The Truth of Who We Are

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Nunnery ruins, Isle of Iona, Scotland

Christ says to John that he is our memory. Humanity has forgotten itself. It has become subject to fears and falseness and ignorance. “I am the memory of the fullness,” says Christ. He comes to wake us up, both to ourselves and to one another. He carries within himself the true memory of our nature and of the fullness of our relationship with all things. He comes to release us from the falseness of what we are doing to one another. These themes from The Secret Book of John are similar to what we hear in the gospel of John. Jesus says that he has come “that those who do not see may see” (John 9:39). Or as he asserts in his trial before the Roman governor, “For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth” (John 18:37). He is the memory of the song. He witnesses to the truth of who we are.

I do not believe that the gospel, which literally means “good news,” is given to tell us that we have failed or been false. That is not news, and it is not good. We already know much of that about ourselves. We know we have been false, even to those whom we most love in our lives and would most want to be true to. We know we have failed people and whole nations throughout the world today, who are suffering or who are subjected to terrible injustices that we could do more to prevent. So the gospel is not given to tell us what we already know. Rather, the gospel is given to tell us what we do not know or what we have forgotten, and that is who we are, sons and daughters of the One from whom all things come. It is when we begin to remember who we are, and who all people truly are, that we will begin to remember also what we should be doing and how we should be relating to one another as individuals and as nations and as an entire earth community.

John Philip Newell, Christ of the Celts, 2008 (Jossey-Bass: San Francisco) p7-8.