Jesus seemed to see God's presence everywhere.
He looked at some peasant fishermen, hard at their labor, cleaning equipment. Jesus saw God's presence in them and said, "Come! Follow me." He saw a peasant woman sweeping her cottage to find a lost coin, and he saw the Kingdom of God in her. He saw God's presence in children, and told his friends to be like them. Jesus saw the reign of God throughout nature, as he spoke of the trust of birds and flowers, the growth of seeds and plants, the pruning of fig trees and vineyards, the promise of a mustard seed, and the wonders of the divine presence in the desert, the lake and the river.
Jesus saw God's presence also in the unexpected person or place. His model for neighborliness was a kind Samaritan, a controversial illustration in a culture that hated those Samaritan heretics. He saw God's presence in an officer of the occupying Roman army; Jesus befriended him and said the pagan officer had more faith than anyone he knew in Israel. Jesus saw the presence of God in a Canaanite mother, in an insane man living among the tombs, in a child believed to be possessed of demons, in an impertinent woman who imposed herself uninvited upon a formal dinner and washed his feet with her hair -- and Jesus was compassionate toward all of them. Jesus was especially compassionate toward anyone who suffered -- lepers, the hungry, the poor, the sick, the widowed and orphan. He saw God in all of them, and he loved them.
Here's the thing. Jesus experienced no separation between himself and God. Jesus experienced no separation between himself and others. Jesus said it is all one: "I am in my Father, and you and me, and I in you." (John 14:20) Jesus prayed for his disciples that "they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may be completely one." (John 20:22) He called his disciples to behold a transformed life of equality and inclusivity where tax collectors, sinners, women, children, lawyers, housewives and rabbis are one, united in compassion, justice and peace.
On Easter Sunday, we told the story from John's Gospel when Mary Magdalene was grieving at the tomb. A man she believed to be the gardener spoke to her, and she asked him if he knew about the body missing from the tomb. Then the gardener called her by name, and she realized. It is Jesus!
Later that evening, some disciples on the road to Emmaus were talking together about the day's events, when a stranger joined the conversation. They listened as the stranger suggested a new way to think about old familiar things in the Scriptures. He was about to leave when they invited him to dinner. At dinner, the stranger took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then they realized the stranger was Jesus.
Some weeks later, the apostles were back at their work as fishermen. They had labored all night and caught nothing. Some know-it-all standing on the beach shouted advice to them. "Throw the net again!" As tired as they were they followed the stranger's advice, and the net filled with an abundant catch. One of the disciples suddenly realized, "It is the Lord!"
In the resurrection, the spirit of Jesus expanded universally. And just like Jesus saw God's presence everywhere, now his disciples can see Jesus everywhere, including even evil things like the crucifixion of an innocent man.
Wake up and see! Look! God is everywhere! The Divine is in you and in me and in everyone in all creation. We are all one. Can you see the kingdom of God among us and within us?
Look! The gardener putting his seeds in the newly warming earth, and the Delta farmer on his tractor. A woman sweeping her kitchen. A child running in Wilson Park. A hospice nurse tending to a dying man. A junkie getting a hit to kill the pain. Laborers cleaning their equipment after a hard night in the chicken plant. An accountant finishing tax returns before midnight. A man on death row waking for his last day. The Dalai Lama waking at 3 a.m. to meditate for five hours. A faithful Muslim chanting on his prayer rug. An Episcopalian reading Morning Prayer.
God's living spirit is in everyone and everything that lives. Resurrection makes us whole. We are all one.
Commentary on 05/02/2017
Print Headline: No hint of separation