What is it in our human nature that persistently wants to turn grace into law, inclusion to exclusion, plenitude into penury? We are the great reductionists!
The Gospel this week speaks of consolation for the disciples who are troubled that Jesus, is speaking about leaving them. They are not sure their hearts can bear it and that why he quiets their troubled spirits by speaking of a Father’s house where there is abundant accommodation. In contrast to the birth of Jesus, the Father’s inn will never be too full. This is also far more than a guesthouse we are speaking of. The Father’s house is home. It is the place the Prodigal son eventually headed for when he came to himself. It is the place you and I long to return to when we are homeless and heartsore.
What is more, Jesus the shepherd, the gate from last week’s gospel, is going to make sure that everything is ready “back home” where the Father is, and when he has turned back the covers, and put the chocolate on the pillow, checked and refreshed the flowers on the nightstand and aired the room, he will come and take us to be there.
“You also know where I am going”. Is it possible that Jesus was implying,… “Because you are already there. When we began this adventure I told you that the Divine Doman (Kingdom of the heavens) is at hand, close and even within you. I am not speaking about travel I am talking about transformation. This is not about destinations it is about discovering you are already at home with God.” John Kabat Zinn titles his book, “Wherever you go. there you are”
Incredulous, over-thinking Thomas, can’t get beyond the concrete and so asks for a map. “Just give me the co-ordinates to that I can plug them into the old GPS and let the device take me there.” Jesus says to Thomas, “ I am the GPS, the map, the truth and the life. Nothing else is going to get you there if you don’t get me. (If you don’t understand me)” Surely if the resurrection appearances teach anything they demonstrate that in the Divine domain, geographic locations are irrelevant? Locked doors are of no consequence, Jesus appears and disappears at will. He is in Jerusalem, Emmaus, Galilee; seemingly all at once.
Philip begins to understand that there is nowhere to go but still wants a sign. “Show us the Father and we will be satisfied” Once again, may I speculate some unrecorded sub-text? “No Philip you won’t be satisfied. If you are still looking for God in signs and wonders and can’t see the Divine in this moment of resurrection encounter, then nothing will reveal God to you and nothing will satisfy you. The divine domain, is here Phillip, in me. Can you not see the non-dual unity and union of everything in me. Philip there is no division in me. I am one with “I am”, and so you can be. Just look at what has happened the works of restoration and latterly of resurrection!”
This has to be one of the most beautiful non-dual, inclusive passages of teaching by Jesus. All the divisions are healed in Jesus. There is unity and accommodation for all. There is no need to go anywhere, for Jesus has come to us. There is no need to search any further for it right here. Just lay down., you are home already.[Living Liturgy 2014]
How tragic then, that this passage has become the war-cry of exclusivist and triumphalist Christian dogma that uses the very words of the all including Jesus as a sword of separatist isolation from others.
As Jesus has pointed out in this passage if we don’t see the unity in all this, we really don’t get it. “How can you say, show us the Father?”
Perhaps the best rejoinder to those who use the words of Jesus in this passage to be judgemental and exclusive, comes from that master of the one-liner and the succinct, snappy answer, Richard Rohr.
When Richard has spoken inclusively, and people throw at him, “But Jesus said ‘I am the way, the truth and the life…NO ONE…” Richard replies in his lovely gentle manner, “When Jesus said ‘I am the way the truth and the life’, it means that you are NOT” A sobering reminder if you get it, that none of this is our business. This is mystery of the highest order and our best response is awe and wonder, rather than bigotry and belligerence. [Center For Contemplative Action]
I wonder if this place has room service?