Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Heaven and Hell and Repentance (on the bus)

"He condescends to our infirmity and reveals Himself to Thomas, but He does not conceal the truth: 'Blessed are they that have not seen and yet have believed.'"
Archimandrite Vasilios

There is nothing like a day on public transit to reveal your poverty.  Brokenness everywhere calling to my own inner brokenness.  Thoughts stray in increasingly unhealthy directions.  I am disgusted with myself, for a while.  And then I begin to see my arrogance, my self righteousness.  Why do I assume that I would be better than this, I ask myself.  And so on the bus, crowded by hurt, bleeding and silently screaming strangers, I begin to beg mercy.  I enter the cave of my heart as much as I can and beg: "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me the sinner."

And then in a moment, a brush with Grace.  I come somewhat to my senses.    God condescends, again.  He condescends to be with me, to be with us, to be with the desperate woman before me and the angry man next to me, to be with the worried mother clinging to her baby on my other side and the frightened student behind me.  He comes to be with us. 

I cannot know what others experience in this moment, a faint scent of Paradise on the bus.  I experience a moment of peace.  A brief respite from the bombardment of thoughts.  And I sense a little window into reality, into myself, the truth that Jesus comes into my hell, our hell; and I am reminded that I am the one who turned away.  I am the one who wanted to wander in "a foreign land."

There is no hell too low or wickedness so perverse that our loving Lord will not (and has not) condescended to be with us in.  No matter where, no matter when, no matter how far we have fallen or how messed up we are.  Christ comes to us.  But he always comes with the truth, the truth about ourselves and the truth about reality.

Jesus came to Thomas in his doubt and allowed Himself to be probed by one who could be saved no other way.  Jesus came, but He did not conceal the truth: "Blessed are those who have have not seen and yet believe."  Jesus came to the Samaritan, in her immorality, in her heretical religion. Jesus comes to all who are willing to receive Him.  He condescends to come to us, but he always comes as Truth.  He comes to the Samaritan and also tells her the truth: "for salvation is of the Jews..."

Jesus comes to us where we are and calls us to move toward Him, to repent, to recognize the the brokenness and to call  it what it is.  

And then I am distracted again....


Mary said...

Father Michael, have you ever read Brother Lawrence's book, practicing the presence of God? do you think this is what he is may be talking about, perhaps to a small degree? By just focusing our thoughts and inner life towards God we may bring His presence to those around us?

Fr. Michael said...

Dear Mary,
Yes, I do think that this is probably what he is talking about, although it has been many years since I have read Brother Lawrence.
Fr. Michael