Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Olivier Clément

We need to discover our own finiteness, and at the same time our longing for the infinite, that we are not self-sufficient, that we have not the source of joy within ourselves, that at every moment we must receive ourselves at the Gospel's merciful hand -- and this word "Gospel" resounds with all the depth of the Unknowable and the wonderful trust of the child discovering his origin. In the Gospel the very root of sin is the pretense that we can save ourselves by our own effort, that we can find security in ourselves and one another. This was the condition the Pharisees had been brought to in the end by their strict keeping of the law. To save ourselves we must give up all security, any notion of being self-sufficient; we must look at the world with wonder, gratefully receiving it anew, with its mysterious promise of the infinite. Everything -- the world, history, other people and myself -- can be a source of revelation, because through everything we can discern, like a watermark, the face of the Risen Christ, the Friend who secretly shares with each of us the bread of affliction and the wine of mirth. To this paradox, that the Inaccessible has allowed himself to be crucified for us to reveal that "God is love," our only response can be one of humility and trust, tearing ourselves away from all that holds us back, in our desire to worship, even in the midst of our suffering. The publicans and harlots enter the Kingdom before the just because they are well aware that they cannot save themselves; knowing the wretchedness of their condition, they are open to the Love that has come within their reach. [...] It is the consciousness of a desire that cannot be satisfied, the inner emptiness crying out to be filled with it knows not what. "The hearts of human beings," says Nicolas Cabasilas, "were made great enough to contain God himself." If they do not contain the Uncreated they will turn their desire toward created objects, and then only nothingness can spring forth, for every person is a gaping space waiting to be filled with God.

(from On Human Being)