“The most important thing of all to him [Paul], however, was that he knew himself to be loved by Christ.” (St. John Chrysostom)
Very apt advice always:
“When your enemy falls into your hands, do not consider how you can pay him back and let him feel the sharp edge of your tongue before sending him packing; consider rather how you can heal him and restore him to a better frame of mind. Continue to make every effort both by word and deed until your gentleness has overcome his aggressiveness. Nothing has more power than gentleness. As someone has said: A soft word will break bones. And what is harder than bone? Well then, even if someone is as hard and inflexible as that, he will be conquered if you treat him gently. There is another saying: A soft answer turns away wrath. It is obvious, therefore, that whether your enemy continues to rage or whether he is reconciled depends much more on you than on him. For it rests with us, not with those who are angry, either to destroy their anger or enflame it.” (John Chrysostom)
As some of you know, I have a little book of art pictures and quotes that I periodically use for meditation. I have been pondering the picture below of the sinful woman anointing Jesus’ feet (James Tissot). And below it is a beautiful quote from John Chrysostom describing the love of God for us, each of whom is indeed the sinful woman.
“God desired a harlot, and how does He act? He does not send to her any of His servants. He does not send any angels or archangels, cherubim or seraphim. No, He Himself draws near to the one He loves, and He does not take her to Heaven, for He could not bring a harlot to Heaven, and therefore He Himself comes down to earth, to the harlot, and is not ashamed. He comes to her secret dwelling place and beholds her in her drunkenness. And how does He come? Not in the bare essence of His original nature, but in the guise of one whom the harlot is seeking, in order that she might not be afraid when she sees Him, and will not run away, and escape Him. He comes to the harlot as a man. And how does He become this? He is conceived in the womb, He grows little by little, as we do, and has intercourse with human nature. And He finds this harlot thick with sores and oppressed by devils. How does He act? He draws nigh to her. She sees Him and flees away. He calls the wise man, saying, ‘Why are you afraid? I am not a judge, but a physician. I come not to judge the world, but to save the world.’ Straightway He calls the wise men, for are not the wise man the immediate first fruits of His coming? They come and worship Him, and then the harlot herself comes and is transformed into a maiden. The Canaanite woman comes and partakes of His love. And how does He act? He takes the sinner and espouses her to Himself, and gives her the signet ring of the Holy Spirit as a seal between them.” (John Chrysostom)
What wondrous love is this!
In this Monday’s Office of Readings (for the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul), John Chrysostom wrote, describing St. Paul: “The most important thing of all to him, however, was that he knew himself to be loved by Christ.”
How many of us can say that about ourselves, that the most important thing of all to each of us is that we know ourselves to be loved by Christ? That reminds me of a quote I’ve shared before, but think it apt to share it with you again:
Not long ago I received in the mail a postcard from a friend that had on it only six words, “I am the one Jesus loves.” . . . When I called him, he told me the slogan came from the author and speaker Brennan Manning. At a seminar, Manning referred to Jesus’ closest friend on earth, the disciple named John, identified in the Gospels as “the one Jesus loved.” Manning said, “If John were to be asked, ‘What is your primary identity in life?’ he would not reply, ‘I am a disciple, an apostle, an evangelist, an author of one of the four Gospels,’ but rather, ‘I am the one Jesus loves.’” What would it mean, I ask myself, if I too came to the place where I saw my primary identity in life as “the one Jesus loves”? (Philip Yancey)
May the Holy Spirit, the love of Christ that has been poured out into our hearts, bring us more and more to this point.