… And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you … – John 14:12-21

*   *   *

Again, we have a promise of the Holy Spirit or Inward Light dwelling within those who seek it.

In passages like this, we also need to take care to avoid dismissing a biblical situation with contemporary values; it is easy to label a confrontation in the Bible as patriarchal, for example, without being aware of how shrewdly an individual may be subverting the existing situation or exploiting to her own benefit (see Ruth or Esther). I do value attempts to understand a scene in both its historic social context as well as its modern parallels: we are too easily blind to our own conditions of exploitation and injustice, such as those arising from racism or from the military-industrial-high tech-university complex we are enmeshed within. Like it or not, as modern Americans we are part of a system of haves and have-nots that has benefited us handsomely. When we perceive historic injustice, we need to ask also where the parallels are in similar settings today. Put another way, when I’m reading scripture, the characters are often wearing Levis, rather than bathrobes – even Calvin Kleins and Land’s End; but they are still in Birkenstocks, rather than Reeboks, and remain pedestrians rather than jet-setters.

But this passage urges us to look within, now, for divine comfort and guidance.

*   *   *

It shines in the dark Heart of Man, though Man in his dark State cannot discern what it is, yet it is that sure Word of Prophecy, whereunto we do well to take heed, as unto a Light that shineth in a dark Place, until the Day dawn, and the Day-star arise in our Hearts. (Elizabeth Bathurst, 1655?-1685)

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