In this gospel passage, we read of Jesus gently chiding his disciples who want to see God. He tells them that when they know him, when they understand what he is about, then they will see the Divine. This clearly is not very satisfying for the disciples at all. In the Gospel of Thomas also, Jesus has these interchanges with them.
Jesus saw infants being suckled. He said to his disciples: “These little ones being suckled are like those who enter the kingdom.”
They said to him: “Then will we enter the kingdom as little ones?”
Jesus said to them: “When you make the two into one, and when you make the inside like the outside and the outside like the inside and the above like the below; that is, to make the male and the female into a single one, so that the male will not be male and the female will not be female — then you will enter the kingdom.”
It would seem that the non-canonical gospels are even more obtuse, but wait. What is going on here? Jesus seems to be teaching that it is when we separate things with our mind and our literalistic sense, that we are confused. It is when we are able to perceive interconnectedness, we learn that all things are one; and in that experience, all things make sense and are coherent. That experience of oneness is the experience of the Divine. Perhaps it is even how the Divine experiences reality, so when we open ourselves to this, we taste eternal life.
Jesus says elsewhere that there is no marrying in heaven. Is that because heaven is existence that is aware but not separated by perceptual boundaries? Animals often show this integrated awareness. I’m sure you have been alarmed by an animal companion staring intently at something invisible to you.
Most of you have experienced the stunning beauty of nature that makes you forget yourself totally as you stand in awe. I also often experience it as someone dies and their spirit pulls everyone together in one last moment of shared grief. In that moment, the sense of connection binds that pain in and of the moment. These moments of love, beauty or suffering are gifts that break through our normal isolation and aloneness.
It is easy in our busy, working time to forget these sacred moments, but Jesus cautions that we find God as we lose ourselves in love, in his great compassion, in acts of solidarity, in appreciation of life.
Linda Hogan writes in “The Great Without” : The world inside the mind is lovely sometimes, and large.Its existence is why a person can recall the mist of morning clouds on a hill . . . . or the black skies of night that the Luiseno call their spirit, acknowledging that the soul of the world is great within the human soul. . . (But) the inward may have been all along the wrong direction to seek. A person seems so little and small, and without is the river, the mountain, the forest of fern and tree, the desert with its lizards, the glacial meltings and freezings and movements of life. The cure for soul loss is in the mist of morning, the grass that grew a little through the night, the first warmth of sunlight, the waking human in a world infused with intelligence and spirit.
God’s Spirit is calling us to relinquish our small dreams, our ragged and unhelpful boundaries and open ourselves to freedom that is another way to experience the compassion of being all in the One as the One abides within us all. Jesus shows us how being connected in body to the earth and in spirit to the divine, integrates a human, brings worlds to gather, makes us human. Being the nexus of immanence and transcendence is both the human task and our destiny.