emotional life, and we're out of harmony with God, the source of all. And this is built into us. We're not responsible persons at all. It's built into us. We inherit it. We grow into it. And this is original sin. This is the root sin, which is in everything. And it's not personal. We're not responsible persons at all. On the contrary, we're suffering from it. And from a sustainable sin, a conscious personal sin arises out of this. And when people do things consciously wrong, whether they commit murder, adultery, theft or whatever, they're simply consciously enacting what their unconscious is trying to do. That's why you can't judge people. In the end, the most terrible things, people commit multiple murders, they kill their own children, all sorts of things happen.


But because they're being driven by these forces in the unconscious, which they've inherited, which have grown in, even in the womb, the child has been molded. The emotions of the mother are affecting the child in the womb, and the first two years are almost decisive of what kind of emotional experience you have in your first two years. It affects your whole life. You have love and comfort and security, you get that deep sense of love and security. If you're rejected, you have insecurity, a feeling of being rejected, of evil, then your whole life is affected by it. And there's still up to the age of five. After that, you can't change anything very much. It doesn't mean, of course, that you're condemned, because all these negative forces can always be changed. You see, we may be born with all these disadvantages, physical or psychological, but they can all be changed. If you open your heart to God, to the inner spirit, this transformation can take place.


And Jesus came to bring that transformation. He doesn't condemn that man, but he simply says, your sins are forgiven, arise and walk. Once this disharmony in our inner being has been healed, then the body also is healed and the health is restored. So we need to recover this sense of the relation between sin and disease. And today, of course, it's becoming more and more recognized that all disease in some way is psychosomatic. And even the most serious disease is that when you learn to see it like that, it changes it. Cancer is the most difficult one, of course. Once you get cancer, you feel you're condemned to death, and you can give way to despair, and it's just something that's come upon you out of the blue. It has come out of your unconscious, because some disharmony in your being produces a disharmony in your body, and then it produces this cancer which destroys the body. But if you learn to see that this is a force of nature which is working in you, and there's


something in you beyond that force of nature, the grace of God is present, the spirit is present, and if you learn to open your heart to that, then you can bear the cancer. It becomes something quite different, and it can even become a source of grace. You begin to realize your body is not everything, your body is going to die, your body is going to be discarded, and then you begin to discover the spirit within, that God is in you, and you are in God, and that when the body dies, then you are going to find your fulfillment. A total transformation can take place. So we all need to reflect on this. You see, we've all got this idea that disease is simply something physical. You get a germ, some accident happens, and the body is not the same, but it's never a real accident. Why do you get the germ? What is it that attracts the germ to you? You see, there's something in you which opens you to these infections. As you know, an epidemic can go around, and the doctor will go around completely free


from it. He's not exposed to it in the same way. And so, whether you get an epidemic, you suffer or not, depends on your own inner dispositions. So we all have to discover how to deal with disease. It's not something external to us. It is partly external, of course, but the external force stimulates something within, a disorder within us, a disease in us, and the spirit can heal that disease. It's the secret of God. Jesus Christ comes to heal our diseases, to heal the disease of the body, the disease of the mind, and to restore us to this inner unity, this harmony which we have created. So we all ask Christ to discover this very great mystery and this great truth, you see, that we are not simply exposed to this thing. There's something in us which attracts disease, and there's something in us which can overcome disease and preserve salvation. Jesus Christ, the center of inspiration for the father.


And this is the Christian revelation. Many people have had experience of God. In India, we have our own tradition of experience of God, of ultimate reality. In the Palishas, we have the revelation of the Atman, the inner spirit. In India, we have the revelation of the Atman. In the Palishas, the spirit is the light of man. And Buddha also had a unique revelation, not of God precisely, but of absolute reality, of final truth. And Jesus has this unique experience of God, ultimate, in this relationship, the son to the father. In the Indian tradition, it's very always a question of identity, I am Brahman. It's a recognition that there is a oneness between God and man. But in Jesus, there is a oneness, I am the father of one. There's always unity and distinction in relationship. And this is a revelation of the Godhead. The Godhead is not pure being, pure consciousness.


It is being in relationship, which means love, you see, love is relationship. And ultimate reality is this relationship of love. And we're all called to share in that relationship, in that love. Jesus has his unique knowledge, his unique love of the father. He communicates it in the spirit. The spirit is that love between the father and the son, communicated to us, which enables us to share in that relationship of sonship to the father, to enter into the inner life of God. And this is the unique Christian revelation. We need to recognize it, to see its distinction. At the same time, to recognize that in India also there has been a revelation of God, very profound. And it's not contradictory, but it's another way of experiencing and expressing this reality. And then Jesus gives a further indication when he says, Come to me, all who labor on a heavy load, and I will give you rest.


Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart. And we get this revelation not by speculation or by great wisdom, but by this humility of heart, this openness. When we're totally empty of ourselves, surrendered, then we discover this mystery of relationship. We discover our sonship. We discover the presence of the Holy Spirit. So, that again is, the whole thing centers around this mystery of love. Love communicating itself, but demanding the same self-giving and love. And when we reach that, then we experience the mystery of the Spirit. Then we know ourselves as sons of the Father. St. Paul says, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts of our Father. That is the revelation. God sends the Spirit of his Son, the Holy Spirit, which pervades the whole universe for what humanity has given to us.


And in that Spirit, we know Jesus as the Son. And in Jesus, we know God as Father. We're able to say, of our Father. It's a mystery of communicated love. God himself is communicated love. The Father communicates himself in love to the Son, the Son to the Father. And we're all called to share in that communication of love and communion. So, that is really our Christian calling. It's in every Christian community to live the mystery of grace, love, communion in the Holy Trinity. ...these twelve apostles, sending them out. There's a great mystery involved in it. You often think that the twelve simply went out into the world, established churches everywhere. But we have no real evidence of that at all. And it seems it's a much more profound mystery that, in a sense, these twelve are symbolic figures. We know very little about their future history.


And in fact, you see, Jesus left his disciples with the expectation that he would return at any time. He'd cast into heaven, and he was to return and establish all things. And they were all simply waiting for that return. And here he says, don't go to the Gentiles, or simply go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Restoring this house of Israel. And elsewhere he says, you shall sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. This is really a mystical church. And really, Jesus came to establish a church which would be the center for all humanity. But he's founded it on this base of Israel, the twelve tribes of Israel. You shall sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. He came to create the new Israel, which would be a meeting place for all humanity. And in the course of time, the church developed her own structures, but he left it to the Holy Spirit.


There's no evidence that Jesus made any plans for the future of the church. All that we have is a structure blew up, mainly from the second century, but guided by the Holy Spirit. He went beyond, and then he committed the Spirit to the church. The church should be guided by that Spirit. And so the church goes through history, developing her own structures, her own path, in different ways. And we're inheriting that church. And it all descends from Jesus and the apostles. The apostles in this rather mystical sense, you see. Those who received the Word of God and were commissioned to proclaim it. I think we need to have this more mystical conception of the church. Because if we think simply of the historic church, it's extremely limited. It went out into Europe, and for hundreds of years it never went outside Europe at all. And only in the 16th century it began to move out. It came to India, to America, and elsewhere.


But even there it's extremely limited. Today the number of Christians in Asia is about 2%. So quite obviously the church is not universal in that sense at all. But the church in principle is universal. It's this community which Jesus establishes to be the basis for the kingdom of God on earth. And today we think much more of the church as in the service of the kingdom. The church is a symbolic structure in a sense. It has this presence of Christ and the Word of God. But its range is extremely limited in the present. But it has this power to bring about a transformation in the world. And I say we think today of the church as a service of the world, of the kingdom. We are called to spread this mystery of the kingdom of God in the world, in India, wherever we are. So I think we need, as I say, to deepen our perception of the church.


We have a rather crude idea, as I say, that the apostles went down to appointed bishops and it all spread like that. But that is one particular historic development. But behind it is something much more universal. The church is not confined to the very limited, visible church which we perceive. The church is this mystery of transformation of the kingdom of God manifesting itself and spreading throughout the world. And all humanity is contained in that church. The message goes to all humanity from the beginning of the world to the end. You see, it's not a temporal, spatial structure. That is simply the outer form. But behind it is that mystery of the kingdom of God which embraces all humanity from the beginning to the end of time. And that is the true church. That is the universal church. So we need to see how to relate the visible, human, temporal, spatial church to this mystery of the church.


And Jesus came primarily to establish the mystery of the church. The transcendent mystery of the kingdom of God transforming humanity. And then the historic church grows out of that. And we belong to that. And we have to try to spread the gospel of the mystery throughout the world. I don't know whether you see the point I'm making. But at least to try to see behind the visible church the mystery which is the transformation of humanity by the gift of the spirit of God. That is the ultimate truth. What do we learn from this gospel? First of all, the very small scale on which Jesus preached his gospel takes these twelve disciples, twelve very distinguished people, and he sends them out into this small world of Palestine. And he's a small part of that world.


And he tells them not to go the way of the Gentiles, but to go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And he came to restore Israel. That was his primary work. And then through Israel go out to the world. And then he gives them these very remarkable powers. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. And there's no doubt that there's powers within Jesus himself. And he did give them to the disciples. We find in the early church that all these powers were manifested. And they still are manifested to some extent today. There are these spiritual gifts in the church. In the charismatic movement they've been fulfilled very strongly in recent times. And so those powers are there. And yet, of course, that's not the primary message of the gospel, this healing of people in their present life. It's to open them to something beyond this life altogether.


And then he gives the instruction, take no gold, no silver, no copper, no bag, no tunic, sandal, or staff. He sends them out as sannyasis, say, in India. Even more than a sannyasi, because a sannyasi does sometimes have a staff. But he sends them out in total simplicity. And perhaps that is a message for us today, that we especially had in India and in the third world, where people of great poverty, that the message of the gospel should be preached in poverty and simplicity, something we've not learnt yet, but perhaps we need to learn it. And when we preach from a situation of a high standard of life, we haven't got the same impact. In America you have these evangelists on television and they have an audience of millions and they have vast sums of money, huge resources,


and they have a certain impact. But also, you know, recently there have been some very serious scandals. And when the gospel is preached in that way, with wealth and display, clearly it's not going to have the same impact when it is preached with humility, with simplicity, and above all with love. You see, the gospel ultimately, as we read it, is a message of love. And you can't really spread love by television and by large-scale enterprises. Love is something very personal, which you have to communicate to others and share with them. And as I say also, certain simplicity of life is a condition of the most genuine love. We all know how a higher standard of life corrupts people, that unconsciously they are corrupted by it and you lose touch with reality, you live in your luxurious world and you forget about the poor, you forget about the normal condition of human life. And so Jesus really gives us this vision of a simple life


and a message of love which is communicated to a small group of people and then it can spread through the world. I think we need, as I say, we tend to think today in terms of large-scale evangelization and so on, and it has its place, we can use these things, but ultimately the message of the gospel, this message of love, has to be shared between persons, has to be something very human, very personal, very intimate, and that can really only be done on a small scale. And then the final message he gives is that whatever town or village you enter, find out who is worthy and stay with him until you depart. This idea that you go to a village and you just live with the people. Just recently we had a young man, a friend of mine, staying with us, and he's been preaching the gospel in Arunachal Pradesh, and the people there are extremely simple, tribal people.


Some have no clothing at all, live in total simplicity, others are living in just the ordinary simplicity of a village, and it's very interesting there how all these conditions are almost exactly fulfilled. You have to walk through the forest for miles, and you have practically nothing with you, and when you come to the village, they all come and share with you. There's total sharing, there's never a problem at all, they provide for you everything you need, and then waiting to hear the gospel. It's very interesting, they are totally open to it, and they'll even send for asking somebody to come and give them this message. So, among very simple people where this message can be received, the gospel can still be preached in that way, but of course in different situations it has to be preached in different ways, and we all have to find how we can communicate the gospel, which is ultimately how we can communicate love, you see.


So one has to search for oneself in one's own situation, how will we share this message of love with others, and that's really the responsibility of each and all of us. I'm fairly speaking of this gift of tongues, which appeared in this church in Corinth, and you won't have heard of it again for centuries, until it revived in the 19th century, and rather common today. It's a peculiar phenomenon. There's one form which is more normal perhaps, is when you speak in a foreign language, and it's often been found people speak some language they don't know at all. Others you make sounds which are not a language at all, not intelligible, and both are fairly common apparently. And St. Paul evidently thought rather a lot of them, and he says he speaks as well as anybody in tongues.


I think today we don't feel very much impressed with it. It's a psychic phenomenon, I would say, no great significance. The spirit may move you to utter words like that, and it's some people undoubtedly have found some kind of spiritual benefit in it, but as Paul says, it benefits you. It doesn't help anybody else very much, except they may admire you, and so he doesn't recommend it too much, and he emphasizes prophecy. And prophecy, of course, is not so much telling the future as reading the signs of the times, giving some message for the people, and that can be very meaningful. And so he prefers prophecy to tongues, and, well, if they are to be tongues, then there should be interpretation of them. And the great point is to build up the church. So, you are eager for manifestations in the spirit, try to excel in building up the church. And that is the point he's bringing out, you remember.


He said the church is like an organism with many organs, many different functions, and we all have to work together to build up the whole. And this gift of tongues has a place in it, it's a very minor place. Prophecy has a much more important place in it. And the most important place, as we saw yesterday, is love, and that is the supreme gift of the spirit, and that's the one we should all seek after. So, perhaps today we don't attach so much importance to these other gifts, but we see love as fundamental, and behind the other gifts we speak with tongues or prophesy, deep love, let it become meaningful, but without it, as Paul says, has no value at all. Ah! Today we speak with Sir Benedict Henry, known as the Patriarch of Monks in the West,


who wrote this rule which has been a guide in living the life of the Gospel for so many centuries. And today we recognize that Benedict was passing on a tradition. He was not original in any way. He inherited this tradition from the fathers, and he gave it a structure, a form, which has proved very practical and useful, and so it goes on. And it's the way of living the Gospel, and the criteria which Sir Benedict asks when anybody has come to the monastery is does he truly seek God? And we see today the monastic life, the life of a monastic man, as a way of seeking God. And today this is very relevant, a seeking God all over the world. The image of God has become very remote for many people, they've lost the idea of what God is. It's been so distorted in so many ways


and so misrepresented that the very word God is meaningless to many people. But still the reality behind the word is there, and people are seeking God. And thousands come to India every year, seeking God, and many go to different ashrams in their search. And I think the church in India has a calling to answer that call, this search for God, which means search for meaning in life, search for an ultimate personal purpose, a search for ultimate reality. And in India we've had this search for God, for truth, for reality, from the earliest times, we read every day the Upanishads, and they're searching for this ultimate truth, the truth of the spirit, the truth of God. And we inherit that calling. And in an ashram in India we inherit these two traditions, from the search for God in India, which has gone on 5,000 years,


and that search for God in Israel came to a head in Jesus and has been carried on in the church and in the monastic life. So I think we all need to share in this call. It's not limited to monks or nuns. It's the call which every person, every human being has, really, to find God, to find the ultimate meaning of their lives. And we have a responsibility to respond to that need. You see, millions are in search, and millions don't find it. You see, it's one of the tragedies today that millions of people look to the church for an answer to their need, but don't find it. The way the gospel is presented to them is often quite meaningless. And again and again you hear people, you see, people giving up going to church. They don't see any meaning in it, especially young people. And yet the truth is there. The message of the gospel is meaningful


for every human being, but it has to be presented in a way that is meaningful. And if you go on repeating the old formulas, the old ways, they just have no... that's their meaning. You see, the gospel is a living thing. It has to live and be lived and be expressed in new ways. Pope John XXIII, in a very important statement, he said that the truth of the gospel is ever the same, but the way it is presented, the way it is expressed, has to be continually renewed. And we have a responsibility today, first of all, to live it out in our own lives in a meaningful way. It's so easy to accept the sort of externals of the church and the mass of the gospel, to read the text, and to live an externally respectable life, but without any real seed of the gospel, really. And on the other hand, to rediscover its deep meaning, to see its meaning for oneself, for the church, for the world, to answer very deep meanings.


People today are in desperate need. Many have completely lost direction in life, they don't know what meaning. And they see so much chaos in the world around them, and they're very easily led to despair and maybe commit suicide. You know, the number of suicides among young people is appalling, especially in the Western world, but it's spreading everywhere. And if they don't commit suicide, they'll take to drugs, or to drink, or to sex, or to some way of answering this inner need which has not been satisfied. So the responsibility is there to answer that need for truth, for reality, for love. That is what people are seeking, and they're put off in all the wrong directions. And so the call is there, each of us, to answer that need first of all for ourselves, to find the truth for oneself. And the truth is different for every person. It's not a formula which we pass on you. There are formulas which we put you in the way, but to discover the inner meaning of a formula


and live it out, that is unique to each person. And to find the truth for yourself. And then to be able to share it with others, to recognize their need. They don't answer it, that means you do. You've got to express that truth in a way that is meaningful to them. So we're all called to search for that truth, to search for God, to search for the inner meaning of life. And the rule of St. Benedict remains a framework in which for some people that search can be made, for others it's made outside. But perhaps I should mention, we have this institution of oblates, and the idea of an oblate is one who does not live in a monastery, according to the rule, but seeks to live out the purpose of the rule, this search for God in his own or her own way of life, in a city or outside, wherever it may be. What is there for everybody? And perhaps I should mention that in Montreal, this Benedictine priory founded by Fr. John Lane,


who is one of the living centers of a new understanding of the rule of St. Benedict, how to make it meaningful to people today, and they have a community there, both of men and of women, and a great number of oblates. The oblates live around, or they may live hundreds of miles away, different parts of the world, but they're living out the same search for God in the context of the rule of St. Benedict and the context of the world in which they're living. So this is the call today, and I think we all, those of us who are living in a monastery, there's a very special call here to answer that need. People are in search, and it's not an answer which is going to be written down and passed around and seen or propagated on the television or something. It's something very personal which you have to discover yourself and then to share personally with others. So we ask this grace for ourselves and for all of us to live out this mystery, and to be true to St. Benedict in that way,


showing the way to God, to truth, to love, to the fulfillment of life. This gospel compares the gospel to the word of God which is sown in a field, and people respond to it in different ways. We needn't take only the negative way which is pronounced here. We need to think of all the positive ways in which that word can be received. And, in a sense, every soil is different, and the word has to be received in all these different soils. And today we're much more concerned in the church with how do we present the gospel to different people, to all these different soils. In the past it's generally been thought that the gospel is some simple thing and it's the same everywhere.


We preach it in Europe, in America, in Asia, in Africa. It's always the same. But today we realize that it's not so. The word is a mystery which has to be... it reveals itself in a different way to every people. And each has to receive it in its own way. There's no simple truth which you can pass on to others. There's a mystery, a divine mystery, which responds to the deepest human need and the need of every people, but it has to be presented to them in the way which responds to their need. And so the great problem today is how to present the word of God, not to present it in the way which we think is right, but the way the other person is going to discover it. And the great difference is that for hundreds of years this word of God, the gospel, has been preached in Europe. Fifteen hundred years, it hardly moved out of Europe and all the ways in which it was expressed were European.


And then in the 16th century it went to America, had a great growth in North and South America. Again it received a particular form there which has its own value. And then it went to Africa and to Asia, last of all to Asia and only to a fraction of the people of Asia. And our real problem today is how do we present that word of God not in terms of Europe or America, but in terms of Asia and Africa. They have their own... it's another soil which receives the word in a quite different way and we have to learn how to sow in those fields. And it all depends on the soil. You have to find the right soil. And so, as I say, the problem today in preaching the gospel is how to present it in a way that that person can receive it. And we're only very slowly learning it. The reason why the gospel has not taken root in Asia


is because it was presented in this Western way. We've presented it for hundreds of years now in a Western form, Western structures, Western languages, Western ways of living. And naturally the people of Asia have not responded to it. About 2% have accepted it in hundreds of years. And so the real problem is how to present that word and how to recognize the difference of the soil If the soil is not right, then the seed won't grow. And one has to recognize these differences. And so we're trying today to realize that every person, not every race, every person, receives that word of God in their own way. And we each have to receive it in our own way. It's not some fixed formula which we just learn by heart and then hand on to others. It's a divine mystery of life which is communicated to us and we have to assimilate it, to take it into our inmost being


and to allow it to take possession of us. And that is the mystery of the gospel. And when we celebrate the Eucharist, the word of God is present to us, present in the words we read, present in the responses we make, present in the bread and the wine. But again, you know, that word is present in a different way to each person. We all respond differently to it. And we all have to make our own response to discover the word of God in the scriptures, in the songs, in the way we respond, and, above all, in the history of the bread and the wine. How to discover the word of God, God himself, under those forms of bread and wine. So we're always being challenged to open our hearts to this divine mystery presented under these signs, bread and wine are our signs, that divine mystery is often in itself the word of God under those signs. But it also comes in other signs.


It comes in the signs of the Bible which we read, but it also comes day by day in our lives. The word of God comes first in the people we meet, in the work we have to do, in the response we have to make to various situations. So day by day that word is coming to us, and we're being challenged to respond to it, to discover it, to know it, to enter into our lives. So we all need to feel challenged by that. And we can respond, as the parable says, it can be rocky soil or it can be thorns and so on. There's much in us which is not able to receive that word, and we have to be open ourselves to allow the thorns and the stones and so on to be removed and the soil itself to respond to that word. So we have this challenge in our lives, and today it's a very real one. You see, the Gospel does not appeal to many people today, but it's not presented to them in the way that is meaningful.


It comes to them something that's external and unmeaning, and how to make it interior and meaningful, that is the challenge. And only when we ourselves receive it in a meaningful way, when we interiorize that word, can we present it to others. So that's the real challenge, how to take the word into our hearts and to live it, to allow it to transform us and to transform others. Questioner 2 At first sight, this Gospel is a little strange, this idea that the work is easy. I've heard this life, Christian life and spiritual life have been depicted as a scent of Mount Carmel. If you've been to the east of Mount Carmel today and seen all of the crosses, it's a scent of Mount Carmel. That's a terrible struggle of dark nights,


both on the way to struggle up to reach the height of the mountain, and all the anxiety of fighting. And still we have all these images, struggle, fighting, and cynicism, and perhaps the most significant in the New Testament is the whole problem of the law. See, the Jews were given this law in the Roses and accumulated a whole lot of restrictions of the law. Unless you kept all that law, you couldn't be saved. And that was the situation which was present in Jesus' time, with Pharisees, with good people, trying to keep the law, with all its restrictions, with all its details. And it wasn't getting them anywhere, it was keeping them bound. And also, many Christians have the idea that you're very ascetic, deny yourself of everything, and only then will you find this embrace of God which you're seeking.


And if Jesus gives the opposite impression, that he says, John the Baptist came fasting, and the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and he didn't live an ascetic life. He lived a life among people, like the marriage priest, and he had support from the women who came, who went around with him. And what he puts before us are unique and lonely thoughts, you see. He had this humility, had this total openness to the Father, his whole life was total openness to God and to the Father. And that is the condition of sanctity, this total surrender to God. And why we got tied up with all this law and all this asceticism is because we are centered on ourselves, there's a hard core of egoism in everybody, and that's what prevents you from opening your heart, and that's what makes it necessary sometimes to have asceticism


to follow the law and to undertake all these difficult things. It's this core of egoism. If you look at people and look at yourself, you see how it's behind everything, it's a hard core, people are not aware of it, and it's so hard that you can't break through it. And that's why sometimes you have to do very drastic things to get through it. Otherwise you don't want to cross the distance, and all these dark nights have ways of breaking through this ego and opening people to the simple truth of the Gospel, it's this surrender to God. Because grace for the Gospel life is a gift of God, something you've got to receive, and you can't receive it as long as you're closely around yourself. It simply creates this tremendous barrier, and how to get out of it is the problem. But it is a gift of God, and I think to realize it's a gift, more often you see people find themselves in this egoistic state


and they struggle, and then they think the struggle is the important thing, the more I do, the better I get. But it isn't, you're still in your ego, you think, I've got to do this, I've got to do that, I've got to overcome this, because all your ego is at work. And then when you get that out, you realize that you've got to let God be, you've got to let yourself be in the hands of God, allow him to take possession, and then the burden becomes easy, the yoke is light, then you discover reality. So we're all tied up in this disturbing, original serious egoism, which is being centered on itself, and breaking that egoism is the only work, the cynicism of the law, and only when that's broken are you able to surrender, that God can break it, because the ego can't break itself, you see, the more you struggle, the more you get tied up, you've got to allow this grace of God to break in and allow the God of senses to get you out of yourself,


to open up to his grace and his love. And so it's a great mystery, you see, that on one hand you have all this terrible law of religion and all religions are a great burden, you see, Jews find their religion a great burden, and many Christians find their religion a great burden, because they're so tied up with their ego, and once you get rid of your ego, religion is this freedom, it is this openness, it is this surrender, which brings peace, which brings happiness, which brings a total self-fulfillment, you see. So we all have to work on this problem of life, you see, it's the ego and the gift of God, fulfillment is always found in sheer gifts, we don't do that stuff, we don't achieve that stuff, we allow God to work in us, we allow that grace, and that is humility and meekness and loneliness, you see,


those are the gifts which enable us to receive this grace of God, and they're easy in our life, but to get to that point where we can be receptive and we can be... Like little children, the Jewish mission will come like a little child, well, a little child is not the setting, it's not keeping up with the old laws and all that, but it's open, it's fierce, and to be receptive, to see is what people give to it, and that's the condition, to be open, to be receptive, to be surrendered, to allow God to act. Then the transformation takes place. Stone asked for this grace, and I said, a lady was a good model for us all, you see, she had no ascetic life as far as we know, it's probably true for anything in particular, she lived an ordinary village life, no ordinary people, but day by day she was totally surrendered to God, the grace of God was working in her, the grace of God was always present, she was listening to his word, and so she grew in grace day by day,


and was totally fulfilled, and that is our model, you see, it's so simple. I think on this day we can ask, especially in her intercession, that we discover her grace, you see, that model that she had, so totally receptive to the Holy Spirit, and therefore transformed in her grace. This feeling of St. Paul is very personal, rather domestic, I think we should remind ourselves that the churches were very human communities, and they had this very strong bond, union with one another, which spread over Asia Minor, Greece, Rome, and Paul made these, created these communities, and they all kept in touch with one another, which he himself was joining, Timothy and others were going round, and then there was this question of connection, I directed you on the first day of every week


if you were to put something aside and store it up as he may prosper, then contribution need not be made when I come, and this problem of supporting a community continues to the present day, various methods are being devised, but the fundamental need is that sense of solidarity, the sense that you are brothers and sisters, that you share a communion with one another, and it's been very strong in the church, of course the church grows and sustains so much it becomes much more difficult, but at this stage it was extremely strong, and apparently the church of Jerusalem was rather poor, and Corinth, a rather rich city, probably it was rather rich, and so they had this very strong sense that they should support one another, and St Paul particularly was concerned, you support the church in Jerusalem, surely the Jews consider it a sort of mother church, and it's their duty to care especially for the church there,


so when I arrive I'll send those whom you'll credit by letter to carry your gift to Jerusalem, and I shall go with them, and so on. Now he descends into a lot of detail about where he's going, at Saustadius, then the winter, and so on, and there are important aspects of the date of this letter, I must say in Ephesus or Pentecost, he can date this letter and those around it and the place where it's written very definitely, and that's very important, you know, genuine historical documents of this period are very rare, and St Paul is extremely well documented, we know exactly where he was, when he wrote his letters, not all of them, but certainly the name of the body, and so it's very, very important historical evidence, you'd be surprised how rare merely historical evidence is, most religions and Christianity in very different ways, but here in the New Testament


you get very positive historic base, and of course Christianity is a historical religion, based on historic person and event, and it grows in history, it's definitely historical communities with their own particular history and their own background, so we get in the knot in this, and I'd say also it helps us to realise the human nature of these communities, you see, there were people living together and living out their faith together and concerned with one another, and he says when Timothy comes, put him at ease among you, he's doing the work of the Lord, so let no one despise him, feed him on his way, and he'll turn to me, and so on and so forth, and then he ends, as he often does, he's been dealing with these rather mundane details, and then he turns to the principle behind it, be watchful, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong, let all that you do be done in love,


so he brings it back to the very centre of it all, let all that you do be done in love, and these were really communities of love, and that has been the meaning of the church, when we begin to create communities of love, that was really the summary of the Christian gospel, and so we're all involved in that, we all need to try to live it out. As you know, the Sabbath was one of the most sacred institutions in Israel, and it was intended one day in the week people should give themselves to the service of God, to prayer, praise, love, and this one day in the week was set apart, and one of the conditions was not to do your ordinary work, so you're free from that, and then gradually in the course of time innumerable laws grew up exactly what you could do and what you could not do on the Sabbath,


how far you could walk, and so on, and one of them was that you mustn't do any manual work, and if you took ears of grain and rubbed them in your hands you were doing work, and that was profaning the Sabbath, so minute instructions like that came, and so the disciples of Jesus were doing this, and they were accused of breaking the law of the Sabbath, and Jesus did show that often you had to break these laws, that David, and they were hungry, and they would eat this bread at the presentation, bread would be offered on the altar, and normally you wouldn't eat it, but when you were hungry then of course you had the right to eat it, and then he said in the law that's for the priests in the temple to pay in the Sabbath the guilty, so all these laws are there, and they're laws of general rules, and we need general rules to guide us, but general rules are never adequate to particular situations, they've always got to be interpreted


in the light of the actual situation, and that is a great problem of religion, you see all religion has these laws, the Muslims have them at times of prayer and so on, and the Hindus have so many and the Buddhists have theirs, and we have our own laws, and all these laws are necessary, people need some guideline, some institution to give a framework to live their life, but the law is not the end, it's a means, a means to bring people to open their hearts to God, to receive the grace of God, and the whole point of the Sabbath was it should be a time when people would be open to the grace of God, to receive his light and his love, and so we're all challenged in that way, it's so easy simply to fall into a right way, and simply keep some laws, and those become the great obstacles to religion, we're all locked up in our own system of laws, the Muslims have theirs, the Hindus have theirs,


and we have ours, and we form little islands, each separated from the other, but all these laws and institutions are simply meant to help people to open their hearts to God, to the truth, to the love, to the real meaning of life, and instead of that they become an obstacle, that's why many people, they just reject religion altogether, it seems to them quite meaningless, you've got all these laws and institutions, and your religious services and so on, you go on with that, and the real meaning and purpose of them is to open the love of God and the love of your neighbour, that's the end of all religion, you see, and this becomes an obstacle to it, instead of really loving God you perform a lot of rituals, instead of really loving your neighbour you lock yourself up in a sort of narrow system of beliefs and practices, so I think we're all challenged today, you see, religion's become a great obstacle to human peace and solidarity, in India we're all divided, the Muslims and the Hindus fighting one another, and the Sikhs and the Christians,


we're all involved in it, fighting one another, keeping our own little world apart, and separating from the others, and today we're trying to learn how to relativise all these laws and institutions, they're all relative, relative to the real meaning of religion, how to love God, the truth, grace, the love, and how to love your neighbour, that's the real end. So I think we all have to examine ourselves, it's so easy to fall into this rut of simply a ritual religion, it's an evil religion which just keeps the laws and tries to do as good as far as it goes, of course, it's good to try to keep some laws, but that's not the end, it's only a means to bring you to the love of God, it's the end of all true religion, it's love, it's how to love God, to love your neighbour, to be open to the spirit of God. So we all have to ask ourselves, Jesus really came to break down this negligence, you see, of binding the Jews and preventing them from finding God, and he tried to break that down and open them,


and then we go and make another law, a system of laws and regulations and we have to find ourselves again, you see, it's a human tendency, so we all have to learn again and again, we can't get rid of the laws, we have to have laws and institutions, but you've always got to go beyond and use them as means and not as end. So we're always, as I say, challenged by this, to have a genuine religion, a religion of the spirit, a religion of love, a religion of total openness to God and our neighbour.