As we move toward the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross this Saturday, listen to this quote:
“It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you say it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree helping each other to one or the other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all of our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – These are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.” ― C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory
“You have never talked to a mere mortal.”
This is why slavery to the self destructive and self deluded behaviors carry such a cosmic significance. You were made for an eternal reality. You were created to become by grace what Christ is by nature. And, today, you are helping those around you in countless small and big ways to either become that eternal companion or an eternal enemy.
Frankly, this is too big for me. It both cowers me and excites me. It is the stuff that shakes me out of my lethargy and sometimes drives me to hide from the Bright Light of such glory. I find when I am able to embrace this glory, I am in a place where my fears and self centeredness have receded and I am open to God’s grace. When I run from this Bright Light, I am running because the Light is revealing that which I most fear in my own heart.
In both instances and in all the degrees of response in between, the Light does not change or diminish. It is my own heart that, to one extent or the other, is able or unable to behold Him.
In today’s Epistle Lesson, St. Paul says as much:
“BRETHREN, Christ died for all, that those who live might live no longer for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.
From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once regarded Christ from a human point of view, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. So we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:15-21
This past Sunday, I told our parish in the homily that God wasn’t interested in making you a moral person or a pious person; those results are byproducts of what He really desires to make you – A New Person. The behaviors and pious acts will follow a new person and strengthen and foster deeper “newness” in that person. But first comes that forever new moment of conversion that I am invited to experience daily, perhaps even moment by moment. The “A HA” moment of refusing to regard anyone “from a human point of view” AND the revelation that, as Christ’s Ambassador, I am also given the “ministry of reconciliation.”
Today, don’t just be a moral person, be a new person. Begin by meeting yourself in the Bright Light of your eternal potential and refuse to reduce those around you to objects of anger, resentment, bitterness, and fear. Reconciliation is our calling, our ministry, and that is only possible through the new Bright Light of the potential of we humans created in God’s image to be made into His Likeness. Reject the beastly and mundane definition of humanity, of persons, as mere fleshly machines, and see with the eyes of your Creator, the only True Lover of Mankind. Watch as that “man in the mirror” begins to reflect the same uncreated Light of our Lord, not because you are a “good” person but because you are a free person like your Creator.
Today, embrace the Bright Light of Glory meant to transform you (are you being transformed?). Pray for grace and strength to escape the shadow of death and enter into the newness of life, His Life, the Life given to you, purchased for you, and for all. Rise up today and see beyond mereness! Today, God makes His appeal to the world through you! Such a vessel of honor and glory!
“Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.”
Ha, Fr. Barnabas, I so love The Weight of Glory!
I burst into tears whenever I read this beautiful and moving work of great wisdom and power. I agree with the person who thought it should be one of those sermons read every year in every church. I certainly need to re-read it regularly.
Will you by any chance be writing to highlight “the dialectic of desire” as Lewis so beautifully reveals it in the same sermon? We so easily fill our vision with “shoulds” and “should-nots” and forget that its about eternity, not bringing about heaven on earth as the materialist world view presents it.
It seems to me that Christian anthropology, this understanding that no man or woman is a “mere mortal”, is something that should be presented to the world as an antidote to its ills and might even demonstrate that Christianity is not about enslaving people to archaic rules, or condemnation, but about freeing them to become gods.
Thanks for the reminder.