God in Suffering

Passion nail in His handThis evening, before I return to my own private prayers, I shall quote the following. This is from Jean-Yves Leloup’s translation & commentary on the Gospel of Thomas. This is Saying 113.

The disciples asked him:
“When will the Kingdom come?”
Yeshua answered:
It will not come by watching for it.
No one will be saying, Look here it is!
or, Look, there it is!
The Kingdom of the Father
is spread out over the whole earth,
and people do not see it.
(cross ref: Luke 17:20-21, Matthew 24:3, 1Corinthians 2:9, Hebrews 11:1)

Commentary from Jean-Yves Leloup on Saying 113:

Rather than asking questions about where God is, it would be better to ask: “Where is God not?” Everything is a manifestation of his Presence; all that exists participates in his Existence.

We might object, “But is God also present in evil, in suffering, and in the massacre of innocents?” It is said that as a child was being led to the ovens in the Dachau concentration camp, a man shouted out with all the rage and indignation of a broken heart: “But where is God now?” His friend, a fellow prisoner, raised a finger and pointed directly to the child. “God is there.” Indeed, God is there – innocent, persecuted, led to the ovens, crucified by the monstrosity of human ignorance.

Yeshua’s teaching is always reminding us that God is everywhere, in everything that is. It is in suffering as well as in beauty. It blossoms in the redness of a poppy and it is crushed in the child run over by a truck. Who dares to see this fully?

Whether a Presence that radiates or a Presence that is being crucified, it is everywhere and fills everything. This is why Yeshua says, in Matthew 25:40, “What you do to the least of my brothers, you do to me.” It is a matter not of searching here or there for som especial manifestation, but of opening our eyes to what is already before us, here and now (see saying 5, pg 73) and caring for all that is.

Yet one place where God is prevented from manifesting is in the heart that is closed to love, the heart that refuses forgiveness and revels in bitterness. Hell is truly the incapacity to love.

Another place from which God is banished is the intellect that closes itself off from the light of its source, the mind that no longer seeks true understanding and indulges in a doubt that is only a defense of its ignorance.

The Tradition tells us that Christ descended into the hell realms, those dark states of consciousness whose denizens have extinguished all desire to love and all desire to understand. There he encountered the inevitable: suffering, absurdity, treachery, death. He encountered the Beast of human folly and did not flinch. Even in these hells he looked at those whom he encountered with the same regard of love and compassion with which he looked upon his friends, upon Thomas, John, and his beloved Miriam, upon Zacchaeus, the adulterous woman, and the rabble of the sick and wretched who so often pulled at his coat. He had seen to the bottom of the worst hells of the human soul and never ceased to love. And if any of those denizens glimpsed, even for an instant, the infinite compassion of that regard, how could they not have the capacity to leave even the worst hells and live anew?


    • It really is – I highly recommend it. We got our copy used on Amazon. Leloup has a wonderful mystic/gnostic understanding and a way with words that makes the ancient words fresh and sharp. It also really jives with some of the other things we read. Often in our living room goes a phrase like, “That’s just like what Eckhart [Tolle] said about the painbody.”

      When I was dealing with my own grief, Michael went straight to the shelf, found the Logion he was remembering and read me the saying and commentary. It really helped me, and I wanted to share that.

    • I agree. Leloup’s translation of the coptic and subsequent commentary is the best I’ve read of this text. It sort of makes me want to learn Coptic, but for the moment, I’m going to leave that to Melissa to do in her spare time. (Are you listening, Meli?)

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