“Understand me then as the slaying of a Word, wound of a Word, hanging of a Word, suffering of a Word, fastening of a Word, death of a Word, resurrection of a Word, and defining this Word, I mean every man!” – The Acts of John.
In the story of Jesus in the canonical gospels, he returns to life but not as he once was- illuminating something truly immanent and transcendent.
So too are we reborn through our experience of the Divine- yet we are not as we once were.
The reading from the Acts of John identifies a central interpretation of the Holy Week story in Gnostic Christianity- that it is a mirror for our own paths and lives. Indeed, in central portion of our liturgy, the bread and the wine are shown to those present with the words – “I am a lamp to those that see me, but I am a mirror to those that understand me” which are also based on the Acts of John.
We do not enter, reach or journey to a new landscape, but rather see that which has always been here through new eyes, this is the true voyage of discovery as it has been said.
The promised land is not a place you can travel to, because you never left it in the first place.
The Magdalene encounters and sees the Risen Logos, not as Christ, but as the gardener- something I’ve always seen as a subtle reference to the scriptural character of Adam, the first man. Paradise returns, and the Kingdom of Heaven is made manifest and yet everything looks and appears the same.
But It is only when Jesus speaks that the Magdalene recognizes her teacher.
So it is, with the voice of the Divine- which has always been present- once a low murmur against the hum of electronics, shifting gears, and the popping of cash registers. Existing not in a new world but in a new understanding, we can hear that voice in every passing car, click of pebble on stone, rush of wind in trees, and like the end result of Jesus appearing as the stranger to the disciples on the road to Emmaus, we can hear and see it in person of our sisters and brothers, stranger and friend alike, should we but listen and see things as they are, and not as we wish them to be.
A world where life itself becomes as the Eucharist in which one thing is seen and another understood, compelling us with the imperative to “Be what you see and receive what you are”.
“Do not cling to me for I have not yet ascended to the Father” says Jesus to the Magdalene, and transcending the images that we place over and in the way of the Sacred Flame and on each other, those images through which we create separation and shadow, we can become that voice to our fellow human beings.
Like Jesus’ instruction to the Magdalene, we can go forth and boldly proclaim the Resurrection, our Resurrection, not with evangelical zeal or the objectification of our fellow human beings as objects to be saved but with the example of our own lives.
+ IOHANNES IV
Sovereign Pontiff and Patriarch