I Never Knew YouFr. Barnabas Powell
I love this line from Shakespeare:
“Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio; a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy; he hath borne me on his back a thousand times; and now, how abhorred in my imagination it is! My gorge rims at it. Here hung those lips that I have kissed I know not how oft. Where be your gibes now? Your gambols? Your songs? Your flashes of merriment, that were wont to set the table on a roar?” (Hamlet, V.i)
It is such a powerful image of our own mortality and the foolish habit we humans have in trying to hide from that one, universal, reality.
But the first part of the line also strikes me, “I knew him.” What wonders we embrace when we work to know something or someone well. The discoveries I make about my own self as I work to learn, to grow, to deepen authentic relationships pays such spiritual and emotional dividends as to be unmeasurable in their worth.
No wonder the Orthodox Faith always brings us back to the confrontation of relationships.
In our Gospel Lesson today, our Lord reveals the one, defining factor that separates those who belong to God and those who only belong to themselves. Look at Matthew 7:21-23. Jesus says “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers.'”
You see, an authentic relationship with Christ always has clear and unmistakable “tells.” Knowing about God through the acquisition of information certainly is helpful, but the defining reality is actually “knowing” God to the level that this “knowing” affects your actions and priorities. The difference is between simply “knowing about” and actually “knowing.” You know this difference; it is like reading about being in love and actually being in love to the point you know each other so well you finish each other’s sentences. And that kind of “knowing” takes intimacy, time, effort, and desire.
Today, does God “know” you in this closeness and intimacy? I guess the better question is do you know God this way? All the wisdom of the faith is meant to foster this kind of intimate relationship with God; the Liturgy, the prayers, the hymns, the candles, the incense, the vestments, the movements, the rhythm of the year, the disciplines, the scriptures, the theology; all of this is meant to enable you to “know” God so well that the family resemblance is unmistakable!
As we prepare for the Feast of the Apostles, are you actively pursuing an intimacy with God and with your brothers and sisters in Christ? Are you prioritizing this relationship above all others so that all your other relationships are fed and nurtured by this first priority? Today, are you earnestly using all the tools lavished on you by the God Who longs for you to know Him, not for His benefit, but for yours? What riches you possess! What joys await your redeemed love! Will Jesus “know” you when He sees you?