March 12, 2020
Tonight we concluded homily 71 and began homily 72. Once again Isaac serves us solid food. He presents us with an image of humility and faith perhaps unlike anything that we have ever considered before and calls us not to allow it to become a dead letter but rather something that raises us up to the fullness of life and love. Can we let go of our worldly knowledge, our natural knowledge that comes through the senses and is shaped by the intellect and rather allow ourselves to comprehend what God reveals through and in faith? For it means allowing ourselves to become fools in the eyes of the world, to become like children, like infants, unable to communicate clearly but able to receive the love and protection that the Father offers us.
In this we are called to be like Christ himself, who in all things says “Thy will be done.” Can we entrust ourselves so radically to the providence of God that we lose all fear and anxiety and become aware of Him and Him alone – trusting that we are in His care and allow, as Isaac says, “Grace to hold us in the palm of her hand”?
Unless we live in this radical humility and faith we will have no inkling of the essence of God. But we will know instead is the distorted image of our own minds and imagination. Are we willing to receive the paltry alms that such a limited faith offers? Do we truly desire and ling for the Heavenly Bridegroom? Do we desire God as He is in Himself?
February 14, 2019
Tonight we continued our reading of homily 52. Saint Isaac begins to speak to us about the various degrees of knowledge and starts in particular with the knowledge that cleaves to the love of the body. Such a knowledge comes only through the senses and Saint Isaac calls it “common knowledge”; a knowledge that is naked of concern for God and sees the self as the sole source of providence. It is driven by a person’s concern and care for the things of this world and for their own safety and security. Every innovation and invention has its roots in anxiety and fear of losing what one possesses. Beyond this it leads to judgment of others as standing in opposition to what one desires. Everyone becomes a threat of one kind or another and one becomes driven to seek positions of emotional power in relationships and control. Faith, however, fosters humility and the true knowledge of our poverty as human beings and our need for God‘s grace and mercy. We are but dust and we must hold on to He who is the Lord of life and the governor of history. In God alone do we find peace.
January 24, 2019
Tonight we continued reading homily number 52. St Isaac begins to unpack for us the difference between worldly knowledge and the knowledge that comes through faith. Faith always transcends the world and lifts us up above the limits of nature. In many ways faith shakes knowledge to its foundations. With the eyes of faith we see that nothing is impossible and that even if we were stripped of everything in this world we still possess all. Those who cling to worldly knowledge are always filled with the kind of anxiety, seeking ways to protect themselves from reality or to protect what they possess. They seek to use every way and means to assure themselves of what it is that they see.
But faith is never vanquished by anything. What can human knowledge offer in the face of open conflict or war, in particular war against invisible beings? Faith offers us unspeakable wealth - the very riches of the kingdom itself. To turn away from faith is to fall into destitution, to freely return to a place of slavery. So often we cast aside the pearl of great price, sharing in the Sonship of Christ for the limited things of this world.
January 3, 2019
Tonight we began a new homily, Homily 52, where St. Isaac expounds upon the various degrees of knowledge and in particular the distinction between earthly knowledge and faith. He leads us down a path that is often difficult for people in their sin to understand - that knowledge and faith are opposed. Now this may seem rather extreme. But what St Isaac is trying to teach us is that earthly knowledge is always going to be confined by the very real limits of our intellect and understanding. It often arises out of and gives birth to anxiety; for earthly knowledge must always seek to control the realities that we face as human beings, to try to manipulate nature. Yet at the same time we know very well that we can never free ourselves from what frightens us the most; death, sickness and tragedy. We feel driven to work toward greater efficiency and authority over creation, but can never reach that end. Faith alone open our minds to the experience of God and His eternal love and compassion. It opens us up to the possibility of that which is not confined by the limits of this world. At the same time we are filled with the confidence in the providential love behind this that we are freed from fear and anxiety.