Some parts of our sacred Scriptures are best understood with the head; through our thinking function. An example is the well known passage which begins with “Consider the lilies of the field…” There, we are invited to consider; to reflect; to ponder; to think. Our spiritual understanding grows through considering reality as it is.
Other parts of our sacred Scriptures are best understood with the heart; through our feeling function. In these passages we do best to feel our way into the scene, to experience the encounter with our heart and respond with our heart. In John 14:23-29 is an example of one of those types of passages. Briefly, the context is what we refer to as the Last Supper. In the previous chapter Jesus had washed the feet of his friends. The current passage is a portion of a rather lengthy one in which Jesus predicts his impending death, and comforts and reassures his friends of his love. Some Scripture scholars refer to this as “the Farewell Discourse.”
Here, Jesus is having a heart to heart with his closest friends. He is explaining what is happening, and what is about to unfold. He is encouraging them not to be afraid. He is extending peace to them, and, he is promising them that they will not be left alone, that the Holy Spirit of love will remain with them. If we can summarize all of this in one word, it would be presence. Jesus is being intimately present with his friends; and promising that he will remain intimately present with them through the events that are about to unfold, and beyond.
Presence. Intimate presence. That is the experience. That is the promise. For his friends, then, and his friends now. It is a message of the heart, one heart to another. Let us take time, this week, to be in a heart space; to allow ourselves to become aware — in our hearts more than our heads — that the divine presence is present; that the Holy Spirit of Love abides in each of our hearts; that we are not alone; that we have never been alone; that we have always been held in love by the abiding presence; that we will always be held in love by the abiding presence. And, let us respond to that abiding presence, heart to heart.
Rev. Thomas Altepeter is an Ecumenical Catholic priest and pastor of St. Clare Ecumenical Catholic Community in Spokane.
He is also a licensed psychologist and has previously served as pastor of an ECC community in Wisconsin, been employed as a university professor, served as a director of a large behavioral health department, and worked in private practice as a psychologist.