Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Loving Humanity and Hating People

"I love humanity,' he said, ' but I wonder at myself.  The more I love humanity in general, the less I love man in particular.  In my dreams, he said, 'I have often come to making enthusiastic schemes for the service of humanity, and perhaps I might actually have faced crucifixion if it had been suddenly necessary; and yet I am incapable of living in the same room with any one for two days together, as I know by experience.  As soon as anyone is near me, his personality disturbs my self-complacency and restricts my freedom.  In twenty-four hours I begin to hate the best of men:  one because he's too long over his dinner; another because he has a cold and keeps on blowing his nose.  I become hostile to people the moment they come close to me.  But it has always happened that the more I detest men individually the more ardent becomes my love for humanity."

"I came with horror to the conclusion that, if anything could dissipate my love to humanity, it would be ingratitude.  In short, I am a hired servant, I expect my payment at once - that is, praise, and the repayment of love with love.  Otherwise, I am incapable of loving any one."

~Quotes from two different people in The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

In my women's group today, the following question was posed, "Jesus set down certain conditions for those who wanted to be His disciples.  In Matthew 16:24 we read, 'If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.'  How has Christ presented you with the Cross in your life?  Has it strengthened your faith?"

Our discussion centered around the crosses of everyday life - Usually those that involve relationship,  ingratitude, selfishness, and unmet expectations.  The heaviest of these crosses are those which we have been carrying for a long time, and there has been no sign of positive change.  The wounds get deeper with the passing of time, and we are tempted to eliminate the source of them (the person who is repeatedly hurting or frustrating us).    We don't want to be so foolish as to allow other people to continually hurt us.  So, we become paralyzed in the relationship.  We want the situation to improve, but the other person won't allow it.

Consider the following: 

"If we only had faith we should show good-will to all creatures; we should cherish them and be interiorly grateful to them as serving, by God's will, for our perfection."
~ Fr. Jean Pierre de Caussade

"Harm does not come to us from external circumstances, but from how we react to them interiorly.  The harm that other people do to me, never comes from them, it comes from me."

"We have no right to identify people with the wrong they do.  That would be to imprison them and lose all hope in their regard.  Nor can we identify anyone - especially not ourselves - with the good they do."

"It is consoling to know that we can draw great spiritual profit from a trial with nothing spiritual about it."

~Interior Freedom, Jacques Phillipe

"Vain are all our lookings around to companions and relatives; they are broken reeds if we lean upon them - often unwilling when able and unable when they are willing.  Since the promise comes alone from God, it would be well to wait only upon Him, and when we do so, our expectation never fails us.  In all times of fiery trial, in patience let us possess our souls."  ~Charles Spurgeon

Sometimes things seem very complicated when we are in the center of the relationship matrix.  However, we should strive to imitate Christ's simplicity.  If someone hurts us repeatedly, we are called to forgive repeatedly.  We need to know that sometimes a difficult conversation is required to "clear the air".  We are very hesitant to do this because we don't want to hurt anyone.  However, 

"The Christian ideal is not to avoid hurting people, but to avoid harming them.  Peter probably did not feel very good after Jesus said to him, 'Get behind me, Satan.'" ~The Art of Christian Listening, Thomas Hart

We are called to speak the truth, in love.  And we've heard it a million times - Sometimes, the truth hurts.  If you think an uncomfortable dialogue is in your future, be encouraged.  Pray.  Ask God for wisdom.  Spend some time in front of the Blessed Sacrament.  Write down what you want to say.  Ask God if he approves it.  Consider whether you will still think engaging in dialogue was best, even if it is not well-received.

"Human beings are more than the sum of the good they can accomplish.  They are children of God, whether they do good or cannot yet manage to do anything.  Our Father in heaven does not love us because of the good we do.  He loves us for ourselves, because he has adopted us as His children forever.

This is why humility, spiritual poverty, is so precious:  it locates our identity securely in the one place where it will be safe from all harm.  If our treasure is in God, no one can take it from us."
`Interior Freedom, Jacques Phillipe

Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for the truth of who You are, and for calling us so clearly to be like You.  Please grant us prudence and wisdom for the relationships in our lives, especially those that are painful to us.  You know we are tempted to protect ourselves at all costs, and yet, You don't.  Help us to realize that our love for humanity must boil down to love of man, with all of his irritating faults and shortcomings.  Lord, thank you for loving us into existence and loving us just because.  Help us to imitate Your mercy, Your forgiveness, and Your love.  Please give us the grace to detach ourselves from our expectations of others, and to look only to You for our every need.  I love You.  Amen. 

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