Jesus said, He who is near me is near the fire, and he who is far from me is far from the kingdom. (82)
Toward the end of the Syrian Jacobite Liturgy there is a blessing which begins: “You who are near and you who are far….” This is meant spiritually, and here Saint Thomas has recorded a saying of Jesus regarding it.
He who is near me is near the fire. Those who are one with God on occasion speak very plainly about their spiritual status and their effect on others. This often confuses people, but to speak only as ordinary pious human beings would be to confuse them even more.
A great master sometimes speaks as a devotee, a teacher and as the embodiment of God. Jesus being an avatara, an incarnation of infinite consciousness, was much more God than man. Therefore he often said the same thing his Father would say. This should not be surprising considering that he said: “I and my Father are one” (John 10:30).
In the Bible we find the statement: “Our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:29) in the sense that contact with God dissolves all that is not God, making us one with him. To be near Jesus is to be near the deifying Fire that is God. Actually, this can also be said of any avatara who has been sent into the world for the liberation of human beings. Such a sacred being is able to transmute the consciousness of those close to him. Therefore the wise stay near.
He who is far from me is far from the kingdom. Those who ignore or reject the divine incarnations by their own will distance themselves from the kingdom of God–and therefore from God himself. To meet an avatara is an incredible thing, both positive and negative, because a positive response can virtually ensure our liberation, and a negative response guarantees our continued separation from God.
What of those who have not met an avatara? They can become near to any avatara of history simply by studying his teachings and thoughtfully pondering them. And since such a liberated being is permanently so and shares in the omniscience and omnipresence of God, a seeker can pray to him as readily as to God. By studying the avatara’s life as well as teachings it is possible to enter into very real spiritual contact with him. Then the aspirant will surely come near the kingdom and be enabled to enter it.
Read the next article in the Gospel of Thomas for Yogis: Seeing the Unseeable