Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Four Hundred Chapters on Love (Chapter 139) by Maximus the Confessor / Works of Love

Maximus the Confessor

If this title looks familiar, it's because I've posted about a previous chapter in this book, Chapter 31. Since I gave you a brief biography in the previous post, feel free to check back there or see Maximus the Confessor. One tidbit I thought I'd add this time is that his title, "The Confessor", was bestowed because he suffered for the faith but was not martyred. I've been slowly working my way through his writings, and I hope to provide you with a few more entries from him.

The Four Hundred Chapters on Love, Chapter 139

St. Francis Kneeling Before the Crucifix
by El Greco
"The one who has come to understand the weakness of human nature has had experience of the divine power, and such a person who because of it has succeeded in some things and is eager to succeed in others never looks down on anyone. For he knows that in the same way that God has helped him and freed him from many passions and hardships, so can he help everyone when he wishes, especially those who are striving for his sake. Although for his own reasons he does not deliver all from their passions right away, still as a good and loving physician he heals in his own good time each one of those who are striving."


Maximus teaches here that our dependence on God creates compassion in us. When we understand our own weakness, truly understand it, then we appreciate God's divine power. I say appreciate, because I don't think Maximus means that God only starts to work when we appreciate our own poverty. Instead, Maximus is saying that we come to know and appreciate God's power when we recognize our own weakness. This dual recognition develops our patience and compassion.


God knew that I needed to read this passage this week. When I fail to recognize my own weakness and my own dependence, then I'm not only acting in ignorance, but I'm also failing those around me. When I recognize the gap between God and me, I can graciously respond to other people's failures.


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