Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

Ave Maria!
Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost AD 2018

"The Lord said to my Lord, sit thou at my right hand till I make thine enemies thy footstool….
Before the daystar, like the dew, I have begotten thee….
Thou art a priest forever according to the order of Melchisedech."1

    As Catholics we know that there are certain truths which we must hold that we will never completely understand. We refer to them as the "mysteries" of our Faith. These "mysteries" are not illogical, nor are they in any way contradictory -- they are simply beyond our examination and comprehension. At least in this life time, we will never fully understand the concept that there is one God in a Trinity of divine persons. We have no way to investigate this truth beyond whatever God has chosen to reveal to us in the Scriptures -- and it may be that we are simply incapable of understanding the concept with our finite human minds. (Perhaps even more difficult to comprehend than visualizing five dimensional geometric shapes.)

    But mere difficulty has never stopped human beings from speculating. Man has always tried to comprehend the unfamiliar in terms of the familiar; the difficult in terms of the simple. Perhaps the Trinity is like a shamrock, as Saint Patrick mused. Or perhaps like a blanket folded in three, as Saint Joseph of Cupertino suggested.

    Saint Augustine took it a step further, in a way that is germane to appreciating today's Gospel. He spoke of divine activity taking place before the creation of space and before the beginning of time. Alone in absolute isolation, God had only Himself to know (for nothing else as yet existed). In His thought of Himself, He perceived His own essence, what we are given to call the "logos," or the "Word" in English. But God's thoughts are so powerful, the stuff of all existence, that His knowledge of Himself goes far beyond the mere thoughts of men, having an actual reality in Itself. For Augustine, this existing Word of God is the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, begotten of the Father before all ages.

    Still before creation and time, the Father and the Son are aware of each other. Their mutual love for each other gave rise to yet another actual reality. For, far beyond the romantic thoughts of men, the love of God is powerful and creative. Thus Augustine explains the "procession" or "spiration" of the Holy Ghost. It is an interesting theory, and perhaps in some way he approaches the truth of this un-resolvable mystery.

    Some carry his theory a bit farther yet, explaining all of creation in a similar way. Perhaps, God's urge to create the universe is a sort of "explosion" or "over-flowing" of His love. Perhaps the desire to share His own happiness caused Him to create creatures sharing His own rationality; angels, and later men and women, with the same abilities to know and to love.

    Again, we will never know just how close this theory comes to reality -- at least not in this life time. Yet, so much of what we know about God and His creation does seem to point to this idea. "God is love," Saint John tells us, "and He who abides in love abides in God, and God in him." If we look at the Commandments given to us by God, we see that they are the "Manufacturer's instructions" for His creatures. We could know those Commandments, even if Moses never went up Mount Sinai to receive them on stone tablets, for God has written them on the tablets of our hearts. How do we know them? We know them through thousands of years of experience: life on earth just doesn't work properly when those Commandments are violated. Men must love one another, for life will not work in a society where people are cheating, beating, and lying to one another. A society that accepts institutionalized violence and untruth simply cannot function efficiently. We must love one another.

    But loving one another often seems like a pretty "tall order." Perhaps we manage to love a husband or a wife; a father or a mother; a few children. But few of us are capable of more. We all know that we do things ourselves that are not all that loveable. And when we see those same or similar faults in others, they become down-right hateful!

    Perhaps that is why the first three Commandments remind us of our responsibilities toward God; to honor Him to the exclusion of any other "god" -- even to the exclusion of earthly things when they threaten to become our false "gods." Perhaps we are bidden to consider the things of God before we consider the things of man, precisely because we are capable of, or even made especially for, the love of God. That wouldn't be too surprising, if we were, in fact, created because of God's love, and God's desire to share that love.

    "Whose Son is the Christ?" asks our Lord. The Pharisees give the obvious answer -- at least as they know history, the Messias will be a descendant of King David, a great king in Israel who will lead them to vanquish all their enemies. But our Lord gives an answer that makes sense only with the understanding of the Trinity that exists before all time. "The Lord said to my Lord…." Those are David's words, universally understood by educated Jews to refer to the Christ, and David has the Lord speaking to his Lord, God the Father speaking to His Son: "before the daystar I have begotten You."

    Perhaps it is significant that our Lord reminds the Pharisees of these words of King David in this very context. The great Commandments of the Law are first the love of God, with the entirety of heart, mind, soul, and body; and then the love of neighbor as thyself, precisely because one loves God. The love of the Father and the Son, the explosive outpouring of God's love in creation, are the model for man's behavior on earth.

    The world has known other religions, without Christ and the Triune God. Some are barely more than philosophies or schools of thought, having justice and peace through an intellectual system, but no love, and no great enthusiasm. Some have a whole number of "gods," some of them quite war-like and hateful.

    The Jew had the Mosaic Law, and with it he could please God in a servile way. He had a measure of justice and peace, and even harmony within his tribe. But he lacked the example of love afforded by the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. The Moslem would come along a few centuries after Christ, only to deny the Lord's divinity, and to sentence himself to a history that has never known peace, which, indeed, as we have seen, positively glorys in war against those who do believe.

    A few weeks ago we heard Saint Paul tell the Galatians about the fruits of the Holy Ghost: "charity, joy, peace, patience," and so on, which are enjoyed by those who "belong to Christ." The alternative he presents dooms its followers to Jealousy, anger, quarrels, enmities, contention, murders, and suchlike."2 Hopefully, today we understand what he is saying a little bit better, as he reminds us (together with the Ephesians) that only in the Faith of Jesus Christ, bearing with each other in humility, meekness, patience, and love do we preserve the unity of the Holy Ghost -- only in the one Lord, the one Faith, in the one Baptism do we possess the one Lord and Father of all.3

He is telling us about that explosive outpouring of love that is God's creation; reiterating the words of Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of David's Lord, to love God with our entire being, and to love our neighbors as ourselves -- if not for their own good qualities, then, at least for the love of God.

1.     Psalm cix.

2.     14th Sunday after Pentecost; Epistle: Galatians v: 16-24.

3.   Epistle: Ephesians iv: 1-6.


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