Sunday, May 26, 2013


Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity (C)
Beyond The Paradox of Publicity


Sisters and brothers, have you ever had to manage publicity of some kind? Say, for example, you wanted to spread the word about an event you were organising. Or maybe you were trying to keep some information from certain people. If you’ve ever had experiences like that, you’ll probably have noticed something very puzzling, something even paradoxical, about publicity. The paradox comes in two parts. The first has to do with how to get people interested in something. How to get them excited and talking about it every chance they get. What’s a good way to do this? You’ve probably guessed it. If you want people to spread the word about something, just tell them to keep it secret.

I think it won’t get me into too much trouble if I told you that a case in point is the recent elevation of our beloved parish priest to the position of Vicar General. As you might expect, the decision was made some time before it was announced. But, for good reason, it was kept under wraps. Those who knew were told to keep it secret. Which resulted, of course, in the parish grapevine buzzing with the news long before any official announcement was made. Which goes to show that the best way to publicise something is to tell people to keep it top secret.

But that’s just half the paradox. The other half has to do with how to keep something quiet. How to ensure that people take no notice of it. How many of us, for example, have noticed what the person next to us is wearing this morning? Or what materials are laid out for distribution on the tables at the entrance to our worship space? Or what announcements are being flashed on the TV screens at the Place of Gathering? I may be wrong, but my guess is that many of us haven’t noticed these things at all. Which goes to show that the way to make people ignore something, is precisely to make that something as obvious and as accessible as possible. Isn’t this, sisters and brothers, the paradox of publicity? If you want to spread the word about something, tell people to keep it secret. If you want to keep something hidden, display it openly. In plain sight.

I mention this, on the solemn feast of the Holy Trinity, because I think it can help us to answer a crucial question that this feast poses to us today. Except that it’s not the question we may be expecting. For some of us, the question the Trinity poses is something like a mathematical puzzle. How can God be both One and Three at the same time? There are various ways to answer this question. We may, for example, compare Father and Son and Spirit to coffee and cream and sugar. Or to shampoo and conditioner and aloe-vera. Three-in-one. And one-in-three. That’s possible. But what good does an answer like that do for us, really? What difference does it make to our lives? Is there perhaps another, more helpful, question we can consider?

I think there is. A closer look at our prayers and readings for today helps us to see the Trinity not so much as a puzzle, but more in terms of publicity. In our opening prayer, for example, we told God our Father that He had made known to the human race God’s wondrous mystery. That’s what this feast is about. It’s about God’s deep and ongoing desire to make Himself known to us. To publicise God’s self to us. It’s about how the Father keeps revealing Himself to us, through the Son, and in the Holy Spirit.

We see this expressed in our readings today. In the first reading, for example, we’re told not only that the Wisdom of God is always by the side of God, ever at play in his presence. But also that the Wisdom of God is at play everywhere in his world, delighting to be with the sons of men. This implies that our Trinitarian God–Father, Son and Spirit–is constantly with us and among us. Continually trying to make His presence felt by us. To publicise Himself to us. And even enjoying Himself in the process. Isn’t this why the psalmist is able to look at things as ordinary as the heavens, the moon and the stars, and to feel himself being led into the presence of God? To experience his heart being moved to praise the glory of God? How great is your name, O Lord our God, through all the earth.

But that’s not all. God’s efforts at publicising Himself to us is not limited to the things that we see around us. It goes even deeper than that. For the second reading tells us that through our Lord Jesus–through the life, death and resurrection of Christ the Son–the love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. As a result, it’s possible for us to find God not just in the awesome beauty of nature–in the moon and the stars–but also in the shadowy depths of our own hearts. Even when those same hearts may be broken by suffering. Whether resulting from natural disasters (such as that tornado in Oklahoma). Or from human sinfulness (such as the collapse of that garment factory in Bangladesh). Or simply from the more trivial, but no less heart-wrenching, setbacks of everyday life. Whatever their cause or their circumstances, our sufferings can actually usher us into the very presence of God.

Of course, we aren’t always able immediately to recognise God in such difficulties. Very often our first response might be denial, or anger, or unspeakable sorrow. And this is understandable. Like the disciples to whom Jesus is speaking in the gospel today, much of what the Lord has to say to us, much of what God has to publicise to us, would be too much for us at any given time. And yet, the Lord continues to pour his Spirit into our hearts. Continues to help us to recognise His consoling voice. Continues to enable us to yield, tentatively, to His gentle caress. And to fall, ultimately, into the warmth of his reassuring embrace.

But this is where a crucial question is posed to us today: If God takes so much trouble to make Himself known to us. If God keeps tirelessly reaching out to us through the Son and in the Holy Spirit. Then why do we not recognise His presence more readily? Why are we not more able to find God in the ordinary circumstances of our daily lives? I’m not sure, sisters and brothers. But I think we find the answer in what we were talking about earlier. In the paradox of publicity. By making Himself so close and so accessible, God has actually made it easier for us to ignore Him. To take His loving presence for granted.

If this is true, sisters and brothers, then what we need to do, more than anything else, is to beg God for the grace to go beyond this paradox. We need to ask God to help us to pay attention to the things that are most obvious. The things closest to us. Such as our own feelings and emotions. Or the people around us. Or the situations in which we find ourselves. Our joys and our sorrows. Our friends and our enemies. Those who help us and those who need our help. Since God is Trinity, everything can potentially lead us to Him. What we need are the eyes to see, the ears to hear, the hands to touch, the hearts to feel...

Sisters and brothers, today we celebrate Trinity Sunday. Today we rejoice in a God who continues, relentlessly, to reveal Himself to us. What can we do to pay more attention to Him? What do we need to go beyond the paradox of publicity today?

3 comments:

  1. O Trinitarian God, as You continue to reveal Yourself to me, please grant me the grace to remain OPEN to HEAR You when You call and to SEE You when You manifest Yourself to me.

    Lord, may i remain faithful to You, to be connected to You - with a meaningful and solid prayer life.. via a communication channel which only You have access to me...

    Lord, teach me and show me to go beyond the paradox of publicity so that i can SEE YOU and EXPERIENCE YOU, in Your own way and time.

    Come Lord Jesus, Come, Make Your Home in me and ever abide.

    Peace and All Good

    ReplyDelete
  2. You always hit the nail on the head! Yup, "secrets" and gossip spread like wildfire. But we often take some of the more mundane stuff for granted. God is everywhere, and yet hard to find. Or have we overlooked and missed what is staring at us in the face?

    I need to tune out all the noise, and be still to listen properly. I am assailed by images, words and information constantly, and it's often hard to hear God's voice.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. yes, often the mundane and the most ordinary things in life (including the voice of God) are so easily put aside and ignored as we tend to be so caught up with other more "spectacular" stuff and/or distractions....

      as God is serious about us, can we try to MAKE TIME FOR GOD, as HE patiently waits for us to come to HIM?

      one good way to tune out all the noises and distractions is to learn to focus on GOD and let HIM be our Number One (our TOP PRIORITY) in life.. then, everything else will fall into place.

      Be STILL and KNOW that I AM GOD.

      O Lord, may YOU INCREASE, as we d-e-c-r-e-a-s-e....

      Amen.

      Delete

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