You Will See Greater Things Than These

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Nathaniel replied: “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus answered: “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree?  You will see greater things than these?”

John 1: 49-50

What is necessary to become and to be a disciple of Jesus?  One requisite quality is the humility of Nathaniel, “one in whom there is no deceit” (John 1: 47). Only one who knows that she does not know and realizes her need to be taught can receive the wisdom and begin to know where Wisdom is to be found.

One can imagine that humble and good person that he is, Nathaniel is, nonetheless ,taken aback at Jesus’ response to his declaration of faith. Nathaniel so readily asserts that Jesus is the longed for Messiah, and Jesus, in response, tells him that this day Nathaniel is encountering One who is far beyond any political or religious notion or expectation that he may have. As continually emerges throughout John’s gospel, Jesus is not only a model and a savior, He is our very life.

Yesterday in a wonderful blog entitled Contemplative in the Mud, I read the following from St. Elizabeth of the Trinity:

That is what He wants to do in you: at every moment, He wants you to go out of yourself, to leave all preoccupations, in order to withdraw into the solitude He has chosen for Himself in the depths of your heart. He is always there, even though you don’t feel it; He is waiting for you.

Elizabeth says we must go out of ourselves in order to withdraw to that place where Jesus lives in us. The external self will always be making a place for Jesus and God in the life that we have created, even an exalted place, like attempting to make him the savior and messiah of our lives. But we are called to abandon that self, any notions that we have of who we are and who God is, in order to know the truth of Jesus, who is our life.

This morning, as pretty much every morning, I awoke filled with the expectations and anxiety of the day before me. At the center of each of those hopes and fears is myself, and my first thoughts, and even prayer, is that God help me to realize those plans and to cope with those misgivings. This is, perhaps, a good “first prayer,” a guileless opening of my self-centered life to God. True humility, however, would call me to let myself be brought up short by the events of my day, as Nathaniel is in his dialogue with Jesus, and pulled by love, recognizable and unrecognizable, into my real life in Him, where He is always waiting for me.

God has created each person’s soul as a living mirror, on which he has impressed the image of his nature. In this way he lives imaged forth in us and we in him, for our created life is one, without intermediary, with this image and life which we have eternally in God. That life which we have in God is one in God, without intermediary, for it lives in the Father with the unbegotten Son and is begotten with the Son from the Father, flowing forth from them both with the Holy Spirit. We thus live eternally in God and he in us, for our created being lives in our eternal image, which we have in the Son of God. This eternal image is one with God’s wisdom and lives in our created being.

For this reason the eternal birth is always being renewed, and the flowing forth of the Holy Spirit into the emptiness of our soul is always occurring without interruption, for God has known, loved, called, and chosen us from all eternity. If we resolve to know, love, and choose him in return, then we are holy, blessed, and chosen from all eternity. Our heavenly Father will then reveal his divine resplendence in the topmost part of our soul, for we are his kingdom, in which he lives and reigns. Just as the sun in the heavens pervades and enlightens all the world with its rays and makes it fruitful, so too does God’s resplendence as it reigns in the topmost part of our mind, for upon all our powers it sheds its bright, brilliant rays, namely, its divine gifts: knowledge, wisdom, clear understanding, and a rational, discerning insight into all the virtues. It is in this way that the kingdom of God in our soul is adorned.

Jan van Ruusbroec, The Mirror of Eternal Blessedness, III, B

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