The Name of love


But Jesus said, ‘Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterwards to speak evil of me. Whoever is not against us is for us.’

THE FAMOUS Cistersian monk, Fr Thomas Merton wrote, “… when one breaks through the limits of cultural and structural religion – or irreligion – one is liable to end up, by ‘birth in the Spirit,’ or just by intellectual awakening, in a simple void where all is liberty because all is the actionless action, called by the Chinese Wu-wei and by the New Testament the ‘freedom of the Sons of God.” The Zen he had found in his Vitnamese “brother” in the peace movement of the mid-twentieth century, Tich Nhat Hanh, was, he said, “beyond the formulations of Buddhism”, just as Merton’s own faith had long left behind the structures and restrictions of Roman Catholic doctrine. Though theologically different, the Zen path and the Christian path, when followed with depth and integrity, lead to “the same kind of limitless, the same lack of inhibition, the same psychic fullness of creativity, which mark the fully integrated maturity of the enlightened self” (Zen and the Birds of Appetite p 8).
When Jesus told his disciples not to interfere with those who were not part of their group but who did things of power in his name, what did he mean? For Ancient Hebrews, including at the time of Jesus of Nazareth, the name of someone contained not just meaning but the essence of the person; the name pointed to the true being of a person. God has no name in the Bible because God is limitless; how then could what is limitless be given a name? Any name would imply limitedness. But if someone acts in the name of Jesus or Christ, they are acting in the Name of the One who in his very incarnate being points to and embodies the limitless God. They are acting through the limitless love of the infinite Cosmos, which is the meaning of the names, Jesus Christ.

~ by Fr Tim Ardouin on September 29, 2018.

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