JULY 7, 2010: WEDNESDAY OF THE 14TH  WEEK: HOSEA 10: 1-12. MATTHEW 10:1-7

 

WHEN GOD SPOKE the first word of creation time came into existence simultaneously with matter. Indeed, as was scientifically demonstrated in 1919 for the first time, time is a function of the relations of matter in motion. We humans are so embedded within the world of time that only by making a concentrated effort can we form a concept of existence that is timeless, without any before and after. Our naturally tendency is to conceive of eternity as endless succession, as time without end. However, eternity is of a very different order than that with which we are familiar. The philosopher, Boethius, in the sixth century formulated the widely accepted definition: “eternity is the total, simultaneous and perfect possession of life without end.” Being simultaneous presence of the whole, eternal life admits of neither past nor future. The world of eternity is characterized by a transcendental order that has a more immediate relation to God than we know in this material existence. We can formulate the concept of such a world, but we remain unable to picture it to our self even in imagination. The world of eternity is not subject to the laws and features of the material universe that is so familiar to us. And yet, as the Apocalypse reveals, it bears a radical and mysterious relation to the world we know so that at the end time this world will undergo a transformation so that God himself will be the light that enlivens and rejoices our world. 

 

Saint John had arrived at the unshakeable conviction that in the person of Jesus, the Word who is the beloved Son of God, a new presence of eternal life appeared in time. In Jesus the Father is present to the world in a manner not accessible to the senses but knowable to a trusting faith. So that our Lord could claim that “He who sees me sees the Father.” This kind of seeing is possible only to faith that opens the eyes of the spirit and stimulates the develops the spiritual senses through contemplative prayer. In today’s Gospel as Jesus commissions his apostles to go forth on a mission, among the various directives he gives them is that of expelling demons. He knows by his own experience that there are many persons who are subject to demonic power and who suffer because of such harmful influence.

 

Our Lord here takes for granted that there is another world, the world of spirits that actively impinges upon this visible material world that is our temporal habitat. He is aware of possessing a power over these harmful spirits that can destroy their ability to do harm. He delegates the exercise of this power to his apostles as he sends them forth on a preaching mission. As we are told subsequently, these men returned from their mission rejoicing to find that even spirits were subject to them by virtue of this delegation. Many other passages in the Bible the existence of a world inhabited by angels as well as one where spirits are active refer to these invisible worlds that exert influences upon us and our society. The Creed that we proclaim every Sunday takes up this truth and affirms that God is the creator of invisible as well as of visible things.

 

In our present technological and scientific culture the idea of spirits, whether demons or angels, has come to seem to many to be a remnant of a less sophisticated time, and considered at best a superstition. But, as if nature itself has reacted in protest to the reductionist mindset of the materialists, some of the best minds in science, interpreting the observed behavior of matter at the sub-atomic level, take seriously the view that there are other worlds that are acting upon our universe. We cannot access them directly by observation but can conclude to their existence by reflecting upon the causes of certain behaviors of quantum particles. Of course, these implicate realities, as the physicist David Bohm named them, are not the worlds of spirits that Jesus tells his followers to confront. But the fact is that just when the denial of spiritual reality becomes dominant in large segments of our society today, the human mind devises an analogous substitute through an intense effort to understand our material universe. For, as the Catholic tradition has always maintained, the human spirit is so constituted that it transcends the material universe. We are not defined solely by matter, but rather we exist in relation to another world, the world where, as the Apocalypse puts it, God is the “Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.” The new city that is to descend from heaven and gives a new kind of life to all things; “The glory of God is its light and its lamp is the Lamb.”

 

We are not to wait passively until this comes about for even now, as John maintains in his Gospel, this transformation is at work with us who enter into communion with the God of glory through welcoming his Spirit whom we called upon at this Eucharist. It is the living and glorified Christ present at this altar who gives us the firm hope that even now we are citizens of the eternal Kingdom of God through the merits of Jesus, our Lord and Savior. &


Abbot John Eudes Bamberger

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