Yet, time ceases to exist/comes into being in the same eternal moment: based on Mark Chapter 13’s “Little Apocalypse”
The Message of Jesus concerns the kingdom of God and the coming of the Son of Man…that is the “Child of Humanity.”
Chapter 13 in Mark, Luke 21 and Matthew 24 are commonly referred to as the, “Little Apocalypse,” and is a “teaching,” concerning the coming of the Child of Humanity. Jesus and his students are on a field trip touring the temple at Jerusalem. Jesus was teaching his disciples about when the Child of Humanity would appear and saying that the Jewish temple was going to be destroyed and the huge magnificent stones thrown down. The law that defined the new Jewish nation was written in stone, is this saying that no stone would be left standing symbolic of the Law itself being thrown down; or maybe a better word might be fulfilled, or “Transcended.” Anyway, Jesus’ prediction is like saying that the Jewish nation is going to be destroyed, everything the Jews live their lives around, the temple in Jerusalem, the rituals and sacrificial system of worship that identify the Jews as a people, everything that keeps them grounded and gives their lives meaning… has to be gone before the coming of the Child of Humanity.
Jesus says it is only after the temple stones are thrown down and several natural disasters take place, along with some wars and famine mixed in as signs of a spiritual upheaval, will the Child of Humanity appear like lightening from the East, along with God’s kingdom. However, Jesus ads, God is the only one who knows when this will happen, but it will happen during this generation.
I love this little bit of information that Jesus gives his disciples, don’t you? Only God knows. Of course this knowledge that no one knows the date but God takes Jesus off the hook for setting some sort of definite, future date.
If one reads what Jesus has to say about the coming of the Child of Humanity, carefully, we might think that these prophetic utterings of Jesus sounded more like Chinese fortune cookie sayings that are so general they apply to everyone at every time in history. Jesus’ ambiguous prediction of the end times has turned out to sound this way to many, as down through the millennia Christians have tried to predict the “end,” or maybe the new, “beginning,” by looking at these signs that are here all the time and saying the “Sky is falling,” or something like it. Now don’t get me wrong…there is cause for our concern. For how we understand this metaphor, this, “Little Apocalypse,” means a lot for the health of our spiritual journeys.
But when hasn’t there been wars and rumors of wars, people claiming to be some kind of savior; when hasn’t there been famine? When haven’t we thought there was some sort of incarnate, desolate sacrilege sitting on the thrones of power and worship? Certainly as long as humanity has existed the words of this 13th chapter have held meaning and still do hold true. Jesus says they, his words, will not pass away even if heaven and earth do, which is as I hear this, an ancient way of saying, “Different day, same stuff.”
There is another truth that comes out of the realization that these things are always taking place, and that is we tend to get numb and ignore the signs, fall asleep, so to say, because what Jesus describes as signs of the end times is the paradigm we live in; it is every day news and that’s why Jesus continually reminds us not to fall asleep – and to stay awake.
Jesus says in the Gospel of Thomas that the kingdom is spread upon the earth and humanity does not see it; the reasons generally given is that we are either asleep, blind or dead.
This is why, of course, Jesus also can say, “Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place.” These things take place for every generation as signs of the “coming of the Child of Humanity,” as birth pangs if you will, as Jesus says, these events are as eternal as life is eternal, the “coming of the Child of Humanity” is eternal, so that everyone who comes into the world might be enlightened, according to John’s gospel.
If the very foundation of our spiritual journey is reduced to rubble, and even that which we thought was Holy is seen as a, “desolating sacrilege,” when we admit that we know not ourselves nor our God, when, as disciples of the Word of Life we have nothing left but faith, hope and love, Jesus says we must stay awake, for the Child of Humanity may appear as a flash of lightening from the East; exactly because we have nothing left but faith, hope and love.
Jesus is teaching us about waking up to who we are in relationship to the mystery we worship as, God. He is talking about what takes place in how we view the world when we are “born again” in conscious awareness of the ecstatic love of the Holy One. Jesus’ words about wars and rumors of wars are true spiritually as well as worldly. If we were to take this story literally we would have already written it off as, “Jesus got it wrong.” As a metaphor, though, for our spiritual awakening, for the coming of the Child of Humanity, it is eternally true.
A Child of Humanity is one who is not just aware of God, but one who lives in communion with God, according to God’s will, while being able to see the world through the eyes of the Ground of All Being as God’s kingdom. A Child of God is one who sees everyone else as also being children of God, as temples of the Holy Dimension and the reason for the command to, “love thy neighbor as thyself.” “Look at your life through heaven’s eyes…” POE Jesus says in Luke that those who do God’s will are children of God.
Before we can see through God’s eyes as children of the Divine, the world we are used to seeing and responding to must be destroyed. As we wake up to how the world works in comparison to how it should work, we will see the incarnate sacrilege in the hearts of power, not only in the outer world but most powerfully in our own hearts, someone that forms a wall between us and the Divine and usurps our identity; this is the one who has to be replaced and when this happens;
“Whoever has come to know the world has discovered the body, and whoever has discovered the body, of that person the world is not worthy” (Jesus, Gospel of Thomas #80). “Then you will know that I am in the Father, you are in me and I am in you” (Gospel of John). We see the world, but we also see something powerful in it, as it is out of the world that we are born anew in the Spirit as in a flash of lightening.
Jesus refers to this experience of waking up to this moment in which God inhabits our hearts in very earthly terms, such as the cultural icons being thrown down and the earth being ripped apart and as “lightening coming from the East,” unmistakable and impossible to ignore emotional upheaval, breaking in on us in the blink of an eye. It is said that true wisdom, God Wisdom, rises like the sun, and shines on us from the East to the West. The Wisdom of God throws down the wisdom of the world as foolish, as Paul points out.
This flash of insight, like Lightning from the East, this God Wisdom, is like real lightening as it rips the world we once knew apart. That is, in an instant we see life with power and meaning as it should be; we are identified as a, New Being, a new heaven and earth, as Creator and Creation co-mingling. From this new point of awareness we see the world as it really is and we see the world as it could be. We see who we have been and who we should be, just as the Samaritan woman testifies of her moment with the Christ at Jacob’s Well: “He told me everything I ever did.”
If we let this experience guide us and live out of our new insight, we are truly a New Being; if we continue on living our lives out of our old world view, if we turn our backs on our calling, or drag our new vision of reality before the courts of the world and do not listen to the Holy Spirit, we remain in the words of our myth, dead. So, what I tell some of my fundamentalist friends who are too literally taken with the idea of being, “Left Behind,” is, “If you are worried about being left behind, you have been.” Actually no one is left behind, as all things are possible with God…but I digress…
So let us flee to the mountains, which may be better thought of in terms of going up the mountain of God, as Moses and as Jesus, James, John and Peter. We must transcend the world, go to the high places, which means we must give in to God; we must give in to our new vision. We must run from our old ways of thinking as if for our very lives. Find a real church group or religious tradition that is really doing some spiritual stuff. These are mountains like Jerusalem and the tradition of Jacob in Samaria that the Samaritan woman asks the Christ about.
Jesus warns against those who tell us to look here or there for the Messiah, or Child of Humanity, by saying don’t believe them. They lead you astray. In the Gospel of Mary Jesus says, “Peace be with you. Receive my peace. Be careful to let no one lead you astray by saying, ‘Look here.’ or ‘Look there.’ The Child of humanity is within you. Follow that.”
Jesus’ life is a demonstration of God’s kingdom within and on the earth; a demonstration of how someone lives after experiencing the coming of the lightening from the East that has opened the heart to the overwhelming power of God’s love for all of creation. How we interact with one another depends on our individual vision of who we are and who we pray to, as that vision is out of which we shape eternity in each and every event. We must be awake.
What is missing in this particular story, but is intrinsically bound up in it is, how are we to stay awake, how are we to know what it is we are seeing, such as the kingdom of God already spread upon the earth, if we have never seen it before?
We are given impossible instructions, it seems, on how to see with God’s eyes – and that is through the command to love God with all of our “Whole Beingness,” everything that we are, and our Neighbors in the same manner, with everything that we are, to “love thy neighbor as thy self.”
The disciples are following Jesus for a reason, and that reason is to be able to see reality as Jesus does. They want to have the mountain top, lightening from the East flashing in the cloud experience that names them each as a “Child of Humanity.” How much more human can this command be, to love God and neighbor? Yet, this God’s command, when lived out of properly, turns the world upside down in a flash of lightening.
So it is the Great Command that Jesus’ life and actions develops for us as a “living Prayer,” mediation, a path for us to follow into that storm cloud on top of God’s mountain, before which all things are thrown down, including our selfishness, freeing our hearts to be enlightened by God. This is not an easy process, letting go, and it can be even scary as Jesus says, by shaking the foundations of our belief systems.
The question on everyone’s heart is what does one experience in the Flash of Lightening that destroys one world while revealing another? Well, that’s for the seeker to find out…I mean seriously… only God knows. But there are many poems, stories and words that relate to us some of what we might experience, including those depicted in our own scriptures. Some of the most powerful descriptions of the embrace of God have words like, fear, awe, trembling, but then the word, “ecstasy.” Somehow they are related as they try, in vain, to describe a Transcendent High that results when one is in the conscious embrace of the Holy One.
“For as lightening that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.” Jesus is telling us how enlightenment, referred to literally as, the end of the age, first appears to those who are awake for it, those who are following the Command to love one another. The author of Matthew has Jesus say, “That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left. It is a powerful and unmistakable personal, sacred moment of flashing lightening in which one is embraced by the Eternal while those around that one know nothing – a road to Damascus experience.
In a very real way, in this moment, as the lightning flashes from the East, as a result of the eternal embrace, doubt and faith are replaced by knowledge and wisdom of the Divine. Of course this moment, like the flash of lightning, is gone in the blink of an eye, sometimes, and all that is left is the emotionally filled, ecstatic memory of that sacred flash of Grace. But in it we have been renamed and now know what we are looking for, what we are staying awake for, all the while following the Great Command to love with no fear.
Jesus says, “Two men will rest on a couch; one will live and one will die.”
In these personal eternal moments, as we experience within the deepest center of our being, that flash of lightning from the East, part of us is cut off as the old self is replaced by the new. One has died, one lives; one has been taken, one has been left behind; to sum up this “Little Apocalypse, the Child of Humanity is coming into the world eternally through open, unobstructed hearts.