#54 Living into a New Consciousness
The Holy Thursday Revolution
by Beatrice Bruteau
Partners with God in Creation ~ Chapter 10
Helene O’Sullivan, MM, has done a précis of this insightful book, and we share here excerpts adapted from Chapter 10.
Partners with God in Creation
Human beings are partners with God in the continuing creation of the world. Theologically we are living in an open universe. We have access to endless energy. Being creative is the nature of Being itself, and it is our nature. We cannot judge ourselves by what we have been. We need to look to what we yet shall be. God expects things to change, wants things to change, intends change, growth and improvements and longs for us to participate in this creative effort. God is the God of the living - the living God. Maybe there will never be a time when it is all finished, all over. Maybe the divine creating, the human creating, will go on forever “from grace to grace,” as Gregory of Nyssa said.
Our task is Co-Creating the world! We are the Body of the Messiah. We are God’s expanding outreach, God’s fingertips, where the action is, where the excitement and the beauty are expected to be in human consciousness, empathy and social relations. This chapter is going to be about creating, about what it takes to exercise our innate creativity. I will express what I take to be the core of the Jesus ministry in the context of a theology of continuing creation.
When people are not prevented from fulfilling their talents and abilities by artificial and unfair classifications into social ranks or deprived of a safe hold on their homes and livelihoods, they naturally develop their productivity and generosity.
But in order to be productive and generous, people have to have some means of being productive and some surplus of product. So, implied in the Holy Thursday Revolution is security in being able to produce something with which to be generous, caring and sharing.
Sitting Under One’s Own Fig Tree: The Nathanael Story (John 1:43-49)
I want to tell a story that is both Christian and Jewish and to retell it in a more casual language. The background of this story is the Roman occupation of the Holy Land and the consequent resistance movements of the late Second Temple period. The setting is near where John the Baptist is preaching prepara-tion for the coming of the Messianic Era and is baptizing people. Through John, Jesus has met Simon and his brother Andrew and another man named Philip.
Partly because of John’s testimony and partly from their own conversations with Jesus, these men are persuaded that Jesus has a way of ushering in the Messianic Era, when Israel will be restored to freedom and self-government and the land will enjoy peace and prosperity. They are telling this to their friends and urging them to come and meet Jesus.
Philip has a friend named Nathanael, to whom he expressed his excitement: “We think we have found the one spoken of by Moses and the other prophets! It is Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” Nathanael skeptically says, “Nazareth? Can any good come out of Nazareth?” (Nazareth is a small village in Galilee, and Judeans have a poor opinion of
Galileans.) Philip does not argue or explain. He says, “Come and see,” and Nathanael comes.
When Jesus sees Nathanael coming, he calls out: “Look who is coming! A true Israelite, without guile!” Nathanael expresses suspicion: “What do you know about me?” Is this the coded way people who may be involved in a resistance movement test each other? Jesus answers, “I saw you sitting under the fig tree.” Whereupon, Nathanael exclaims, “Rabbi, you are the Promised One of God! You are the Leader of Israel!”
The evangelist has jumped from “fig tree” to “messiahship.” If you look up “fig tree” in a Concordance, you will find that the fig tree is a sign of God’s promises being fulfilled for the well-being of the people, a sign of a new day of rejoicing in freedom and plenty and God saying to the people: “The fig tree and vine are giving their full yield…and you shall know that I am in the midst of Israel…and my people shall be shamed no more.” (1Kings 5:5; Micah 4:4; Zechariah 2:15; Joel 2:22)
So, is Jesus saying to Nathanael, “I see you already enjoying the fruits of the new age—the Reign of God will come in our lifetime?”
One characteristic of this reign of peace and plenty is that each household shall have its own vine and fig tree. Everyone is to have a secure hold on the means of livelihood and productivity and subsequent generosity in the shared Supper.
Think of the story of the Laborers in the Vineyard (Matthew 20), waiting in the village square for some landowner to hire them. If they had their own vines, they would have been gathering their own fruit. They had lost their land and production.
Shepherd Psalm 23
The well-loved Shepherd Psalm 23 is sung from the sheep’s point of view. The shepherd, who is in touch with the needs of the sheep from moment to moment, knows what they need and meets their needs.
The hireling sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep. It seems that to care for something properly, the agent needs to bond with it in some felt way. The good shepherd and the sheep belong to each other. Creativity arises from such bonding, from a kind of nurturing of the means of production by the agent, and also a respect and gratitude to the means for its contribution to the creative product.
Human Nature: Creativity and Generosity
That the world should be imbued with godliness is the point of everything. It is the point of the Holy Thursday Revolution: Turn away from trying to dominate and devote yourselves to creating and nurturing. This will make the world grow; grow in the direction of increasing godliness.
Such is the meaning of the evangelist’s connection of the fig tree and the Messianic Age. That age is described by Rabbi Noson Gurary as “the era of universal awareness, perception, and knowledge of God. In the Messianic Age, the world will finally become what it ought to be ~ a receptacle for the revelation of godliness.”
We are partners with God
in making a place, indeed a home,
for godliness to be experienced
by all of humanity, all of creation.
The Dalai Lama reminds us “that we have this marvelous gift of human intelligence and a capacity to develop determination and use it in positive ways.” This human potential gives us an underlying strength to deal with any difficulty without losing hope. We need to study positive imagery for social healing. In helping ourselves to gain some desired goal, imagining ourselves already in that position can be strengthening.
A verse from the Gospel of Matthew (21:22) suggests that when you pray for some intention, you should believe that you already have it, and then it will be done.
Peter Russell, in The Global Brain Awakens, states that we ought to be optimists because our optimism is energizing, just as pessimism is depressing and weakening. The images that a society hold and publicized of its future could be read as a barometer indicating the potential rise or fall of that culture.
Beatrice Bruteau concludes:
You are children of God. You have an umbilical connection to the Divine Life, to an inexhaustible source of existence, goodness, novelty and beauty. Draw on it. Nurse from it.
You can do what needs to be done. Do not wait for something magical or supernatural to transform the world.
We have to do it ourselves;
it has to come from the inside out.
Believe in God and believe in yourselves. Even a little confidence coupled with vision can perform miracles.
Mustard-seed faith can move mountains. Understand that the divine energy works by constantly giving itself away.
Tie into this energy with faith, hope and imagination and nothing will be impossible.