Monasteries of the Heart

Monks in Our Midst: Alicia von Stamwitz on The Missing Gospel

Have you ever wondered why Jesus didn’t write a gospel of his own? He could read, he probably could write—or he could have dictated his thoughts to a trusty scribe. I’ve puzzled over this for years.

A quote by the English mystic Caryll Houselander shed some light on things for me. She wrote, “We tend to use arguments like a sledgehammer with which we deal blow upon blow on the head of the unfortunate victim of our apostolic zeal, as if we could stun him into belief or convert him by concussion.” She’s right. Our religious arguments are endless and ineffectual, and they are often fueled by words, words, and more words.

Maybe it’s no accident that Jesus didn’t pen a gospel of his own. Maybe he intentionally chose another way. Instead of forming paragraphs on parchment, he formed a people, a community of believers, in a concrete place. Instead of printing a collection of his best homilies on love and justice, he went around loving people and acting justly.

I remember reading somewhere in the Scriptures that God’s word “dwells” in believers. That gets my imagination going. I picture God’s word as a living and active thing—not static but ecstatic—whirling around and around inside me like a holy dervish. I imagine it growing and evolving, embracing new realities, even thriving on the riverbanks of my tangled soul. It’s a comforting thought.

Speaking of puzzles and words, here’s a billboard sign I won’t soon forget: “J__STICE ON EA__TH. What’s missing?”

Alicia (Arellano) von Stamwitz is an award-winning freelance author and longtime editor with the religious press whose exclusive interviews and profiles of today's most influential spiritual leaders are published internationally (http://www.aliciavonstamwitz.com/). She served as one of our regular contributors through the first year of the "Monks in Our Midst" series.

How about you? Why do you think Jesus did not author a gospel?

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