08 November 2006

Neo? Buddha? Or that Guy from NPR?

Anniversary of Deceased Brothers and Sisters of the Order of Preachers
Revelation 21.1-7; John 17.15-21, 24-26
Fr. Philip N. Powell, OP
St. Albert the Great Priory, Irving, TX

Before going with his disciples to the Garden where he is betrayed, Jesus asks his Father to consecrate his disciples, his friends and students, in the truth, “Consecrate them by means of the truth. Your Word is truth.” What is Jesus asking his Father to do, precisely?

Let’s look at what he is not asking his Father to do. First, he is not asking his Father to deposit into the minds of the disciples a set body of knowledge or a cache of information. He is not, in other words, asking the Father to download the divine equivalent of an doctrinal encyclopedia into the brains of the disciples. Peter, John, James, Andrew, and the rest aren’t Matrix characters waiting for the operator to punch up a Dogma Program and hit them with Truth 3.0. Nor is Jesus asking his Father to flood their hearts with luminous warmth, with the fragrant aroma of pure enlightenment and self-knowledge, to bestow on them the bright intellectual clarity of an ascended Master. The disciples aren’t gurus to be illuminated; they aren’t maharishis to be dissolved into cosmic Oneness, to be sprinkled like stardust on a solar wind. Finally, Jesus is not asking his Father to educate his friends to be savvy cultural critics, bored and boring observers of the state of human society, or distant “readers” of intellectual trends, shifts in political power, and swings in the populist mood. The disciples are not marketing savants or fashion mavens or trendsetting celebrities.

So, if Jesus is not asking the Father to set his disciples up as information caches, bodhisattvas, or pop-cultural ciphers, what is he asking? He is asking his Father to make them Christs; to make them into sacrificial servants of the Church; to set them aside for the consuming work of teaching and preaching as Jesus himself taught and preached. Jesus is praying for nothing less than the radical transformation of his students into the embodied Word, walking, breathing, living—flesh and bone—incarnations of the Word.

Jesus says to his Father, “Your word is truth. As you have sent me, so I have sent them into the world…” In just the same way that God sent His Son into the world for our salvation…in just that way…Jesus sends his disciples into the world to preach the Word and they send us into the world to preach the Word and we send…who is it that we send to preach? “I do not pray for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their word, that all may be one as you, Father, are in me, and I in you…” Jesus prays for those who will hear his Word from you, from me, from us as a family, as an institution. He is not praying for institutional unity or uniformity, he is praying for one heart and mind among us. A single Word, a single teaching, one preaching, one witness to Christ alone.

How do we preach, teach, live, breath, eat, drink the Word, the Truth? Are we, are you “set aside” in the Word of Truth that is Jesus Christ? In other words, do you see and hear and taste and feel the world through the ancient faith, through the histories of our mothers and fathers in Christ, through that which has been handed on to us as definitive of us, as telling of who and what we are as Catholics, as witnesses, as preachers, as Christs?

Jesus revealed his Father’s name to the disciples so that the Father’s love for Jesus may live in his disciples. He continues to reveal the Father’s name so that His love for Christ may live in us. If we will be consecrated in the Truth—set aside in the Word—we will do now what Christ did then so that all, everyone and anyone, will know what Christ continues to do: he loves us into eternal life.

Who will you send today as a disciple? Who will you consecrate in truth?

No comments:

Post a Comment