Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Draw Our Hearts Closer to You

"For know, dear ones, that every one of us is undoubtedly responsible for all people, and everything on earth...each one personally for all humankind and every individual human being" (Father Zossima in Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov, chapter 25).

I have always been struck by these words that Dostoevsky puts on the lips of his famous fictional staretz. They may have been inspired by monks the author visited during a pilgrimage to several great Russian monasteries prior to writing his last and greatest novel, just as the character of Alyosha, Father Zossima's young disciple, was inspired in part by Dostoevsky's brilliant young friend and pilgrimage companion, Vladimir Soloviev.

The old staretzy and the youthful Soloviev were mystics. And there would seem to be some mystical intuition at play in this quotation. We are all certainly much more profoundly interrelated than we realize. I don't know how this "works," but it is a mystery that prompts both humility and hope.

By our sins we really do harm one another. Even our omissions are ripples within the chaotic cycles of violence that move through human hearts and cover the earth.

When we do not, in the strict sense, share by cooperation or negligence in the guilt of others' sins, we should still be humbled by our own poverty in fulfilling the vocations God has entrusted to us, by which he wants to flood the world with his love.

At the same time, we must be strengthened by a tremendous hope. For the ties that bind us all to one another also unite us all to Jesus, our brother.

He carries us all.

In him the unity of the human race and all of creation finds its fulfillment. In him are justice, forgiveness, healing, and reconciliation. Through him, we can turn to one another again, forgive and be forgiven, and love one another as brothers and sisters of God our Father.

Jesus, you love every single human person,
without exception,
especially those who are the most lonely,
the most troubled, confused, and pained,
the most burdened with affliction.

You love those who do not know you,
those who run away from you,
those who reject you,
those who are afraid of you,
those who don't even know how to begin to look for you;
You love each one of them
because their hearts have been made for you.

Jesus, you love especially those who suffer from violence,
those who are beaten, robbed, driven out of their homes,
broken, crushed, neglected, forgotten,
left bleeding and dying while we pass them by
and hold onto our own cold, constricted souls.

Lord, forgive me for ignoring the burdens and sorrows
of my brothers and sisters,
for being too taken up in my own pain,
in my own loneliness and anxiety,

in my own confusion and restlessness,
in my not loving you enough.

Jesus, deepen my love for you today.
Draw my heart, and every heart, closer to you.
O Great Lover, win our hearts,
forgive us our sins,
conquer our fears,
heal our wounds,
show us your beautiful face.