Christ is Risen! Truly He is risen!
¡Cristo ha resucitado! ¡En verdad ha resucitado! (Spanish)
Christó A Resusitádo! En Verdád A Resusitádo!
Dear Beloved in Christ,
In the homily yesterday, I quoted from On the Providence of God by St. John Chrysostom. He wrote this book while in exile from Constantinople, for having offended the empress by his God-inspired words. The faithful were in despair, wondering why God had allowed that St. John should be exiled. Thus he wrote his consoling–and theologically profound–treatise on God’s providence.
At the heart of St. John’s argument is extreme disparity between our own knowledge and God’s knowledge; we know so little about why things happen the way that they do. Meanwhile our Creator is working with an infinite number of variables, through the course of time and expanse of geography, simultaneously crafting a path toward salvation for every single human being. It is truly incomprehensible the magnitude and complexity of what God is accomplishing!
When trials and struggles enter our lives, we try to “make sense of things,” i.e. to figure out why we are enduring hardship. Oftentimes this intellectual exercise results in completely wrong conclusions. More often it results in conclusions that are just barely wrong enough so that we think they’re right.
St. John’s argument is ultimately an argument for humility. He says that we cannot possibly know the reasonings for why God does what He does. What we can know is that God’s actions are entirely out of love, compassion, and a desire for our salvation.
Below I have copied the passage from On the Providence of God, which gives a powerful analogy between a person ignorant of farming and the person who seeks to explain God’s providence.
EXCERPT FROM ON THE PROVIDENCE OF GOD
ST. JOHN CHRYSOSTOM (pg. 77-78)
If you are so curious and inquisitive [about God’s reasonings], wait for the final outcome and see how things turn out. And do not be thrown into confusion, do not be troubled at the start. …
If a man who has been born and raised on the sea and is completely ignorant of how to care for the land is suddenly moved to the interior of the country, when he sees the wheat that has been stored away and protected behind doors and bars, and kept free from moisture, suddenly brought out by the farmer, scattered, thrown about, lying on the ground before all passersby, and not only not kept free from moisture, but given over to the mire and mud without any protection, will he not consider the wheat to be ruined and pass judgement on the farmer who did these things?
But this condemnation does not come from the nature of what was done, but from the inexperience and folly of him who is not judging well, casting his ballot immediately at the outset. If he waited for the summer and saw the fields waving, the sickle sharpened, and the wheat—that has remained scattered and unprotected and rotted and ruined and given over to the mire—now raised up and multiplied, appearing in full bloom, having put away that which is obsolete, set upright with great strength, as though having guards and a watch, raising its stalk up high, delighting the beholder, as well as providing nourishment and great benefit—then he would be highly amazed that, by way of such conditions, the fruit had been brought to such abundance and splendor.
Therefore, you too, O man, especially do not be inquisitive about the common Master of us all. But if you are so contentious and daring, … then wait for the final outcome of events. For if the farmer waits the whole winter, considering not what the wheat is undergoing during the time of frost, but the benefit he will get from it, much more so, before Him Who cultivates the whole world, as well as our souls, is it fitting for you to wait for the final outcome. But by outcome I do not mean only the outcome in the present life—for often it will be here, as well—but also that in the life to come. God’s economy is directed toward a single end in each of these lives: our salvation.