Friday, December 09, 2011

Friday, December 9, 2011

Today’s text

From a sermon by Saint Peter Chrysologus (priest, 380-450)

In all the events we have recalled, the flame of divine love enkindled human hearts and its intoxication overflowed into men’s senses. Wounded by love, they longed to look upon God with their bodily eyes. Yet how could our narrow human vision apprehend God, whom the whole world cannot contain? But the law of love is not concerned with what will be, what ought to be, what can be. Love does not reflect; it is unreasonable and knows no moderation, Love refuses to be consoled when its goal proves impossible, despises all hindrances to the attainment of its object. Love destroys the lover if he cannot obtain what he loves; love follows its own promptings, and does not think of right and wrong … It is intolerable for love not to see the object of its longing, That is why whatever reward they merited was nothing to the saints if they could not see the Lord.


I love you Lord for the way your people reach across 16 centuries and touch my heart. What have I in common with a soul from so long ago? And could I hold in common with one the church has name ‘saint?’

Nothing, it would seem, yet Peter’s words tell me that I am not alone. Other hearts have longed and long still for the fulfillment of their love, eager to see the One they love, the One who is Love.

And as he said, there is no moderation in such love. It never finds complete satisfaction but always pushes for more.

Oh, there are moments, of course, when the soul gazes into the early winter snows or looks into the faces of children and is seized by the awareness that a boundless loving beauty stands at the heart of all life.

The elevation of heart that occurs in such moments transports us beyond anxiety and fear, and a ‘Julian’ feeling washes through the soul, as we know with that old saint that all is will and all shall be well. But the moment passes.

And even in the moment of transport to higher awareness of life’s center and meaning, we know there is more. There is always more, and we want it. We are never quite satisfied.

You are the More, Holy One, the One immoderate love hungers to see and know, that we might touch and experience totally union with you. We hunger to be enraptured, so that nothing that is us is outside of you. It is an immoderate desire stirred by your immoderate desire for us.

The state of enrapture is known in this life, even by the likes of me because you are gracious love and give yourself even to the unworthy. Even now, as tears fog vision of these black keys while washing obstruction from the eyes of my heart so that I know you as that total love that gives peace passing all understanding.

I wonder: What was it like for Saint Peter Chrysologus 16 centuries ago? He speaks words that leap the great gulf of time to touch me and tell me that I stand in an ancient line of those who knew your love and wanted more, find final fulfillment.

I can’t get inside of his experience, but his words (golden words, which is the meaning of his name, Chrysologus) move me into awareness of you who inspired them. And I know Peter is my true brother, brothers in longing … to see you.

Show yourself to the eyes of our hearts in this holy season.

Pr. David L. Miller

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