Anthony de Mello tells this wonderful story:
Once upon a time one of the disciples spoke to another disciple, in fear and anxiety. “This man worries me and I don’t know whether I can trust him.” He was new to the group.
The older disciple answered, “That’s all right. Even the Master says to reflect on his words, study them, practice them, and test their truth before you believe in them, or in him.”
But the other disciple responded, “Oh, it’s not so much his words that trouble me. They often bring enlightenment. It’s his presence. He burns so much in me.”
I wonder if this is what Jesus was like.
On Sunday we heard from the prophet Malachi who warned the people of his day to be ready because One was coming who would “be like a smelter’s fire, a launderer’s soap. The One will preside as refiner and purifier…” (Malachi 3:1-4)
(For the full audio version, click here.)
Have you had people like this in your life? Someone who by their example, or their insight, or maybe even their confrontation about your actions or words or behaviors, has helped you to see where your own stuff is holding you back? Those people can sometimes be uncomfortable to be around, but we recognize how much they help us to grow and mature, they bring us back to what is important, they bring us back to our true selves. They are the ones we trust enough to listen to their words, reflect on them, and maybe even seek to change (to refine ourselves, difficult though it may be) because of them.
We wait for the One who comes… the One who had compassion, wisdom and love for all people and, without judging, helped to bring them back to themselves and back to God. Some were ready to hear him and some weren’t.
The Sufi master and poet, Rumi, was known for his passionate devotion to the Holy One. Many people sought to be one of his disciples and to be personally tutored in the ways of the mystic traditions of the dervishes.
One day a new seeker arrived and spoke to Rumi, “Master, I have come to present myself before you. Are you ready to teach me?”
Rumi, a master, indeed, in the art of discerning another’s soul, eyed him long and deeply, then responded, “It all depends. Are you ready to learn from me?”
We are preparing for the coming of Jesus, but this isn’t only about Jesus… it is about all those who are in our path to teach us, to show us the way, to bring us back to ourselves.
Are we ready?