Wednesday 13 February, 2019 – Intention arises in the heart

Genesis recounts the Creation.  A movement of division and diversity.  From one whole, comes many parts. Heaven and earth, light and darkness, day and night, evening and morning, waters above heaven and waters below, earth and seas, diverse vegetation, Sun and Moon with the stars.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was a formless void, there was darkness over the deep, and God’s spirit hovered over the water.
God said, ‘Let there be light’, and there was light. God saw that light was good, and God divided light from darkness. God called light ‘day’, and darkness he called ‘night.’ Evening came and morning came: the first day.
God said, ‘Let there be a vault in the waters to divide the waters in two.’ And so it was. God made the vault, and it divided the waters above the vault from the waters under the vault. God called the vault ‘heaven.’ Evening came and morning came: the second day.
God said, ‘Let the waters under heaven come together into a single mass, and let dry land appear.’ And so it was. God called the dry land ‘earth’ and the mass of waters ‘seas’, and God saw that it was good.
God said, ‘Let the earth produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants, and fruit trees bearing fruit with their seed inside, on the earth.’ And so it was. The earth produced vegetation: plants bearing seed in their several kinds, and trees bearing fruit with their seed inside in their several kinds. God saw that it was good. Evening came and morning came: the third day.
God said, ‘Let there be lights in the vault of heaven to divide day from night, and let them indicate festivals, days and years. Let them be lights in the vault of heaven to shine on the earth.’ And so it was. God made the two great lights: the greater light to govern the day, the smaller light to govern the night, and the stars. God set them in the vault of heaven to shine on the earth, to govern the day and the night and to divide light from darkness. God saw that it was good. Evening came and morning came: the fourth day.

Genesis 1:1-19

The movement of the Gospel brings together.  Several times in Mark we hear ‘they crossed over’.  Crossing over can mean leaving something behind, in order to be with Jesus. Crossing over bridges two places.  It invites us to bring to him what is sick in us. To bring the comfortable stance of disconnection that we settle for and compromise ourselves by. To bring the separation within ourselves, between one another and from God, and risk being out in the open where we will be touched by the healing fringe of his cloak that makes us whole.

Having made the crossing, Jesus and his disciples came to land at Gennesaret and tied up. No sooner had they stepped out of the boat than people recognised him, and started hurrying all through the countryside and brought the sick on stretchers to wherever they heard he was. And wherever he went, to village, or town, or farm, they laid down the sick in the open spaces, begging him to let them touch even the fringe of his cloak. And all those who touched him were cured.

Mark 6:53-56

Psalm 103 celebrates,

“How many are your works, O Lord!  In wisdom you have made them all.  The earth is full of your riches.  Bless the Lord, my soul!” 

From the wholeness of God all things flow.  In the person of Jesus all things are reconciled into One.  Lord, reveal yourself to us today when we notice these movements of diversity and wholeness within us and our world.

I am reminded of a story of a man who had gone to the Golden Gate Bridge, in San Francisco, California to jump the sixty-seven metres to the water, to end his life.  A passing police officer saw this.  He ran to the man and took hold of his leg just as the man was jumping.  The police officer almost went over with the man, but was stopped from falling by others.  The police officer was hailed a hero for risking his life.  When reporters asked why risked his life for a person who wanted to die, he said, “if I had let him die, a part of me would have died with him.”

We are all part of one another.  Our religion teaches us that we are a communion.  In Christ Jesus we are all One.  There are moments in life we forget this truth, but even though we forget, the truth always remains – we are all One.  We feel separated at times, but the truth is we are never separated.  Separation is an illusion that convinces us we are autonomous, that we are independent and don’t need others, that we are not important, not worthy in the world, that we are unloved, that life is meaningless.  The Church, when it lives in awareness of this truth, is a living witness to our essential unity in God.

Genesis reflects this in the passage; “The Lord God built the rib he had taken from the man into a woman, and brought her to the man. The man exclaimed: ‘This at last is bone from my bones, and flesh from my flesh!”  The Syrophoenician woman of the Gospel, claims her daughter also has a place at the table of God’s grace, even if it is to get the scraps.  Let us meditate then on this truth that we are all connected to one another in God.  We all have a place.  What we do to another, we also do to ourselves.

Fruitfulness is the sign of God’s presence.  When the fruit is rotting, or the tree has no real life in it, we know it is time to act to help the tree come to life again.  Sometimes its in the wrong soil.  Sometimes it is not fed the right fertilizer, or given enough water, or is watered too much by an over-zealous gardener.  We know when we are listening to the Spirit of God.  Our souls come alive.  We are filled with a joy that moves from our hearts, to our face, and to the face of others.  Pope Francis reminded us that there is no place for unhappy Christians. 

The fruit of God celebrated in the Genesis story is what leads God to say again and again, “it is good”.  This is the nature of the Sabbath day of rest.  A time of recognising the fruit of all that work, is the joy of having created it.  God doesn’t rest because he is tired.  God rests because he has completed; all is made holy, all is made whole.  God is happy with what is completed.

We have to be careful when following prescriptions and regulations, that we do not crush the Spirit of life.  This was the complaint of Jesus regarding the Pharisees.  No, like Jesus we have to let all of these things serve the Spirit of life.  If they are of God, God sees them as good and they bring wholeness and completion.  They will bring to the lives of others around us a smile, a joy, a sense that all is well in the garden.  Let us today be agents of this joyful blessing.  For God blessed the man and woman and said to them, ‘Be fruitful’, and God saw all he had made, and indeed it was VERY good.

The hesycast prayer of the early church, followed the Gospel injunction “When you pray, go into your secret room and when you have shut the door pray to your Father.”  The pathway into that secret room is the observation of the breath.  A simple awareness of the movement of the breath.  In and out of the body.  In Genesis we read, “Then he breathed into his nostrils a breath of life, and thus man became a living being.”  Again, in John we hear of the same creative Spirit being breathed on the Disciples in the upper room.  They were afraid and Jesus cam among them and said, “Peace be with you and he breathed on them and they received the Holy Spirit.”

As we enter our day let us follow our breath into the secret room.  Let us watch the movement of the Holy Spirit bringing light to what motivates our hearts.  What Jesus in the Gospel says about, ‘It is what comes out of a person that makes them unclean. For it is from within, from in people’s hearts, that evil intentions emerge.’

Jesus called the people to him and said, ‘Listen to me, all of you, and understand. Nothing that goes into a man from outside can make him unclean; it is the things that come out of a man that make him unclean. If anyone has ears to hear, let him listen to this.’
When he had gone back into the house, away from the crowd, his disciples questioned him about the parable. He said to them, ‘Do you not understand either? Can you not see that whatever goes into a man from outside cannot make him unclean, because it does not go into his heart but through his stomach and passes out into the sewer?’ (Thus he pronounced all foods clean.) And he went on, ‘It is what comes out of a man that makes him unclean. For it is from within, from men’s hearts, that evil intentions emerge: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, malice, deceit, indecency, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things come from within and make a man unclean.’

Gospel Mark 7:14-23

May the breath of God, breath deeply in us, so that we may again hear the words, “and God saw what he had created and indeed it was very good.

The Lord God fashioned man out of dust. At the time when the Lord God made earth and heaven there was as yet no wild bush on the earth nor had any wild plant yet sprung up, for the Lord God had not sent rain on the earth, nor was there any man to till the soil. However, a flood was rising from the earth and watering all the surface of the soil. The Lord God fashioned man of dust from the soil. Then he breathed into his nostrils a breath of life, and thus man became a living being.
The Lord God planted a garden in Eden which is in the east, and there he put the man he had fashioned. The Lord God caused to spring up from the soil every kind of tree, enticing to look at and good to eat, with the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the middle of the garden. The Lord God took the man and settled him in the garden of Eden to cultivate and take care of it. Then the Lord God gave the man this admonition, ‘You may eat indeed of all the trees in the garden. Nevertheless of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you are not to eat, for on the day you eat of it you shall most surely die.’

Genesis 2:4-9,15-17

I have been speaking this week about living mindfully.

Monday, I reflected on Presence.  The awareness of both the Whole and the Parts, on the presence of God in both unity and diversity.  Not separation or dualism

Tuesday, we live in wholeness and completion because that is how God made the world.  We only need to celebrate the wholeness and completion of each moment.

Wednesday, Observation of the breath.  The two stories of breath in the scriptures, the breath of God breathing over the chaos and bringing order at creation, and Jesus breathing over the disciples in the upper room when they were afraid of the Jews, and bringing them peace and they received the Holy Spirit, bringing light and insight to our hearts and minds.

Thursday, Communion.  We are not separate but one reality.  All are part of the One.  What we do to others we do to self.  The whole of creation is one interplay of reality.  Not separate worlds.

Today, the fall of humanity into sin is the story of human inability to listen and attend to God, because of attachment to all these illusions – the longing to be something more than one is.  Rather than a simple acceptance of the present reality of my life, I wake each day wanting to be something more than, rather than accepting what is.  In the Gospel the one who comes unable to hear or speak, the deaf and dumb man, has his tongue loosened and his ears unstopped and as a result cannot be silenced. His joy at the reality of his life, bubbles over.