Normally, this is the day to remember all those who have died, and hold in our prayers those who mourn the passing of loved ones. In thinking on those "thin spots", this is likely the thinnest of times. But on this All Soul's Day, I find my mind moving in a slightly different direction, particularly in thinking on the above passage from the Gospel of John:
"Anyone who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life." Such a statement has echoes to me of the words of Jesus found in the synoptic gospels, such as Luke: "Anyone with ears to hear listen!" This is a listening that is not passive, but active listening... more like really hearing the words and understanding the meaning of those words. Hear the message that Jesus is bringing, and believe it, and such hearing will bring you life. A life that has "passed from death into life."
No, I haven't been smoking any savory herbs or drinking Whiskey in the middle of the day. What I am thinking about, and have thought for awhile, is that the words of Jesus which address the idea of "living" versus' being "dead" are as much about the plain meaning as they are about a more metaphorical meaning. There are plenty of people walking around in the world who are still wedded to the idea that they can have happiness and meaning in life through things that are going to go away. Chiefly, they crave money and lots of it. And while there's a kernal of truth in the notion that life is a lot easier with money, is it any better? Fuller? Richer? Happier?
"... the hour is coming, and is here now, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live." Again, I see in this statement the active listening and absorbtion of what Jesus is teaching is a pathway to life. And this becomes even more clear to me in the next lines about God having life, and having given life to Jesus, and through this "life" that Jesus is now liberally sharing with his teachings, we may also have life. It's like the passage in Luke where people are worrying about following Jesus before they've buried their dead. And Jesus says, "Let the dead bury the dead." I read that as, "Let those who are still focusing their energies on wealth, power, and pride be the ones who bury the dead." Or, another way of seeing it, "Let those communities that have fallen away and aren't following the commandment to love God and love the neighbor as God so loves you do that work."
What this is leading to for me is my recent concern for the Church and the world. Too many people appear to be trying to do this life alone, and suffering mentally, physically, and emotionally, from that. And they won't trust in the Love that is out there waiting for them because it's not something they can wrap their arms (or their minds) around. Compounding this issue is the Church leadership who, through their refusal to actually walk in the daring, daunting steps of their ancestors and Jesus and challenge the boneheaded moves of political leaders or take stands that may cost them something, are unwittingly throwing up a barrier in front of those who might seek God. People who are "outside" the Church view it as a bunch of hypocrites because the leaders refuse to say, "Boo" about injustice. Has the Church leadership forgotten what happens to those who cause another to stumble?
The only way I know how to counter this is through my own actions. To remember "the source" and to stay as close to that as I can, so as not to stand in the way of the light that leads to eternal life. And to tap into that "source" regularly for guidance. God is working his purpose out as year succeeds to year....