Saturday, July 12, 2014

Met Georges Khodr: The God of the Heart

Arabic original here.

The God of the Heart

Lord, save me from myself. What is inside me is more dangerous for me than something seeking to seize me. It remains hiding like serpents and I do not know or I do not want to know, out of fear that virtue is needed within me and I do not want to give it everything that it requires, because I have not accepted to sell everything that I must sell within myself in order to become poor before God.

Man's first story is with himself. Nothing enters into him from the outside unless the soul accepts that which will not survive except at death, but before that it takes pleasure in itself. All of our pride pushes us to be content with ourselves, starting with going back to the warmth that the self gives us and which we consider to be the self. But man's first fear is of himself, of his own attacks upon himself. He desires life and death at the same time.

One who has known his Savior or has seen himself walking along the path of salvation will not die, but he does fear falling. I think that Christianity introduced the concept of fear of falling because it remains the heir to the first Adam in knowing the second Adam, which is Christ. This is that for us the believer confronts sin in a manner that does not exist in other traditions. Perhaps this is because of our basic definition of Jesus as the Savior-- that is, the Savior from sin. A long time ago, one of my friends accused me of going overboard with talking about sin. I told him that I know it, and it torments me. He said to me, "You have not committed this or that sin." I said to him, "But I am capable of doing it, because I know very well the beauty of Christ and I have every capacity for denying it. You do not fear a great deal unless it is because you know very much and fear losing a measure of love." 

Our conscience has no other task than to let us know how not to lose a single iota of love, because if you accept to lose any of it, you have made peace with sin and assaulted righteousness. The entire meaning of our existence is our wanting to remain in the love with which God has loved us. After that, all the beautiful things of God come down upon us. One who is spiritually careful is someone who knows how to lock the gates of his mind when an evil spirit has comes to it,  without submitting to evil.

The great fallacy that tempts us is our imagining that we can do without one virtue and be adorned with many other virtues and be okay. No, my friend, you will not be okay. Every sin of any sort sullies you completely deep down, without your knowing it. In the end, each of us should understand that sins are overlapping and intertwined. If you cultivate a single sin and ally yourself with it, you destroy all your good deeds because of the organic interconnection between evil deeds in the soul. You cannot be an ally of God in many virtue while also an ally of the Devil in one thing. The Devil lays waste to God's plan in souls that ally with evil. Thus our earliest fathers in the spiritual life insisted on the fight against what they called the 'passions', the sources within the soul from which sins originate.

The difficulty of the weak or hesitant believer is his not realizing that if he accepts sin into one corner of his soul, it will be brought into other corners too. What is the problem of someone who does not repent before God? It is his thinking that the Lord will arrange a place for him before he perfects all the virtues. Who is unrepentant? It is not necessarily someone who has given himself over entirely to disobedience. It is also someone who keeps a place for disobedience in one of the corners of his soul. He sincerely wants to walk along God's path, but he takes special pleasure in this or that evil deed. In reality, he fears that the heroism of righteousness will kill him. He knows much about God, but he does not want all of it because it has a cost. When the Lord said to the rich young man, "Sell everything you own and come,  follow Me," He wanted to make him understand that he cannot hold on to anything in the world or in himself because everything that is a barrier to Christ is enmity to Christ.

Why did God say to man, "Give Me your heart," meaning "Give Me all of yourself"? It is because the Lord knows that He cannot share the human heart with anything.

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