Jesus said that the meek would inherit the earth. Today is St. Theodore day--St. Theodore the disciple of St. Pachomius. Because of his humility and obedience, St. Theodore was given leadership responsibilities in the Pacomian monasteries--there were several of them with over a thousand monks in each. Some of the monks complained because Theodore was so young. I wonder how St. Theodore felt about it? Being very humble, it must have been difficult for him to carry out the "obedience" [that is, the task in the monastery] of overseeing his brothers, especially his elder brothers. I wonder if he ever thought "real" sanctity would be found in scrubbing pots in the kitchen rather than in sitting at the head and giving obediences to others? I wonder if it is common, even in saints, to imagine--perhaps just for a moment--that really holy people do something other than what I am doing?
I keep returning to the Gospels. I keep going back to the Epistles. As I have mentioned before, I am easily led into depression by those who inspire me. I am inspired by great ascetics, and then at some point my twisted mind accuses me that I am not very ascetic at all--I struggle to drink my tea without cream on Wednesdays and Fridays. I read about great workers for Christ, like St. Innocent Enlightener of North America and I say to myself, "Yes, here is a man of God who worked tirelessly for Christ"; and I can't seem to get through most days without a nap. Truly, I am the servant given only one talent. Yet having very little to offer Christ, I strive at least not to bury it.
The Epistles tell us that the evidence of the Presence of Christ in our hearts is the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faith, meekness, goodness, self control. And though I am not a great anything, there are plenty of people in my life that I can be kind to. There are plenty of opportunities for self control and patience. Peace, though fleeting, can be sought and acquired and sought again when I lose it. Joy is never far away, though I sometimes turn my back on it. This is the real battleground of my salvation--and I don't have to be in a cave or on a mission field or anywhere other than where I am right now to enter the battle with my whole heart.
Isn't it interesting how we tend to think that our life, our particular circumstances, are such that the Grace of God probably can't do much with us right here, right now. I think this is a common delusion. At least it is a delusion that I sometimes have.
It seems to me that as long as there are small ways you can say no to yourself, and as long as there are difficult people to be gentle with, and as long as there are opportunities here and there--small opportunities--to do good; then we can be confident that we are exactly where God's Grace can fill our lives. Even if we have to spend a good deal of our spiritual energy fighting crazy thoughts and controlling disjointed passions, even then if we are crying out to Jesus for help, even then we might be becoming holy. It sure doesn't feel like it. It feels like I keep running to Christ empty and wounded by my own foolish thoughts, words and actions.
But then I remember the Gospel: "He who comes to Me, I will in no way cast out." There is my hope. Not that I can bring anything to Christ, but that in coming again and again empty and wounded to Christ, He will in no way cast me out.