I have said these things to you while I am still with you.
When it comes to discussing religion in the public sphere, I’ve noticed that most conversations tend to drift toward the theoretical content of particular traditions. I get tripped up over the yea or nay related to specific doctrines of the faith:
Can one prove the existence of God? What is the nature of the afterlife? Do miracles happen? Is one religion inherently superior to another?
These questions are not unimportant, but I do myself a disservice when my discourse never moves beyond them. All theology is an attempt, on the part of human beings, to put into words the experience of the Sacred. Religious traditions have emerged around those expressions that have been most helpful to the life of a particular community. We preserve these expressions and pass them on to future generations, in hopes that our descendants won’t have to “reinvent the wheel,” spiritually speaking, and may even achieve greater things in the life of faith, accomplishments of which we ourselves are incapable.
But we should be careful to remember that these expressions are secondary. Jesus says “these things” (the content of his message) to his disciples “while I am still with you.” Experience precedes expression. And all Scriptures, Sacraments, doctrines, and rituals are meant to usher me into my own experience of the Sacred. If I miss that, I have missed the point entirely.
God, open my ears to hear your message; open my eyes to see you in the world around me; open my hands to receive and to share; open my heart to be your home. Amen.