A few weeks before uni broke up for Easter I lost my confidence when offering a homeless man food and coffee. I have never before encountered any problems feeding the homeless, but he was having a bad day. I asked if he wanted anything and he asked for a coffee with sugar. I crossed the very busy road and stood in the coffee shop queue waiting my turn to be served. After several minutes, just as the lady had heated up the milk in the giant professional coffee machine, and poured it into the take-out cup, the homeless man flew into the shop in a frighteningly aggressive rage swearing his head off, ‘Dont ******* get it in here, they are *****, they treat me like *****’.
The coffee shop was packed, he left the shop and crossed back over the road, to the step where he camps. I looked at the girl in dire embarrassment and apologized. I offered to pay for the coffee, but she said ‘don’t worry its fine’, and then she explained that he has lost his temper before when they have offered him food. I thanked them for their kindness and for letting me know, and then I quickly left. I avoided him and I avoided getting him a coffee from elsewhere, I wasn’t sure how to deal with it. It was difficult and slightly frightening, so I removed myself from the situation as quickly as possible and headed back to the tube station. On route I took a moments repose in the Our lady of Mount Carmel Church on Kensington Church Street. The following week I never offered him anything, I was a little scared and thought to myself that he needed to understand that was unacceptable behaviour. As I passed by his eye caught mine and he acknowledged me with a nod and a little smile. Although I lost my confidence, a week later I saw some children and bless them, they handed him a white paper bag with food in it, and something in me felt God saying don’t give up.
I just Love today’s reading.
It says everything that I think the mystics must come to sense at first, then feel, then know. You know those ridiculous silly continuous streams of coincidences . . . the Lectio Divina moments that connect the unfurling events of yesterday with the unfurling scripture of today, which makes hindsight a prophesy come true. The secret movements of God. Godding. It frequently happens to me in a most startling undeniable way. It happened yesterday and today.
I just Love Johns Gospel. It sings of the song of Mary of Bethany’s compelling attraction t0 Jesus. She sat at His feet hungry, thirsting, yearning for His Word, her contemplation on it would far outweigh any nourishment to the starving. Nourishment to the starving might be filled with longing, the flavours maybe magnified and taste buds heightened, but empty stomachs are filled quick and the famished are full too soon. The homeless man above, whom I sometimes feed, finds it difficult on days to eat as his digestion is ill. Rich food makes him poorly, he can only do bland. Sometimes the starving can not digest the food, it helps one live but not to be Alive.
When I contemplate Mary of Bethany I can see what she sees, I see her intensely intently listening at her Beloved Jesus’ feet, watching His every expression, sensing every dilation of pupil or flick of light in His eye, every tautness or relaxing of line on His face, every curve of muscle, or trace of smile or concern. I see her breathing His every pause, drinking His every word, resting on every precision of intonation, seeking in every beyond. And each and every uniting time, else moment that He shared His teaching with Mary, I feel her contemplating every wonder, and being fulfilled and deeper than deeply nourished like nothing Martha could ever understand.
And its no-wonder why when you read todays Gospel.
It’s a little bit like the difference between me and all the Martha’s in my family. My sisters and mother and brother. They just don’t get it.
Mary had no problem believing I am sure, because she saw the secret movements of God too . . . in Jesus. You can only see this when you know Love beyond Love. I much suspect in the same way that she believed as I believe, day by day in little miracles, undeniable. Today’s Gospel is exactly the teachings that I know Mary gave her whole heart over to contemplating. This is why she so Loved Him and why I so Love Johns Gospel.
Jesus said to Nicodemus:
‘Do not be surprised when I say:
You must be born from above.
The wind blows wherever it pleases;
you hear its sound,
but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going.
That is how it is with all who are born of the Spirit.’
‘How can that be possible?’ asked Nicodemus. ‘You, a teacher in Israel, and you do not know these things!’ replied Jesus.
‘I tell you most solemnly,
we speak only about what we know
and witness only to what we have seen
and yet you people reject our evidence.
If you do not believe me when I speak about things in this world,
how are you going to believe me when I speak to you about heavenly things?
No one has gone up to heaven
except the one who came down from heaven,
the Son of Man who is in heaven;
and the Son of Man must be lifted up
as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert,
so that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.’