St. John’s Contemplative Gospel – Light (Chapter 1)

iuSt. John was a contemplative.

As such he himself is the headwaters of this flow of all contemplative spirituality and all contemplative theology thereafter.  In him there is no separation between theology and mysticism.  Both are one in our life in Christ.  Consider:

The Word is the true light.  This light alone enlightens both who we are and our place in the world.  Without this light there is no enlightenment in spite of what we may think we know.  He came to his own and his own people did not accept him.  But to those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God, to those who believed in his name who were born not from human stock or human desire or human will but from God himself.  The incarnation of Christ is at the very centre of the contemplative life.  Those who are self-willed are in darkness; those who deny themselves see life in its true light.  God may be invisible, but God’s light comes to us in Christ.  No one has ever seen God; it is the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.

For many, reading scripture takes on the aspect of penance…effort without value…a chore…drudgery.  And after all, who reads scripture today?  Nobody.  Spirituality has become the catch word of religious experience.  Hence there has been a fracturing in the foundation of contemplative possibility; there is the experience of experience, but not the experience of scripture, the experience of theology.  This is the death of contemplation.  Faith becomes sterile in both senses that, (1) scripture forms no partnership for spirituality, and (2) religious experience is self-serving, justifying a whole array of narcissistic, unenlightened predispositions.

To experience God read and commit to memory the words of God.


I’ll take all the time I please this afternoon
before leaving my place alongside this river.
It pleases me, loving rivers.
Loving them all the way back
to their source.
Loving everything that increases me.

– ‘Where Water Comes Together With Other Water‘ (excerpt), Ray Carver