Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Going Out

THE APOSTLES went out of themselves.

As my daughter enters her fourth month, it's clear that she's absolutely "got me." A blessing, without question. But it also presents an interesting issue. The deeper I love her, the more I’m tempted to love her to the exclusion of others. Is it necessary? On one level, yes. I very much want and must forge a bond with her. But, that’s not hard: I love her so much. Heck, I can hardly leave for work in the morning.

Is love quantifiable, though? Do we not live in the Spirit, who gives without measure?
God does not give the Spirit by measure. The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand. He who believes in the Son has everlasting life(1).
If we trust the grace of God, we can love our spouses, our children, our families, our coworkers, our neighbors, our enemies and our frenemies.

St. Isaac of Syria writes,
What is a merciful heart? It is a heart on fire for the whole of creation, for humanity, for the birds, for the animals, for demons, and for all that exists. By the recollection of them the eyes of a merciful person pour forth tears in abundance. By the strong and vehement mercy that grips such a person’s heart, and by such great compassion, the heart is humbled and one cannot bear to hear or to see any injury or slight sorrow in any in creation. For this reason, such a person offers up tearful prayer continually even for irrational beasts, for the enemies of the truth, and for those who harm her or him, that they be protected and receive mercy. And in like manner such a person prays for the family of reptiles because of the great compassion that burns without measure in a heart that is in the likeness of God(2).
Like the holy apostles, who no doubt had families which they loved very much (1 Cor. 9:5), we can trust that the Spirit and grace of God is boundless.

We can "go out" from the safe cycle of wake-work-home-sleep-wake, burning with that love for all creation.
(1) John 3
(2) St. Isaac of Syria, Ascetical Homilies, Homily 71

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