Saturday, 9 March 2013

A selfless faith

The 14th conversation takes us, I think, back on track. Fr. Tischner and Jacek Żakowski are discussing the future of Christianity. Fr. Tischner is optimistic; for him, all the dead-ends on the road to God have been exhausted in the first two millennia. "Only the straight road remains."

Żakowski suggests that abandoning worship of an absolute (which entails different intepretations that lead to murder and massacre), we should not instead focus on the matters of day-to-day life.

Fr. Tischner suggests that misunderstandings stem from what it is that we ask for from God. "God loves us selflessly. And we? We love Him in a selfish way; and this distorts our image of God. It's not when we turn to God and ask of him for life everlasting for ourselves. It's when we pray to God to help overcome our enemies or rule over others. When you approach God to help you tread your neighbour down into the mud. Then God turns his back on you."

Żakowski turns this around: "Are you saying that God brought you into this world so that you could  bother Him with your petty problems; requests for money, for weapons against your neighbours, for a bowl of manna from heaven - only so that you could be put to the test, to prove that you are worthy of life eternal?"

"So that you'd pass the test of love!" replies Fr. Tischner. "How many times, in the history of Christianity, have people sought help from God in order to have power over others?"

"So - two thousand years after the birth of Christ, our mentality is still basically the same as the mentality of pre-Christian Greeks?" asks Żakowski. "When God fulfils people's requests, it turns out they are still far from happiness."

"There's a one-word answer - selflessness. Just as God loves us magnanimously, so we must love God magnanimously," replies Fr. Tischner.

"So - don't bother asking Him for anything?" retorts Żakowski.

"Sometimes you should ask. If you love someone, you're not afraid of asking."

"But if someone loves you - and you say that God loves us - then that person doesn't wait until you have to ask."

"But there's something deeper in real magnanimity. Magnanimity loves because you are. That you are as you are. And we, engaged in the endless games we play, have untaught ourselves selflessness, says Fr. Tischner. He concludes with the words of St John the Evangelist: "And if your heart is to blame, know that God is greater than your heart and knows everything."

Though the meaning of that quote is lost on me, I get the drift, the sense of what Fr. Tischner is trying to say, and agree with it within my own spiritual experience. As I've written here and here, I have the habit of praying - talking to God - twice a day, while washing my teeth. It begins with a simple act of giving thanks for my health, then praying for the health of those close to me. Gratitude should be the starting point for dialogue with God. And God will not grant you the lottery win you pray for, nor the big, black SUV with darkened rear windows. Destroying your enemy is another prayer that God will not make come true - you should have no enemies.

But those basic things you need in life to move forward, from zero towards one, God will grant you - if you pray for them.

This time last year:
Ul. Profesorska after the remont

This time two years ago:
Lent kicks off again, for the 20th year in a row for me

This time three years ago:
Half way through Lent

This time five years ago:
Spring much closer

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