Like Finds Like

In the best sense of the word you can say this of the Three Kings, who recognize in Jesus the highest king, even before they have found him on earth:

“Where is the newborn child who is destined to be king of the Jews? We saw his star in the realms of the East and have come to bow down to him.” (Mat.2:2)

As a king, you don’t bow down to another king—unless he has the highest power, as King of Kings. The three wise men, priests, recognize this power, long before John in his Apocalypse has his vision of the highest King (Rev. 19:16).

In the Act of Consecration of Man there is one sentence that brings this power to perfect expression. Rarely or never do we realize the reach of this one sentence, which sounds repeatedly in every communion: “You, who bear and order the life of the world…” Christ is the key to the life of the world. Everyone and everything that lives in the world owes his existence to Him. Can we ever imagine that He bears the life of billions of people on earth, even the unbearable? Can we ever imagine that He orders all life on earth, even when it shows chaos and destruction?

Now that is a real King, who permeates all that lives in His realm with His bearing and ordering force! Christ penetrates so deeply into us—even though we do not know it, even though we do not want to know it—that all that lives on earth is His flesh and blood. That is how Christian Morgenstern expresses it in one of his most dramatic poems, in which Christ speaks:

All of you belong to me, in me,                                     Alle gehőrt ihr mit hinein.
All of you in my great being!                                          Alle mit in mein grosses Sein!
For no one am I overweening                                        Will mich vor keinem ȕberheben,
For he is life of my life.                                                     Denn er ist Leben von meinem Leben.
Whoever he is and whatever he does,                         Wer er auch ist and was er auch tut,
He remains my flesh and remains my blood.             Bleibt er mein Fleisch und bleibt er mein Blut.

Christ came into the world in order, lifelong, throughout life, in all future cycles of time, to bear and order the burden of life. But His task on earth can only be completed if we, each one of us with the means at our disposal, help Him bear and order—we, together with Him. Christ came into the world to rescue what could be rescued, to redeem what longs for redemption: in us, through us, with us.

-Rev. Bastiaan Baan, January 9, 2022


Happy New Year

When the new year has begun, we traditionally wish each other a Happy New Year.  That sounds nice—but these days you have to wonder whether that wish is still realistic.  Actually, we already know, don’t we, that the new year won’t be as happy as we wish it for each other.

Our future is overshadowed by the ballast of the past, by unfinished business, by lingering conflicts and crises.  We bring all of that with us into the new year without much prospect of improvement, let alone miracles.  At best we could wish someone happiness with unhappiness for the new year, in the hope that the damage will remain limited.

Or does perhaps the unhappiness, which has our entire humanity in its grip, still have something else in store for us?

A century ago, Michael Bauer, one of the most prominent modern mystics, described a memorable encounter with the angel of suffering, who came to bring him unhappiness.  He writes:

“Once, when I was visited by suffering, I was so awake that I could see the messenger of God.  To my surprise I noticed that he was holding his right hand behind his back, as if he was hiding something in it.

‘May I know what you are hiding?’ I asked.

‘Not yet entirely,’ he answered. ‘But what I can tell you is that it is something precious that gives joy.’

‘Are you then not only the angel of suffering, but also of joy?’

‘Certainly, how could I be an angel if I would only bring suffering?’

‘For whom is the joy intended that you are hiding in your hand?’

‘For you.’

‘For me?  O, when can I get it?’

‘As soon as you trust and your soul is stilled.’”

Perhaps that is the best thing we can wish each other for the future: trust in the spiritual world, in order to welcome the angel of joy and suffering with a stilled soul.  For also in suffering, also in unhappiness, yes, even in ill fate the angel of destiny goes with us, all the days, to the end of the world.


Rev. Bastiaan Baan January 2, 2022