Maverick theologian Matthew Fox once explained the difference between a fundamentalist and a mystic thusly: A fundamentalist believes that the universe is conspiring against us; a mystic, on the other hand, believes that the universe is conspiring on our behalf.
From a more traditional theological standpoint, of course, things are a little less clearcut; I think most of Christendom's great mystics would point out that it's hard to observe individual and collective human behavior, and the "powers and principalities" that run the world as well as the crushed victims in their wake, and not conclude that there's something seriously awry with The Way It Is. But -- there is a cosmic conspiracy on our behalf. And we heard about it in yesterday's Gospel lesson, in Jesus' High Priestly prayer.
We heard Jesus praying for our protection as we go about our work in this world. That's important to remember in a time where many of us, as individuals and as the Church, tend to function in a spirit of functional atheism. We may talk the talk, and we may walk the walk to whatever degree we're able, but oftentimes we operate under the assumption that we are in charge of holding our own lives and the life of the Church together. Our own failings become a heavy burden; a constant, draining drumbeat of "No." The troubles in the Church -- its frequent lack of a strong prophetic voice; the challenge of fundamentalism inside and outside alike; the decline of church membership and indeed of any religious self-identification at all in the Western world; the ineffectual deck-chair rearrangement that Christians are wont to engage in rather than engaging in the real, hard work of living Christ into the world -- seem at times like insurmountable problems.
But today's text reminds us that we're not in this alone; that, as Scripture testifies elsewhere, we have an Advocate who interceeds for us always and for all time. That is very good news.
"Paschal Mystery," Gisele Bauche