Bishop Martin - The Progress of a Soul in the Beyond

- Chapter 21 -

(Bishop Martin): "It would be quite alright to love God above all else, and your neighbor as yourself, if only one knew how to do it. For shouldn't God be loved with the purest love, which most likely applies also to the love of your neighbor; but how can we awaken such a love in ourselves?
I am familiar with the feeling of friendship and with love for women. I also know the selfish love of children for their parents. But parental love I do not know. The love of God could not possibly be like any of these types of love, which, being directed toward other creatures, are based on self-interest.
I even claim that man, as God's creature, is incapable of loving his Creator. This might be possible only with absolute divine freedom, which maybe the archangels enjoy. But man finds himself only on the lowest spiritual level, far removed from God's holiness and absolute divine freedom.
God should be satisfied to be loved by His creatures as they love each other; as children love their parents, or as a young man loves his girl, or as one brother loves another; or also as a poor man loves his unselfish benefactor, or a ruler his throne, or like every man loves himself.
But for such love, there is no object - not even the ability to visualize such a sublime object. What does God look like? What man has ever set eyes on God? Who has spoken to Him? How is it possible to love a being which you cannot even imagine? A being which is not even known historically, only mythically, with poetical embellishments interspersed with ideas from the severe ancient Hebrew moral code."
(Now I speak): "Friend, with this absurd rubbish, you couldn't even cleanse a single thread of your filthy garment! You had plenty of objects in the world. There were the many poor, the widows, orphans, and countless other needy people. Why did you not love them although you had plenty of love for yourself?
You loved your own parents only for the sake of their gifts to you. And if you thought they had not given you enough, you wished they would die so that you could inherit from them.
You loved your subordinate priests if they supplied you with rich sacrifices; if the latter stopped coming in, you became their relentless tyrant.
You blessed the rich sheep who sacrificed abundantly, whilst the poor were threatened with hell.
You loved the widows well enough if they were young, pretty and rich, and willing to please you; and the same applied to the well-developed orphan girls between the ages of sixteen and twenty years.
With a love toward these types of objects it is, naturally, impossible to exalt oneself in contemplation and love of the supreme and most lovable object.
Since the Gospel, the most sublime teaching of Jesus the Christ, was the main subject in your education, why didn't you at least once in your lifetime try to practice even one of the texts in order to find out who inspired it?
Is it not written, 'He that hath My commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me and I will manifest Myself to him.*?
If you had tried out in practice but one of the texts, you would soon have convinced yourself that this teaching is of God and, besides, God's objectivity would have become imaginable as it has become to many thousands of simpler people than you are.
It is further written: 'Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.' Did you ever do any of these?
As you never tried any of these, you could not possibly acquire a spiritual image of God. Therefore, it is absurd of you to say you cannot love God because He has never become an object for you; whilst this would have happened if you had done anything at all towards this aim.
Tell me, what image of God could your impure love have evoked that might have drawn some sparks from your hardened heart? You are silent, but I will describe it for you.
God would either have to be a beautiful female, or endow you with the greatest possible power and glory, and besides, allow you to sleep with the most beautiful maidens without your virility ever lessening. He would have to allow you everything your imagination might consider enjoyable, even pass His divine nature to you, so that you could use the universe for your own pleasure.
Such a God you might find lovable, but the image of a poor crucified Jesus would make the concept of divinity unbearable, even contemptible for you.
No wonder that, under these circumstances, you have to ask how God can be loved with pure, worthy love. The reason is obvious: you never wanted to apprehend God and, consequently, love Him! You were afraid a better spirit might take possession of you and guide you to meekness, love of your neighbor, and eventually, to true cognition and love of God.
This is the actual reason why you have asked how God could and should be loved. But since you do not love your brothers whom you see and still do not want to love, how could you love God Whom you do not see and do not want to see?
We two are now your best friends and brothers, but in your heart you continuously despise us, although we want to help you. Therefore, change your heart! Begin with loving your benefactors and you will find the way to the heart of God without your stupid philosophy. So be it!"
(Bishop Martin): "Oh, yes, you are quite right, and I do love and respect both of you very much, in your wisdom, your strength, love, patience, and perseverance. But if you, my dearest friend, wouldn't keep reminding me of my accursedness, stressing its severity, I would love you far more deeply. However, the penetrating sharpness of your words fills me with fear rather than with love for you and your friend, Peter. Let your words be more considerate, and I shall love you with all my heart."
(Say I): "Friend, what do you expect of Me? Do you consider a flatterer a true friend, one who is afraid to tell the truth to somebody's face? You deceive yourself!
There is not a good word to be said for you! Not one noble deed of love on your part! If ever you did something that appeared noble to the world, it was really evil. For all your actions were just policy hiding some secret tyrannical scheme.
Of any occasional miserly charity, just about the whole world had to be notified. Is that in accordance with the Gospel which teaches that the right hand should not know what the left is doing?
When you gave somebody advice in your capacity as a cleric, there would always be some profit for you in it.
When you appeared affable, it was meant to show all around you how high you actually were.
When your voice sounded mild, you merely sought to achieve what the sirens did with their songs or the hyenas with their cries. You were always a greedy beast of prey!
In short, there was no redeeming feature about you, and you were practically already over head and ears in hell. But the Lord had mercy with you, took hold of you, and wants to free you from the shackles of hell. Do you really think this could be possible without showing you what you are like?
Or have you never seen what a watchmaker on earth does with a watch that is out of order? He takes it apart, examines and cleans every one of its parts carefully, straightens out what is bent, files where necessary, adds what might be missing, and then puts the whole movement together again. Could a watchmaker make a faulty watch go if he just polished it on the outside but left the movement as it was?
You are like a watch movement which is completely out of order; and you can only be bettered if your corrupt nature is completely dissected. Everything has to be exposed to the light of eternal incorruptible truth so that you might have a good look at yourself and see everything that is totally corrupt within you.
Only after you have recognized all your faults, can work be commenced to once more make of you a man in accordance with the order of God. But it must be a completely new man, for your present one is absolutely useless!
Since I am doing all this for you, don't I deserve your love?"