Trinity Sunday

Here’s a story that my pastor shared today, on Trinity Sunday.

There were two workers along the highway, following each other.  The first worker was digging a hole every 10 meters.  His colleague was following him and filling up the hole with the mud that had been previously removed.  A gentleman was watching this activity from the other side of the road.  He finally couldn’t deal with watching this any longer and crossed over.  He asked the workers, “Why do you dig holes and fill them? What’s the point of it all?”  The first worker replied, “my job is to dig the holes, so I do.”  The second worker said, “my job is to fill the holes and so I do what I am supposed to.  Normally when our third member is here he plants trees too.”

The Trinity is like the 3 member tree planting team.  You cannot separate the team and deal with just one or two, and be satisfied that it is done. You need all three who cannot be separated though they are distinct, thus we have God as one, and yet three in one, Trinity.

If you are interested in my previous thoughts on the Trinity I’ve covered it a couple times before.  I’ve used the idea of Trinity to explore partner dance, and as dance poetry.   I also have touched on the relational love that the Trinity represents when discussing how so often we lose the idea that faith and the Catholic Church is not about me (one), but us (the entire team), about the relational nature of love.

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The Gospel For Women

A master was visiting a house in the village.  Gathered around him were men and one woman, listening to him speak.  The woman’s sister was struggling to do what was necessary for all the guests, so she came over and spoke to the Master, asking if he did not care that her sister was not helping out.  The Master replied,

“[Y]ou are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. [X] has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her” Luke 10:41-42

In those days it was accepted that the Jewish men were disciples and sat around learning from the master. The woman’s role was home/family.  Here Jesus says that he wants women as his disciples too.  An equality for both men and women.  For the actual wording of the entire story read Luke 10:38-42.

The first person to learn about the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and share that news with the disciples?  A woman, Mary Magdalene.  There are quite a few instances throughout the gospel of Luke where we see significant interactions between women and Jesus Christ, contrary to the norms of the time.   And after the death of Jesus it was the heads of community who lead celebrations whether man/woman.  So, why is it different in the Catholic Church today where it is men who seem to be the leaders of the faith?

Roman Emperor Constantine  (272 – 337 AD), the first Christian emperor.  In making Christianity mainstream many of the prevailing Roman ways were adopted, including the roles of men as leaders and women as housewives.

The roles that men and women play is one of the polarizing topics in the Catholic Church today.  And change/if any in a faith that is built heavily on the twin pillars of tradition and scripture will be slow.  Yet, like all the problems facing the world today it is one person, a chosen person who can make significant change/difference.  In our modern times we have had people like Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, and Mother Theresa.  We had Abraham in Genesis from whose line was born the leaders of Jews and eventually Jesus Christ.  And today I see hope in Pope Francis.  A man who has set a dramatically differently tone from the first day of taking office.  In listening to what Pope Francis says I have hope that no matter the outcome there will be greater understanding and true communication within and without the church. 

   

 

For Me? With Me? Against Me?

“For whoever is not against us is with us.” Mark 9:40

vs

” Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.”  Mathew 12:30

Anyone else see the contradiction?

This past Sunday I heard the parable about the apostles of Jesus Christ trying to stop a person – whom they did not consider one of them – from casting out demons in the name of Jesus.   Jesus rebukes them saying if a person is not against him then he belongs (Mark 9:40).  It speaks of “an inclusive welcoming church”, one that reminds me of the progressive liberal period with Pope John Paul II as the head.  I immediately thought of how  I sometimes feel that this different from where the church is heading under Pope Benedict XVI.

But, then one can also find a Bible quote to support what some see as the different “unequivocal you must toe this line or else” voice of the church under the current Pope, Benedict XVI.  In the gospel of Mathew, the Pharisees state that since Jesus cured a demoniac he must be an agent of the Devil. Jesus rebukes them and warns them that one cannot remain neutral.  You have to be either for or against him (Mark:12:30).

It is easy to find Bible quotes that support a point of view of the Catholic Church one thinks one wants.

In the parable of seeking to exclude in Mark’s gospel there is an ambivalence associated with the demon caster, but in the gospel of Mathew we have Jesus responding to those who are bitterly opposed to him.  In the first he speaks of growing the church; in the second of the divisions within, saying, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be laid to waste, and no town or house divided against itself will stand (Mathew 12:25).”

As in the Bible, both responses of Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI are to what they see as the context of the situation, and are not necessarily about “me”.  It is not about the church being for/with/against “me” – it is God’s Church.  Through both stories run what I see as a common thread: Jesus and Love.  And after all isn’t that what it is all about?

All too of often we respond to our situations and lives from just a “me” perspective.  We respond divisively. I pray that we have the grace to understand the greatest gift of all: the relational nature of LOVE. After all, the Christian Creation story is that at the beginning God created man and woman – not man, or woman.*

 

*I can further explore the relational nature of love through the dogma of the trinity – three persons in one God – that is part of the Catholic Church Catechism.  If you are interested you can start by quickly skimming the introductory paragraphs in wikipedia’s entry on the Trinity.