Friday, May 17, 2013

High and Low (Homily 53)

"For thus says the high and lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: I dwell in the high and holy place with him who is of a humble and contrite spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble and to revive the heart of the contrite ones. [...] But the wicked are like the troubled sea when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. There is no peace...for the wicked." Is. 57:15-21

God is the High and Holy One: His very nature is "other than" ours. He is categorically distinct and separate, sui generis. He dwells in a high and holy place, i.e., a mountain, the traditional symbol for the dwelling of divinity (from Olympus to Zion). God is above; He reached to the tops of the clouds. God is great; His size is sublime, stretching beyond the limits of our comprehension. "Beyond" is the only word for Him, for He surpasses us in ways we have neither scale nor system to measure.

Yet who dwells with Him? Who also stands on His mountaintop? Who also abides in His holy hill? The humble, the contrite, the lowest of the low. Brought lower by their own abasement, yet brought higher by the surprising love of God, for His love too is beyond us, sublime and measureless and strong. This High and Holy Beyonder loves the broken (Ps. 51:17; Is. 66:2) and takes pity on we fragile children of dust (Ps. 103:13-14), raising us up to heavenly places in Christ (Eph. 2:4-7), setting our feet on the rock, the immovable mountain, that is our God (Ps. 18:31). This too is "beyond" us, exceedingly overflowing what the cup of our mind can hold.

Can you see why there is no peace for the wicked? No peace for those outside of God and His Christ? For what can be more opposite to a mountain than the sea? The one is high, glorious, unmovable, and stable; the other low, treacherous, mutable, and fluid. To the one, storms can only hang about it like a cape or a crown, only adding to its majesty. To the other, storms are their master. Impotent before them, they have no choice but to be whipped and whorled and blown about, unstable in all their ways, broiling and spewing and foaming all of their hidden substance to the surface, bringing to light their true character and quality. The sea has not the strength to be at peace, but the mountain has strength and that to spare. It is the inheritance of the saints of God: you who are established upon the mountain shall never be moved  (Ps. 15:1-5), for the mountain shall never be moved (Rev. 1:8). But for all those who stay outside, I can only give you this: you will lie down in the midst of the sea and have no peace while you drown.

-Jon Vowell (c) 2013

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful homily. It is worthy of being revisited many times. Thank you.