TRINITY SUNDAY – A 20
“There are two things which kill the soul, “wrote St. Augustine, “despair and presumption.” Despair takes command when hope is jettisoned and when we give up on God. Presumption is more typically a characteristic of atheism, the conviction that we have no need of God, and are quite capable of going it alone.
Those of faith do not despair. Secularists do. When difficulties and sufferings come, those of faith can look to God for comfort. Secularists have only themselves to look to. The Father sent his only begotten Son to us. He did not cling to the fact that he was God, but he emptied himself and became one of us, even to death. He knew firsthand all that we suffer. And he used his own suffering to redeem us from our sins and invited us to use our own suffering without despair but with hope that no matter what we suffer here on earth, “eye has not seen, ear has not heard, nor has it entered into the mind of man, what God has prepared for those who love him.”
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo told us that the N. Y. coronavirus numbers were getting better. He made sure God got none of the credit, however. “The number is down,” he said, “because we brought the number down. God did not do that. Faith did not do that.” Bishop Robert Barron responded to the Governor’s remarks. Bishop Barron was rightly confident that many of those who heroically helped the numbers go down were motivated by their faith in God. They were motivated by Christ who gave himself on the cross out of love for us. Jesus said, “Love one another as I have loved you.” And that is what they did. God, therefore, had a large part in bringing the numbers down.
One of the most important things in the spiritual life is to understand well the intimate relations between love and sacrifice. Love is not a perpetual feast that is unalloyed joy. The eternal symbol of love on this earth is the cross of Christ. To be united with Love, we must be nailed with Christ to the cross itself. It is there that we find the path to sanctity. Sorrow accompanies love in all its stages. Christ was a man of sorrows. Mary was a woman of sorrows. The suffering of sorrows exponentially multiplies the power of love.
When even a single being whom we have loved is taken away from us, it seems that our whole world is lost. The losses during the corona virus pandemic are not to be underestimated. And yet we must look beyond death to eternity. St. Paul said “…I… consider everything as a loss because of the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have accepted the loss of all things and I consider them so much rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him… depending on faith to know him and the power of his resurrection and [the] sharing of his sufferings if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.”
It is, therefore, in mortifying ourselves of all that time and this world have to offer that we enter into that resurrection beginning now. Victorious and awe inspiring, sacrificial love passes into our whole being, from our external senses to our highest spiritual faculties, from our gross flesh that makes us akin with the brutes, to that mysterious center of our soul, which makes us akin with God, since there it is that the immaterial and splendid image of the Trinity shines forth.
Love is insatiable. It is satisfied only with the infinite, satisfied only when it is possessed in that most perfect manner that is proper to Heaven. In the degree that anyone possesses God, he desires Him more; and the more intimate the union, the more terrible is the martyrdom which desire for God causes and the more beautiful the reward. If we hunger for the Eucharist, which we do, we hunger for martyrdom, not necessarily the giving up of our lives, but the daily mortifications that detach us from this world and empty our souls of ourselves so that God may fill them.
Love’s law is to establish a certain equality, a certain loving balance between those who love. Love, therefore, demands that there be an exchange of gifts, a mutual bestowing, a love for love. ln the love of God, a disequilibrium is inevitable, for how can we creatures, poor and finite, compete in intensity with an infinite love? Yet in participating in Jesus’ own sorrow, we are in some limited human way giving our love—small “l” / to Jesus who is Love—capital “L” Love itself and He accepts it in his graciousness as worthy of Himself.
Science still has not figured out the cause of the pandemic of 1917 called the Spanish flu. So, although, great scientists have given their all to discovering the cause of this present disease, the corona virus, in the hope of saving as many that could be saved, we must place our hope in something and Someone beyond science. Technology today has made unbelievable progress, if used rightly, in making life better but there is no utopia here on earth where all ills are conquered.
We are therefore skeptical about a drug company’s ad which reads “At a time when things are most uncertain, we turn to the most certain thing there is: science.” Oh, really! This was said in celebration of the efforts they were making to develop treatments and a vaccine for Covid-19. We are of course grateful for their efforts and we pray that they succeed. But worshipping science as the most certain thing there is, is a whole other story. We risk bestowing on it an independent moral force it cannot provide. Science itself, has at times immorally used its efforts against humanity. Humanity itself has also used technology against itself. Man’s inhumanity to man.
It is perhaps symbolic that our churches are reopened on Trinity Sunday. We cannot explain the Trinity. At a time when we are saddened that we cannot explain the mystery of this pandemic, we should be joyful that there is another unexplainable mystery that bestows upon us, not great sadness, but great joy: the mystery of the Trinity.
At the Last Supper, Christ prays, as John in his gospel records, “not only for them [his apostles] but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us.” In some mysterious way beyond our understanding, we were created to participate in the communion of love that is the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. That they may be one in us. That we may be one in them.
Christ became human so that we might become divine. God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in heaven will treat us as equals even though we are not. We will know God as we are known by Him. All the finite sorrows that we suffer here on earth are put into proper perspective when we consider the infinite joys of living for all eternity in the love of the Trinity.
Fr. H. James Hutchins