Yeshua’s students said to him:
Is circumcision beneficial?

He answered: If it were useful,
you would be born circumcised.
But true circumcision in the spirit
is entirely beneficial.

(Mark 2:27; John 4:24; I Corinthians 7:19; Galatians 5:6; Galatians 6:15; Colossians 2:11)

Yeshua’s students do not always appear in the most complimentary light in the Thomas text, any more than they do in the canonical Gospels. They are portrayed as obsessively concerned with the externals of life. Here they want to know about ritual observance and purity. Do we need to be law-keepers according to the traditions of our ancestors?

Yeshua does not appear to have much time for their concerns. External requirements he suggests will take care of themselves. It is the question of “the spirit” that matters.

It is so easy for me to get trapped on the surface. I seem to have an instinctive orientation to the physical tangible realm. It is on this plane that all my anxiety, fear, insecurity, and anguish are located. This is where I experience life as lacking.

Jesus said,

strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:33)

When I attend to the things of “the spirit”, the tangible material realm will take care of itself. It sounds almost glib. Of course I need to work to keep a roof over my head and food on the table. I need to attend to my responsibilities.

It is a question of priorities. Jesus says, “strive first.”

What do I put first? Too often I worry first about the rules and regulations of my religious system. I worry about the impression I am making in my community and on the world. I fret first about how slickly the machine of my little life seems to be operating. I concern myself about whether there will be enough for me, whether the resources are adequate for the journey. And so I worry and fuss.

“True circumcision in the spirit” means cutting away those extraneous concerns about religious observance that keep me trapped on the surface of life. “True circumcision in the spirit” allows the priorities of my life to take their proper order.

When I put “first” the things of the kingdom, the religious observances of my life will never be an end in themselves. My religious practices will always serve the unfolding of that inner freedom that is the true longing of my life.

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Today I will pay attention to those ways in which I allow the horizontal material realm of life to move into first place and will seek to reorient my life to reflect my true priority.

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