++ Desmond Tutu – “Dear Child of God, all of us are meant to be contemplatives. Frequently we assume that this is reserved for some rare monastic life, lived by special people who alone have been called by God. But the truth of the matter is that each one of us is meant to have that space inside where we can hear God’s voice. God is available to all of us. God says, ‘Be still and know that I am God.’ 

THINKING about the readings we hear in church, reflecting on them, imagining them, sensing them, can help us deepen our daily prayer time. This week’s Gospel reading is about Jesus’ own baptism. It is not remote from us; it is close as breath.

In the ‘farewell discourse’, as John recalls Jesus’ teaching at the Last Supper, Jesus promises his disciples that he will not leave them alone, that he will send them his Paraclete. He reassures them that, ‘On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.’ Paraclete is difficult to translate directly into English but it has the sense of some being or thing brought alongside someone (the form is passive), to comfort, console, vindicate, defend, support, instruct them. Paraclete is usually understood by Christians to stand for Holy Spirit. So it is the Spirit which descends from heaven and alights on Jesus at his baptism.

This same Spirit then drives Jesus into the desert to be tested and continues to empower him throughout his subsequent ministry. As Jesus dies on the cross, Luke reports that he calls out to the Father, ‘with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” ’ Then, ‘When he had said this, he breathed his last.’ Of course there might be distinction between Jesus’ earthly spirit and the Holy Spirit here but it is certainly the Holy Spirit which he breathes into his disciples at the end of John’s Gospel and which Luke describes as being like wind and fire at Pentecost in his Book of Acts.

Christian Baptism is about the sacramental indwelling in us by the Holy Spirit, binding us in relationship to Christ and through him to the Father. In both Ancient Hebrew and Ancient Greek, the word for spirit also means breath. The Spirit binding the Father and the Son, and us with the Son and through him to the Father then is…

…breath, holy breath.

Our relationship with God is like breathing. It is  immediate, urgent and near. God is not some far away concept of divine perfection. God is the very breath we breathe.

Breathing is not something we normally notice, unless something is wrong with our lungs. We don’t normally comment that someone is breathing well or beautifully! But it is essential to life. If we breathe mindfully we can reconnect with life. We can notice the presence of God in us.

Breathe now.

Inhale and know that you are breathing in. Exhale and know that you are breathing out. As you find a gentle rhythm, exhale your preoccupations and inhale God’s peace.

Imagine you are walking up a mountain with Jesus, in the cool of the evening, as he makes his way to pray. Watch him as he positions himself and as he enters into communion with the Father. Listen. Rest in the prayers of Jesus.


Now find your space on the mountain top alone. Gaze at the evening sea. Wait for the One who sent you.

painting by Jesus Mafa, Senegal

painting by Jesus Mafa, Senegal

Be still. Know God.


~ by Fr Tim Ardouin on January 14, 2014.

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