I’ve just started a book
I’ve been wanting to read for several years now. . .
it’s written by the
great Russian author Fyodor Dostoevsky. . .
it’s one of his masterpieces.
The novel’s title. . .
The Idiot. (published in 1869)
And in The Idiot,
Dostoevsky brings to life
a saintly. . .Christ-like figure. . .
a truly beautiful soul. . .
named Prince Myshkin.
The publisher of the edition I’m reading,
even put a famous picture of Jesus
on the cover
to emphasize the connection.
In the novel, Prince Myshkin is described like this:
“I have never in my life met a man like him. . .
for noble simplicity. . .
and boundless trustfulness.
I understood from the way he talked
that anyone who chose. . .
could deceive him. . .
and afterwards—he would forgive anyone
[even after they] had deceived him. . .
and that is why I grew to love him.”
Noble simplicity. . .
Boundless trustfulness. . .
Anyone could deceive him. . .
And he would forgive them all.
And as the story of the
Christ-like figure plays out. . .
in a world obsessed with money. . .
and power. . .
and domination. . .
and violence. . .
and manipulation. . .
and exploitation. . .
and self-interest. . .
this world just doesn’t know
what to do with such a figure. . .
so the world sees him and treats him. . .as. . .
how very difficult it was
to bring such a soul to life because. . .
and I quote. . .
“beauty is the ideal,
and neither my country [Russia],
nor civilized Europe,
know what the ideal of beauty is.”
perhaps the greatest of all human tragedies
is the inability to recognize true human beauty.
And when one loses the notion of true human beauty. . .
one can so easily miss the wonderful beauty of the Cross. . .
one can so easily miss the wonderful beauty of
the Crucified Christ. . .
and the Cross becomes idiotic. . .
and the Crucified Christ becomes. . .
well. . .
He becomes an idiot.
How can we describe the true human beauty
of Jesus Christ???
We can go to Suffering Servant Songs
in the Prophet Isaiah.
Those four songs prophesy about the
Suffering Servant of God
who would save humanity.
Early Christians immediately recognized that
it was Jesus who is the Suffering Servant of God
mentioned in the Old Testament.
And what’s even more exciting. . .
and revealing. . .
is the reason the early Christians so
readily saw Jesus as the Suffering Servant of God. . .
was that Jesus identifies Himself
as the Suffering Servant.
the Suffering Servant is Jesus.
We just heard one of these prophetic songs. . .
So marred was his look
beyond human semblance. . .
startling is his appearance.
He was spurned and avoided by people,
a man of suffering. . .
one of those from whom people hide their faces,
spurned and we held him in no esteem. . .
[He was] like a sheep led to slaughter. . .
Can you see the Crucified Jesus
hanging from the Cross?
A world that doesn’t recognize true human beauty. . .
just doesn’t know
what to do with someone like Jesus. . .
He becomes a sheep led to slaughter.
And these Suffering Servant Songs
describe to us what true human beauty looks like. . .
they describe Jesus.. . .
Here are some excerpts:
Yet it was our infirmities that he bore,
our sufferings that he endured. . .
He was pierced for our offenses . . .
By his stripes we were healed
crushed for our sins. . .
Ah, true human beauty has
nothing to do with self-interest. . .
has nothing to do with manipulation. . .
or exploitation. . .
or dominance of the other!
No, true human beauty looks like
self-sacrificial love for the other. . .
Even to the point of suffering. . .
for the other.
Always for the other.
The Suffering Servant
does not crying out. . .
does not shout. . .
does not make his voice heard in the street
And He was harshly treated. . .
but he submitted. . .
He was silent. . .
He gave his back to those who beat him. . .
His cheeks to those who plucked his beard. . .
His face he did not shield from buffets and spitting.
Ah, true human beauty is non-violent. . .
even in the face of violence!!!
True Human beauty doesn’t strike back!!!
No, true human beauty stuns
with loving back. . .
True human beauty stuns
with mercy and forgiveness.
And all this beauty. . .
The self-sacrifice. . .
the love. . .
and the mercy. . .
and the forgiveness. . .
for the other. . .
it’s redemptive. . .
That’s what brings justice to the nations.
The Suffering Servant. . .
a bruised reed he will not break. . .
and smoldering wick. . .
he shall not quench.
What is true human beauty?
When the other is down for the count. . .
When the other is wounded and hurt. . .
True human beauty is gentle. . .
True human beauty is a force of healing.
And the Suffering Servant. . .
He was a servant from the womb. . .
A Servant from God. . .
So true human beauty is about being a servant. . .
like we heard and saw
last night at the Mass of the Lord’s Supper. . .
True human beauty washes dirty feet.
So my brothers and Sisters is Christ. . .
when we venerate the Cross in just a few minutes. . .
We’re venerating true human beauty!!!
Beauty not defined by the world. . .
but by God!!!
So much of the world
sees the Cross as idiotic . . .
and sees Jesus as an idiot. . .
because it goes beyond human logic. . .
God’s ways are so often not our ways. . .
It’s the Suffering Servant who
moves the world in the direction of God. . .
it’s the Suffering Servant
with whom God is well pleased. . .
who is made glorious in the sight of the Lord.
It’s the suffering Servant who God chose
to open the eyes of the blind. . .
It’s the Suffering Servant
who brings prisoners from confinement and
from the dungeon. . .
It is the Suffering Servant
who brings light to the nations. . .
and salvation to the ends of the earth.
And what’s also so exciting and hopeful for us. . .
is that God desires nothing more
than for us to be beautiful. . .
beautiful souls in the eyes of God. . .
God is not stingy when it comes to human beauty. . .
God freely gives the grace to transform us
to into greater and greater human beauty. . .
in the image and likeness of God. . .
in the image and likeness of Jesus.
All we have to do is to accept that grace. . .
and cooperate with it. . .
as Jesus says,
pick up your Cross and follow me. . .
follow Jesus in the ways of true human beauty.
Holy Spirit 04/02/2021