The Resurrection, means that Jesus has been swept up out of the world of space and time in which he’d lived before, not to leave us alone, but to be closer to us than ever before, and as he promised ‘even to the end of time.’ Before the Resurrection Jesus was limited by the physical body into which he had freely chosen to enter. His choice meant that he could only be in one place at a time, so meeting him would have been as difficult as meeting any major celebrity in our time. But that’s all changed now, because the same otherworldly power that raised him out of this world on the first Easter day enabled him to re-enter it on every day. So now he can enter into us, as he promised, so that he can make his home in us and we can make our home in him. In the words of St Augustine this means that – ‘He can be closer to us than we are to ourselves’. All this can be possible, not in some distant pipe dream, but here and now. That’s why de Caussade said that ‘The present moment contains far more than we have the capacity to receive, for it is full of infinite treasures’.
What happened at his Resurrection was that the Jesus who was once limited by the space and time world in which he had chosen to enter, was limited no more. Now his glorified human being continually radiates like the sun, that the early Christians used to symbolize his ever loving presence. He radiates, not so much with light, but with love, but unlike the sun that only shone in the day, his love radiates both day and night, for there is no time when his love cannot be received by those who believe in him. That’s why the first Christians would rise at midnight when, it was believed, that Jesus rose from the dead, to meditate on his Resurrection, on what it meant for them then, and what it would mean for them in the forthcoming day. What the risen Christ and his love had meant for them, the love of his Father had meant to Jesus throughout his life on earth.
That’s why every moment of every day was the moment when he opened himself to receive God’s love in his relentless daily prayer, and in the way in which he served those for whom his Father had sent him. There was no moment in which he was not open to receive the love of his Father. It was therefore in imitation of him, that the first Christians, tried to do likewise. This enabled them to ensure that every moment of their day would be a moment to receive his love. Then this love would enable them to be drawn up into his continual and abiding presence, so that in with and through him they would give glory to their Father in heaven, as he did. What they would then receive from God in return would enable them to experience something of that glory for themselves, and then show something of that glory to the world, as it infiltrated and shone through everything that they said and did, as pure unadulterated goodness.
The existential philosopher Martin Buber tells the story of the carpenter from Lublin in Poland who had a dream in which he saw a vast treasure reserved for him alone. After years travelling the world to find it, he returned home at the end of his life to find that the treasure had been there all the time beneath the hearth, where he had warmed himself before the fire each evening. Like him we can spend a lifetime searching elsewhere for what is here where we are now, wherever that might be – in this present moment. The love, for which we were created and which Christ came to impart, can only be received here and now in the present moment, and at no other place than where we are now. Now is the moment to harness all the time and all the effort that could be wasted searching elsewhere to abandon ourselves without reserve to the One, who first promised, and then sent, the love that can makes all things new, beginning with ourselves.
The outpouring of God’s love through Jesus did not just happen in the past, two thousand years ago, it is happening continually, but we can only receive and experience it here and now in the present moment. We can receive it now, because the baptism that once symbolised our personal reception of the Holy Spirit, is not just an event that once took place in the past, any more than the events that happened on the first Pentecost day. They both symbolised that the very personal and infinite love of God, is at this moment and at every moment being transmitted to us.
In St John’s account of Christ’s death, the passage that told of the water pouring from the side of Jesus was the key moment in his narrative. Once glorified he could immediately send the Holy Spirit, who he had promise to send at the Last Supper. The outpouring of this mystical life and love had long since been likened to an unprecedented effusion of living water, by both the Prophets in the Old Testament and by Jesus himself. St John had actually been there when Jesus had first foretold what he saw for himself, the moment his side had been pierced by the centurion’s lance.
Not long before his life came to an abrupt and agonising end, Jesus had taken his disciples with him to celebrate the feast of the Tabernacles in Jerusalem. On the final day, Jesus and his disciples were gathered at the pool of Siloam outside the city gate for a key moment in the ritual. A priest walked from the temple with a golden bowl full of water. Then, while it was being poured out into the pool in memory of the rock struck by Moses, a prophecy was read out. It promised a massive outpouring of the Holy Spirit when the Messiah would come. This was the moment when Jesus chose to cry out in a loud voice: ‘If any man is thirsty let him come to me. Let the man who believes in me come and drink’. St John who witnessed the whole event said, -‘He was speaking of the Spirit, who those who believed in him, were to receive; for the Spirit had not yet been sent, because Jesus had not yet been glorified.’ (John 7:37-39).
Little did St John know at the time that he would be there to see this outpouring with his own eyes, nor the terrible circumstances that would precede it? So that there could be no doubt, he emphasises this moment in the Passion narrative more than any other. However, in the so called ‘real time’ in which St John and the other apostles lived, they had to wait until after the Ascension for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit to be poured out on them in the ‘Upper Room’, on the first Pentecost day.
Now, through Jesus, the whole of humanity could have access to the infinite love of God to the end of time. It was this love that was destined to bring about a whole new world order that Jesus had first called the Kingdom. It was a Kingdom of love. However, nowhere in the Gospels did Jesus say that the Kingdom had come, but only that it was coming. It finally came when, in the immediate aftermath of the Ascension, the infinite loving of the Father was sent out. It was sent out through Jesus, so that after the Apostles, everyone else could receive it too, if they had the inner receptivity of heart and mind that many thousands did on that first Pentecost day.
This could never have happened before, even the greatest of the patriarchs, prophets and priests in the Old Testament, never received what was open to the humblest human beings, thanks to the transformed and transfigured human nature of Jesus. That’s why Jesus said that “No man born of a woman was greater than John the Baptist, but even the humblest in the kingdom was greater than he.” (Luke 7:28)
If that’s not good news what is? Nor do we have to go anywhere else than where we are now, to turn to receive it. The only real journey that matters begins, thanks to the continual outpouring of God’s love that was unleashed on the first Pentecost day. It begins from where we are now, by continually turning to receive this love in all that we say and do each day, here and now in the ‘sacrament of the present moment’ where, for those with eyes to see, time touches eternity.
First published on Catholic Stand