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from fathers desk

Dear Parish Family,

My heart soars & yet is broken. We are underway to reopen for Masses beginning Monday, June 8th and Sunday Masses next weekend for Corpus Christi! Yet throughout our nation great unrest surges. I have had to turn away with disgust at the news & video of George Floyd’s violent and abusive death, and then again a week later at rioting, pillaging and violence afflicting some of our nation’s cities.

In both cases, the saying “might makes right” comes to mind. Not that it is true but only that in both instances we see those acting who appear to espouse the dictum. The officer appears to believe that the might (violence) he is using is right (justified), and now the rioters, pillagers and thieves also appear to think that their violence is justified. Neither is true.

In ancient societies generally, the mighty did make the rules and establish the boundaries for upright conduct. In the ancient near east, if a poor man stole a sheep, a more powerful man could insist on twice or more in repayment, if he could back up his demand with force. The Old Testament contains “the law of the claw” (lex talionis), which limited what could be sought in retribution (Ex 21:23). Better known as “eye for an eye”, it sought to limit escalations in violence and feuds, else anger and revenge take the heart of humanity. Other ancient law codes contained this law too. I fear in these days that many have revenge and anger wrapped like eagle talons around their hearts.

Jesus promised not to abolish but to fulfill the Law, down to the smallest letter. Yet his Sermon on the Mount carries the grave challenge, “You have heard that it was said ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil. When someone strikes you on [your] right cheek, turn the other one to him as well” (Mt 5:38-39). The one true God who knows the depths of our hearts, having his own fleshly heart, calls us beyond the limited law of retribution to a more expansive love. Catherine Doherty was fond of saying, “Love, love love, without counting the cost.” Justice may be weighed in a balance but love cannot be titered.

This weekend, we honor the deepest of our Christian mysteries, the mystery of the Trinity, the mystery of love. The Holy Spirit is the love of the Father for the Son and the love of the Son for the Father. It is the love shared by both, or poured out from both. The Father is the origin of all. He is unbegotten. His Eternal Word receives the fullness of his being. He is the begotten one. The Spirit is the fruit of the love of the Father and the Son. He is the love of both blossoming eternally into the third person. Whenever we describe this august Mystery, we fail. We can rely merely on analogy and we are limited in our temporal understanding. How to fathom infinity?! But the generation of the Word and the spiration of the Spirit are eternally active yet always full and complete.

Jesus is the Incarnate Word of the Father. “He who sees me, sees the Father,” he reminds Philip (Jn 14:9). Jesus is love made visible, the refulgence of the Father’s glory (Heb 1:3), the light in the darkness that points us toward the higher law, the love of love. It is not an easy road, but I know in my heart that Christian love is the way forward. Chaos and violence lead only to death. Death of others. Destruction of the innocent and the withering of love in the human heart.

As we commemorate the Holy Trinity, we remember one of the core teachings of Christianity, John 3:16 “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” Eternal life is held out as the promise for those who choose to follow the higher law of love.

Giving praise to the Holy Trinity, I remain,

Yours in Christ Jesus,

Fr. Joel Wilson