Pilate asked him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate asked him, “What is truth?” (John 18:37-38 NRSV).
Before I begin, I am not going to try to answer Pilate’s last question, “What is truth?” My reason is that each person who contemplates the words of the Scripture verses I have chosen on this Good Friday will answer it differently. It is very important that everyone’s experience of Pilate’s question is respected whether we agree or disagree.
What might a contemplative do with these words from John’s account of Jesus’ passion?
“The contemplative simply stands in place and in the standing answers the question “Who am I” with the answer “I am the one who waits for the God within.” In other words, the one who pursues the center of life. I am the one who is in search of the Light that is distant from my darkened soul and alien to my restless mind and extraneous to may scattered heart. I am the one who realizes that the distance between God and me is me.
To lead a contemplative life requires that we watch what we’re seeking–and why we are seeking it. Even good can become noise in the heart when we do it, not because it’s right, but because it will in turn do something for us: Bring us status. Make us feel good. Give us security. Require little of our own lives.
God is more consuming, more fulfilling than all those things. The grail we seek is God alone. But talking about God is not the same as searching for God, all the simple saints, all the fallen hierarchs to the point. To be a contemplative we must seek God in the right places: within the sanctuary of the centered self” (Illuminated Life: Monastic Wisdom for Seekers of Light, Sr. Joan Chittister, OSB).
When Jesus gave Himself over to suffering and death on the Cross, He taught us among many things, to ask ourselves the question “Who am I?” I believe that when Jesus said “Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice, ” He was telling Pilate an us to search for union with God by asking ourselves the question “Who am I?” Not who we wish to be. Not who we were in the past. The question is, “Who am I?” Right here. Right now. That truth that Jesus was speaking of is our true sense of ourselves. Are we centering ourselves on being liked, preferred, approved of, what we own, what we do, our status, our title, our pride? These things are part of our false-sense of self. Our true sense of ourselves is letting go of all of that and living from the essence of who we are with total self sacrificial love for Christ who gave Himself up for us all. I suggest that in the Death and Resurrection God tells us through Jesus that “Yes this is possible even for you, because I love you.”
“Let them prefer nothing whatever to Christ, and may he bring us all to everlasting life” (The Rule of Saint Benedict in Latin and English. Chapter 72:11, 12. p.295).
What is your response to the question “Who am I?”
Brother Anselm Philip King-Lowe, OSB