The following passage is scandalous in the extent of its mercy. It is not in the canons – but in Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment. Perhaps I love it because many of the men I knew in my early life were more likeMarmaladov (the old drunk) than like others. But this passage has always been a favorite. Forgive me if I scandalize any by quoting Dostoevsky. God will scandalize us all when we finally behold His mercy – for, I assure you, His mercy will be beyond human imagining. Of this I have no doubt.
In the following scene, Dostoevsky is in a bar with Marmaladov, a drunkard and n’er do well, who would even see his own daughter (Sonya) take up prostitution to feed the family, and even then use her money to spend on his drink. The drunkard begins to speak in the bar on the Last Judgment:
Why am I to be pitied, you say! Yes! There’s nothing to pity me for! I ought to be crucified, crucified, not pitied! Crucify me, O judge, crucify me, but pity me! And then I will go of myself to be crucified, for it’s not merry making I seek, but tears and tribulation!…Do you suppose, you that sell, that this pint of yours has been sweet to me? It was tribulation I sought at the bottom of it, tears and tribulation, and have found it, and I have tasted it; but He will pity us Who has had pity on all men, Who has understood all men and all things, He is the One, He too is the judge. He will come in that day and He will ask: ‘Where is the daughter who gave herself for her angry, consumptive stepmother and for the little children of another? Where is the daughter who had pity upon the filthy drunkard, her earthly father, undismayed by his beastliness?’ And He will say, ‘Come to me! I have already forgiven thee once…Thy sins which are many are forgiven thee, for thou hast loved much…’ And He will forgive my Sonya, He will forgive, I know it… I felt it in my heart when I was with her just now! And He will judge and will forgive all, the good and the evil, the wise and the meek… And when He has done with all of them, then He will summon us. ‘You too come forth,’ He will say, ‘Come forth, ye drunkards, come forth, ye weak ones, come forth, ye children of shame!’ And we shall come forth without shame and shall stand before Him. and He will say unto us, ‘Ye are swine made in the image of the Beast and with his mark; but come ye also!’ And the wise ones and those of understanding will say, ‘O Lord, why dost thou receive these men?’ And He will say, ‘This is why I receive them, O ye wise, this is why I receive them, O ye of understanding, that not one of them believed himself to be worthy of this.’ And He will hold out His hands to us and we shall fall down before Him… and we shall weep… and we shall understand all things! Then we shall understand all!… and all will understand, Katerina Ivanovna even… she will understand… Lord, Thy kingdom come!” And he sank down on the bench exhausted and helpless, looking at no one, apparently oblivious of his surroundings and plunged in deep thought. His words had created a certain impression; there was a moment of silence; but soon laughter and oaths were heard again.