His students asked him,
“Is circumcision of
any help to us?”
“If it were, your fathers would have
been born fully circumcised
from their mother’s womb.
The only circumstance that will benefit
you at all is spiritual.”
Translation: Lynn Bauman in
The Gospel of Thomas: Wisdom of the Twin
The First Response:
There have been times
when I have been enough—
leaning up against a horse in a fresh-cleaned stall,
watching baby goats bounce like popcorn
thrown out from an open fire,
feeding my baby in shadow and moonlight,
watching my brother throw a fast-ball,
his eyes narrowed and intent.
Other times, I’ve stopped up my holes
with wadded spiritual texts,
felt like I needed to add some more letters behind my name,
or let myself get swept up
in church politics—
I won’t make a list,
you have your own,
all the little ways we say
the way God made us
Journey through Logos:
I like the snarky Yeshua—there are a few logion scattered throughout the Gospel of Thomas that are so tongue-in-cheek that I, even across the thousands of years, hear him chuckling. Humor is a lovely way to teach, and he makes good use of it here as in other places (see especially logion 114) as a way to not just lighten the mood, but to shift consciousness. A Buddhist might call this sort of teaching a form of upaya, or skillful means. Laughter heals in the way that a serious discussion seldom can, and is yet another way to guide his students away from doing the “right” thing and into a wide understanding.
I love the play of “circumstance” and “circumcision”, too, the circular nature of that which is cut away to no particular gain in the way of gnosis, and that which, if spiritual, will enclose and awaken. The word benefit, as well, is a tricky one; Yeshua has been at pains to show that it is the ego who cares about such things, stacking up wealth, looking good and “right”. He may again be subtly pointing to the spiritual materialism that his students are mired in. While these word choices may be more about the sensitivity of the translator than Yeshua’s actual intent, these markers still work here.
Finally, I enjoy the essential goodness of the cosmos that Yeshua points to, that we are blessed and fine just the way we are formed. No water, no knife, no special ritual or judgment from political or religious powerbrokers can improve on what God has created us to be.
Hokmah’s Symphonic Note:
“Dare to be free, dare to go as far as your thought leads, and dare to carry that out in your life. ”
“The greatest sin is to think yourself weak.”
In what ways do you try to prove you are enough in God’s eyes? Where does this impulse come from? How might you live differently?
Trouble arises for us when we think that by engaging in socially mandated rituals, we will deepen our understanding of the Kingdom of Heaven.
You can find Kim's entire commentary on the Gospel of Thomas in Kindle, paperback and audio formats by clicking on this link: