In Dostoevsky’s The Demons, the character, Kirillov, is insanely fascinated with freedom. He cannot bear the fact that he did not choose his own existence. Life is a “given.” In what must be seen as a parable of the radical thought of the 19th century, Kirillov determines to kill himself, […]
Author: Fr. Stephen FREEMAN
Human beings seem to be created with a longing for meaning. We not only experience the world, but want to make sense of it as well. That sense-making is a thread of continuity that joins every religious tradition in history.
A difficulty, of course, is that “God” has become the name assigned to a concept that is indeed an object of choice, one of many versions from which we select. The relation we have with such a “God” is not faith.
What we see in our present world is not the result of mistaken political decisions or failures of diplomacy. The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either, but right through every human heart, and through all human hearts.
Secularists would argue that Christology has nothing to do with our cultural constructs: such is the ignorance of our own foundations. Secular modernity is built on the foundation of a distorted version of Christianity. We are children who deny our parents, imagining that we have created ourselves.
We do not create relationships, nor do we have them. We are relationships and we either perceive this and pay attention or we do not. In as much as we do not, we begin moving towards non-existence – death. It is possible to be very quiet and yet be profoundly aware and responsive to our existence as relationship.
A simple means of renouncing wealth is to confess that we own nothing, but only have the use of our goods for a short time. The Christian attitude towards wealth in the early centuries threatened the very halls of empire. The gospel has not changed.
Human beings are created for true personal existence. That existence is a relationship with everything around us. But we begin to move towards non-existence when we nurture relationships with lies. See the truth. Speak the truth. Be the truth.
The most revealing thing within human history is the appearing of Jesus Christ in our midst. In this coming-among-us, we see the face of God. That face alone can tell us who we truly are. We can only know ourselves as we see ourselves in Him.
I am often embarrassed by Orthodox failures, just as I am by my own, and for the same reason. However, I believe our failures are uniquely unmasked by the sublime reality of the sacraments, and the perfection of the gift we have been given.
The mystery of our freedom is found in the condescending love of God. The exercise of our freedom, particularly when used for evil ends, inevitably makes God appear weak or non-existent. We rarely consider the fact that it makes Him look like an equal, and an equal who loves us.
“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:7). But it is the irony of the Cross: Love enduring all things. If you know the Cross and the Love that is crucified there, then the verse likely needs no explanation. Christ is His own exegesis.