June 12, 2022
Dr. Mortimer Adler was the originator of the 54 volume series entitled Great Books of the Western World. He also was the creative force behind one of the editions of The Encyclopedia Britannica. A number of years ago he was being interviewed by television’s Bill Moyers. Moyers asked this highly respected intellectual point-blank, “ Do you believe in God? “ Perhaps to the surprised of many Dr. Adler said: “ In the last years, I have become convinced that I had found reasonable grounds for affirming God’s existence.” Moyer then asked him if human reason could tell us much about such a God. Adler answered: “ Reason alone can’t make the bridge from an infinite supreme being…to a being that cares for us.” In other words, Dr. Adler said that reason can tell us that there is a God, but can’t tell us much about God.
To learn some things which reason cannot tell us about God, we need to consult Revelation. What is Revelation? Revelation are those things about God which God Himself has revealed to the human race; those truths, so revealed, cannot be concluded to through human reasoning alone; they have to be told to us. It takes faith to believe in the components of Revelation, because it is not something we can conclude to on our own. Christianity and Judaism, before it, are religions of Revelation, that is, we believe that God has told us certain truths we can never know based upon our reasoning powers.
One of the most abstruse truths which God has revealed to us is that of the Trinity. God throughout the centuries of Jewish History told the human race bits of truth about who He was. As God revealed these truths to the human race our notions of God and God’s intentions for the world became clearer, but it can never be said that in all the things God told us through revelation that we ever came to a complete understanding of God. We just advanced a little more in our limited understanding. God, even in heaven, will always be a transcendent mystery to us. In God’s telling us bits of truth through revelation, he merely opened some doors , but when we look through those doors, we see that there are a number of doors beyond that door. After God had told the Jewish prophets much about which he wanted us to know about him, he sent his eternal Son to reveal even more about God. Jesus, himself, told us things about God which had never been known. It was Jesus who spoke to us of three manifestations of God. He clearly spoke about God the Father and distinguished his own person from that of the Father, yet claimed: the Father and I are one.” He spoke of the coming of the Holy Spirit which he clearly differentiated from the Father and Himself. Jesus, himself, never used the word “ Trinity” . That was a word which the church coined to give a name to this doctrine taught by Jesus and clearly taught by the Apostles and the early church. You won’t find the word Trinity in the bible, but you will find the ideas that God is one yet of three distinct persons.
The doctrine revealed by Jesus is that the Father is truly God; the Son is truly God; the Holy spirit is truly God, but there are not three Gods; there is only one God. St. Ignatius of Loyola used the example of three musical notes of a chord played simultaneously. There are three notes, but the notes form one sound.
There are many truths about God which he has never revealed, and , as I said, there are many truths about God which we will never comprehend or know even in heaven, but God wanted us to know the truths of the Trinity, even if we have a hard time grappling with it.
Try in your prayers to approach God in each of the ways in which He has been revealed to us. Approach and think of God as the creator of all that is, as the Father of all that is. Approach and think of God as truly a brother to whom we can relate because, through God, he is also as human as we are. Approach God as the one who is now among us, feeding our faith and leading the entire flow of the history of the world to its God designated destiny. This is one way of incorporating this revealed mystery of God into our daily lives.
On this Sunday our Church holds up to us this great mystery of God. She asks us to believe in this central Christian mystery even if we do not understand all the elements of it. Let every prayer we utter be done acknowledging the reality of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit in our lives, and let all things which we do be done in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit even if we do not understand every aspect of revealed doctrine given to us by Jesus himself.
April 24, 2022
2nd SUNDAY OF EASTER
One of the astounding transitions in the New Testament Scriptures is the transition which took place in the lives of the Apostles after they experienced the Resurrection of the Lord. At the time of Jesus’ arrest all of them had abandoned him-- ran away --except for John who stayed and was present at the foot of the cross. The manifestations of the Risen Lord as recounted to us in the gospels and elsewhere in the New Testament highly transformed the Apostles from being largely a band of cowards into becoming bold men as witnesses to Christ’s Resurrection. We will hear of these transitions in the many readings which will be presented to us on Sundays and weekdays of the Easter season. We hear of one of the transitions in our first reading of today. It tells us of the bold activity of the Apostles in being very present in an environment which was threatening to them, to say the least, yet they boldly imposed themselves into the populace and did some marvelous things such as are recounted in our reading for today. The Apostles cured the sick just as the Lord Jesus had done in his lifetime. People not only from Jerusalem but from the outlying vicinity brought their sick to the Apostles and a great number of healings took place through the power of God passing through the Apostles. This caused the number of believers and followers of Jesus to increase in great measure --as the reading tells us. The remarkable transition in the Apostles from being terrified for their own lives as the Lord was arrested into becoming bold proclaimers and witnesses of his Resurrection is often offered as an indication that the Resurrection indeed happened or the Apostles would never have become so courageous as to proudly and boldly proclaim its authenticity.
We see a transition also in the life of the Apostle Thomas in our gospel. Thomas who had not been present when the Lord appeared to the other ten on Easter Sunday night went from doubter to believer. Thomas, in many respects, shares in the skepticism of anyone who needs to see proof that a claim, especially such a stupendous claim, be verified. People, especially in our times demand proof, empirical proof, that a claim made by another is authentic before they will put credence in it. On hearing the testimony from his colleagues that they had actually seen Jesus the Risen Lord, Thomas smugly proclaimed, “UnlessI see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nail marks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe!” We hear in our gospel of today that a week later, (and today is exactly a week later from the Day we celebrated the Lord’s Resurrection.) the Lord again came among the gathered Apostles, this time Thomas being present. This is why we are presented with this gospel today because Thomas’ transition took place one week after the Resurrection. At that time, the Lord then gave Thomas a gift the rest of us have not yet received: empirical proof that He has indeed risen from the dead. Thomas, upon receiving this gift, utters the words “ My Lord and my God “ which indicate certainty in a belief he defiantly refused to believe in prior times. From that time on, Thomas was radically convinced that the Resurrection was real, so much so, that he later gave his life for Christ in a land far from the Holy Land, India. There is a section in India, Kerala, which is largely Catholic and whose present-day inhabitants claim that the Christian faith came to their region through the testimony of Thomas the Apostle.
After revealing himself to Thomas, the Lord said to Thomas, “ Have you come to believe in me only because you have seen me? Blessed are they who have not seen and yet believe. “ And, happily and hopefully, that includes all of us here assembled and over two billion other people in our world today who have never seen what Thomas got to see, hear, or touch. Why is it that we, who have never had the extraordinary experience which Thomas had, have the ability to believe in the resurrected Lord? Because the Holy Spirit furnishes for us faith that Jesus is indeed risen. Ask the Lord to continuously fortify your belief in the resurrected Lord so that in spite of all the uncertainties which life imposes, you will continue to believe until that time when you pass from this life to the next and you, too, will see Jesus face to face and will be given empirical proof, much greater than what Thomas was given in our gospel, that your belief was authentic and not held in vain.