NEMO DAT QUOD NON HABET
All of which, as you can see for yourself, clearly takes me to the scene in Luke's Gospel where Mary and Joseph find the boy Jesus in the Temple. Following an exchange of words with them, Jesus returns (submissively) to Nazareth and, as Luke memorably puts it, " the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom: and the favour of God was upon him".
And there you have it; "Nemo dat quod non habet". There in the simple domesticity of his home life, Jesus begins the process of RECEIVING, absorbing, taking on board, the lessons taught by the wisdom that filled him. What he is learning will change him, mould him, and awaken a call in him that will one day urge him to listen to the Baptist and then out onto the open road that leads through the hills to Jerusalem and to one final hill which will provide his path to the great world he never physically saw but into which his disciples would feel sent.
Now there is a thing called "Orthodoxy"; a correct understanding of things. The church has always held it dear. But these days, as the institution feels a loss of power and influence in the world, this orthodoxy is being encouraged to dominate our Christian experience to such an extent that we fail to appreciate the receiving and growing that took place in Jesus and the similar receiving and growing that is at the heart of our relationship with Him.
"He speaks with authority" they remarked, not like the so-called "experts" they were obliged to listen to in the temple and in their local synagogue. These "experts" quoted texts and offered opinions, Jesus seemed to "know". "Nemo dat quod non habet".
"Were did the man get all this" they asked, "is this not the carpenters son?"
Orthodoxy will pronounce that he "got it" because he was the second person of the Blessed Trinity, made man. He got it because of the "Hypostatic Union" a divine person with both a divine and human nature. But while such proclamations of orthodoxy provide useful maps to keep us on the right course during life, they can also deafen us to the Gospel potential located in our own daily receiving and absorbing. Nemo dat quod non habet.
In the Gospel reading of tomorrow's Mass (Second Sunday of Easter), John 20: 19 - 31, Jesus asks us to "receive" the Holy Spirit, and in the strength of that Spirit go out on a mission of forgiveness. He has already been warned by the orthodoxy of his day, that forgiveness belongs to God alone, but Jesus has clearly learned something, perhaps in those long nights of solitary prayer. Unhesitatingly he expects his followers to "forgive," warning them that refusal to forgive has the dreadful consequence of leaving others bound by their sin.
He urges us to such forgiveness because he has learned to understand that that is God's way; the God of Jesus. Nemo dat quod non habet.
Thomas shows us the way. He asks for an experience to bolster his faith. We must too; the kind of experience that will root our faith in the facts of life as we are called to live it. Orthodoxy is useful, but it will never send anyone "on mission".