The other day I was listening to a podcast from the Center for Action and Contemplation with James Finley in a series called “Turning to the Mystics”. Finley was a novice under the direction of the great 20th century mystic, Thomas Merton. In searching for God Merton liked to say odd things like “The soul knows where it needs to go to find what it needs to find.”
My notes are taken from this wide-ranging podcast on December 20, 2021, but I want to consider a portion taken from Matthew 22:34-40. A Pharisees, who was a lawyer asked Jesus ‘What is the greatest commandment’? That is, out of all these beautiful things that you say about God, and about God’s presence, what is the one thing, that if we would ground our heart in that, everything else would fall into place?
Finley says, “That’s a great question to ask a teacher, and notice, Jesus didn’t say a doctrine. He didn’t list things to believe. The greatest commandment is to love God and since, according to scripture, God is Love, it is to learn from the infinite Love of God how to be in love with the infinite Love that is infinitely in love with you and in that mutual self-donation of love everything falls in place. Love alone is the true substance. Love is the ultimate reality. How can I learn to live by Love, of myself, my body, my mind, my spouse, my child, my neighbor, the animal, the earth? Love your neighbor because we are all siblings of Love. We are saved by faith (Ephesians 2:8) which is the obscure certitude of Love in our heart. We are not saved by belief.
“In the creed we say, ‘I believe in God the Father….’ Some people are so creed heavy they can’t get to the faith, but if you are grounded in this Love knowledge of faith it allows us to read the creed as metaphors of Love.
“Consider two people deeply in love. One says, ‘I love you.’ The other one doesn’t say ‘Define your terms.’ No, it is a living knowledge that infuses everything they say lovingly to each other, which is their knowledge in love. It is they who are putting language to the love. All scripture is Love Language.”
Loving Father / Mother God, bring us peace and patience to know “The soul knows where it needs to go to find what it needs to find.” Help us to know that this Love has infused us into itself, and we are one with you, each other, and all creation. Amen.