What Do You Need? A Personalized Invitation?

Jesus said, "A man was having a dinner party. When he had prepared the dinner, he sent his servant to invite the guests. The servant went to the first and said her, 'My master invites you.' She said, 'Some business owners owe me some money; I meet with them tonight. I have to go and handle things. Please excuse me from dinner.' The servant went to another and said him, 'My master has invited you.' The man said to the servant, 'I just purchased a house, and I have also been called away for the day. I do not have time.' The servant went to another and said to that one, 'My master invites you.' That one said to the servant, 'My friend is getting married, and I have to arrange the banquet. I won't be able to come. Please excuse me from dinner.' The servant went to another and said to that one, 'My master invites you.' He said to the servant, 'I have bought an estate, and I am on my way to collect rent. I will not be able to come. Please excuse me.'
The servant returned and said to his master, 'Everyone whom you invited to dinner have asked to be excused.' The master said to his servant, 'Go out on the streets and bring back whomever you find to have dinner.'
Buyers and merchants won't enter the places of my Father."
Gospel of Thomas 64

Jesus in this saying is laying out a great challenge.  The call to the spiritual life is issued to all people.  Those who are wrapped up in the world and its ways, have no time to sit.  They have no time for meditation, prayer, and the renewing of their mind that they may know God and self.  According to Jesus the spiritual life is not for the half-hearted or double minded.  It requires a real commitment.  At the beginning of the Gospel of Thomas, Jesus gives steps or stages of spiritual growth.  Seeking, Finding, Being Troubled, Amazed, and  Resting are all part of the process of the spiritual journey.  For me, I had lost my faith in traditional Christianity.  First I was disfellowshipped from my fundamentalist church.  Over the next few years I went through the process to become a Roman Catholic.  Years after that I become a monk.  But it was that time in the monastery where realization came, that I was different.  I could not just believe because the church said so.  A powerful experience helped me make the decision to leave.  However leaving the monastery and the traditional faith did not fill the gap where my traditional spirituality formerly resided.  I looked at various religions...but truth was none of them was home.  I had sought and found in my first religious experiences as a teenager....but as I matured into greater knowledge of God I was troubled.  I had to let go...and this letting go of religion was a very long inner purification.  Then I discovered the Gospel of Thomas and found exactly what I was looking for....It was through practicing what this text taught that I was amazed and at rest.  I could call myself a Christian, a Thomasine without clinging too tightly to these titles as they are not the essence of what I practice but only mediocre descriptors.  The spiritual life is like that...it may lead you through valleys.  It may rip everything from you or offer you the world....and through it all you have to maintain your practice and focus.  I like to imagine what this dinner party is....what does this communion with the Father look like.  I am reminded of Dan Rather, CBS anchor, who once asked Mother Teresa what she said during her prayers. She answered, "I listen." So Rather turned the question and asked, "Well then, what does God say?" To that Mother Teresa smiled with confidence and answered, "He listens."    This is the sweetest prayer there is, in my opinion.  And Jesus in this saying is inviting us all to it, if we will make the time.

Comments

  1. Thank you, Br. Jay. I resonated especially with this: "I looked at various religions...but truth was none of them was home." Same here.

    It sounds like we've had similar journeys — what I sometimes call "the scenic tour of the Church."

    I mentioned to a friend the other day that now, after finding The Gospel of Thomas, when people ask me what religion I am, I sometimes just say, "Human." Simply resting in what I was created to be helps keep me mindful of the Presence of God.

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