Jesus said, “Know what is in front of your face, and what is hidden from you will be disclosed to you. For there is nothing hidden that will not be revealed. And there is nothing buried that will not be raised.”
His disciples asked him and said to him, “Do you want us to fast? How should we pray? Should we give to charity? What diet should we observe?” Jesus said, “Don’t lie, and don’t do what you hate, because all things are disclosed before heaven. After all, there is nothing hidden that will not be revealed, and there is nothing covered up that will remain undisclosed.”
The Gospel of Thomas
Spiritual transformation can take a number of forms, and a number of paths to those forms, but in one way or another we can experience such transformation as individuals, as small groups or families, and as whole communities. We can move toward transformation via the path of Fellowship, Spiritual Discipline, or Spiritual Direction, or some intentional mix of these. This, after all, is clearly at the heart of the Church, the purpose of the Church in fact. It is entirely appropriate that we be invited and accepted into the life of the Church, and the experience of the Divine, without judgment or benchmark, but to be in and with the Church, without undergoing some form of transformation, is to have missed the point entirely.
The Church is an instrument of transforming Love. Undoubtedly there are individual churches that have given over to the temptations of the world, to be judgmental, accusatory, divided, exclusive, legalistic, and monocultural, but these are churches that have, not to put too fine a point on it, ceased to be what the Church is called to be. No, the Church is called to be a gathered body dedicated to transforming both individuals and communities, in the ways of the Divine Vision for the world. This was the work of Jesus the Christ, this was the work of so many we have historically understood to be sainted or enlightened, but it is also our work.
During Lent in these last weeks, we have focused our attention on six of what we might call spiritual virtues. Humility, Forgiveness, Hospitality, Gratitude, Compassion, and Peace are not exclusively Christian practices in any way, but in the context of the Church they are a collection of personal and institutional disciplines that lead to the kind of transformation of which we speak. This is namely a transformation of the core, or heart. To live differently in the world, to be different, to model something deeper and more generative, we engage in these practices, never expecting to perfect them, but always allowing them to teach us.
The practice, the intentional and regular practice, of these things transforms not only ourselves, but the world around us. Such practices school us and prepare us for lives lived with promise and purpose, lives that can manage the vicissitudes of existence, the highs and the lows, the confirmations and the challenges. That transformation is also the heart of the resurrection experience, the very point of Easter. The narrative of Holy Week gives us, in a really concentrated form, a suggestion of what it means to live in a transformed state, where even the worst that can happen brings new life, new mission, and renewed purpose.
So, the invitation to participate in such personal and community transformation is always extended to us as a central part of the Church experience. We will all step into this stream, as and when we are ready. And long may it be at the heart of the Church.
“Whether we know it or not, every individual is evolving. From the outside it might appear that we are not moving, but something in us is awake. That something will eventually lead us back to the truth of our real nature.”
“That which you are looking for, is what is looking.”
Francis of Assisi