Feast of St John the Evangelist, 27th December 2021
You hear it all the time, ‘We grew up poor but we didn’t know it’
– a comment on and by Appalachian coal miners who suddenly find themselves at the mercy of forces far away: hedge fund investors who see them only in terms of dollars and cents and make the poor workers acutely aware of their true poverty which is the lack of power they have over their own lives and livelihoods.
This prompted by the difference between Simon Peter and the Beloved Disciple, supposedly John, in their reaction to the sight of the now empty tomb and of the linen cloths – some on the ground and, the one that had been over Jesus’ head, rolled up in a place by itself.
The inference seems to be that only John understands what has just happened; that his eyes, too, have been unveiled: the penny drops, forces far away reveal their true power, though now benign, and John realises the true poverty of his faith. It takes sometime for this change in perception to finally percolate through the rest of the disciples and John has yet to come to a full understanding, perhaps epitomising the project before us all: the nature of belonging to a Church always in process, always still coming to belief, waking up, becoming aware of its previous poverty. And then, gradually, daring to put this new understanding into words: realising that this was something that had existed from the beginning but only now understood; something hidden but only now revealed:
that we have heard
and we have seen with our own eyes
–a rolled up cloth signifying redemption, life after death, larger forces at play.