Sunday, January 08, 2006

The Epiphany

Divine Guidance
Therefore he who is Gnostic is truly a being from above. When he is called he hears; he answers; he directs himself to Him who calls him and returns to Him; he apprehends how he is called.
There are many who would force us where they will, and many forces within us that drive us through desires and delusions. Yet, in the midst of the screaming chaos of orders and desires—there is something that would guide us.

A human guide to the deeper side of life is something rare in this world, and often mistaken. But a spiritual guide is not much different from any other guide through the wilderness. One who can truly guide, doesn't offer to go on the journey for you, doesn't promise an easy journey on a difficult trail, and listens more closely to the one's being guided than they do to the guide. It should also go without saying that they don't lead you off and rob you.

A human spiritual guide is at best a more seasoned traveler, more experienced, but just as human, and just as fallible. Even the most sincere and seasoned guide is subject to the vicissitudes of their own life, and to the same pitfalls on the path that everyone is. A guide is also just that, one who gives guidance. They do not try to take over your journey from you, or make themselves indispensable to it. As much as human guides may aid us at times, particularly through the more dangerous parts of the journey, they are not something we can have faith in.

We live in the realm of limitations: limited time, limited resources, limited by biography and geography, and countless other ways. Each of us are also limited in what we are ready to understand, and in what we are ready to become conscious of. Even the Lord was limited in what he could impart to the Disciples, with only a few actually following him in the true inner sense.

The only guide that we can have faith in is the Divine. This does not mean we need eschew human guides, but we must be always open to the true guide. The Divine leads us to human teachers and guides as part of a larger pattern we cannot yet see. Not usually for the lesson or direction we would choose—for if we would choose them unerringly, we wouldn't need the guidance. Remembering that the human guide is not the true guide—we must be open to be lead further on.

The two stories that are associated with this day reflect this. The wise men being guided by a star to the place of the Divine Babe. The wise men follow the star, which has been given to guide them, but they stop to ask directions of the worldly authority anyway: with terrible results. Herod is not a guide, he is a teacher who's lesson is that unrefined power is jealous and brutal.

In the other story, Jesus travels to the Prophet John to be baptized. In one Gnostic account, it is at the baptism that “Christ” as a higher being descended upon “Jesus” the human. However the story is told, something deeply important happened, this is symbolized by the dove descending, and the words of Divine approval. John acted as a guide, and as the conveyor of a sacrament. The role of John as an initiator of Jesus is remembered to this day, and is something of a theological pickle for many. In the Gnostic perspective it makes perfect sense. We recognize the seed of light, the divine spark, in everyone—yet it is just that, a seed, a spark. It is a long transformative journey before any of that light can shine into our lives, before the ever-present divine within is more than merely an idea.

If even our Lord benefited from wise guidance, how much more can we? The guidance we must ultimately follow is not that of any human, yet the divine guide may take us to many human guides, and many teachers of lessons positive and negative. Don't trust anyone who claims to speak for God, yet how else would God speak in words? Maybe God is speaking to us constantly, through the mouths of others, but we do not hear it. We are constantly being guided from within and without, called to follow the real and difficult path that is ours alone—though we are never alone on it. And while the path, the guide, and the traveler may all be one, it is only an idea until the journey has finished.

Readings for the day


Jordan Stratford+ said...

Another beautiful homily Father Troy, thank you.

Many fraternal blessings,


Adaire said...

Spoken by one who truly knows the voice of Divine Wisdom that speaks from within.

McCravey said...

Very well said. You have become one of my most inspiring Gnostic authors. I look forward to meeting you in person one day. Perhaps this Palm Tree Garden meeting we're planning will happen this summer.