Sunday, June 16, 2019

Remembering the King

Solemnity of The Most Holy Trinity (C)
Video: YouTube Iftadulsadab Kashif

My dear friends, do you remember the story of King Kong? As you may recall, King Kong is the title of a movie first produced in 1933, and later remade by Peter Jackson in 2005. In the remake, a film crew travels by boat to a remote island, populated by prehistoric creatures, including King Kong, a majestic 25-foot gorilla. Unexpectedly, this gigantic ape falls in love with Ann, the lead actress on the film crew, and takes it upon himself to protect her from all harm. In a spectacular sequence, Kong successfully fights off a pack of giant flesh-eating dinosaurs, while continually passing the tiny actress from the safety of one huge hairy hand to another.

Unfortunately for Kong, however, his love for Ann results in him being captured and brought to New York City, where he promptly escapes and continues to do what he had been doing on the island. He keeps fighting to protect Ann. Eventually, he carries her up the Empire State Building, where Kong is tragically shot and killed by war planes. But not before ensuring that Ann is safely deposited at the top of the building.

The story is, of course, a work of fiction. But it may be helpful for us to imagine what it’s like to be Ann. What it’s like to be loved in such an inexplicable, total and self-sacrificing way. What does it feel like to be held in those powerful yet protective hands, to gaze into those fiercely determined yet tender eyes, and to watch the life gradually fade from them, all for one’s own sake?

It may sound strange, my dear friends, but I believe it is by pondering questions like these that we begin to appreciate the deep Mystery we are celebrating today. It is by placing ourselves in the shoes of someone like Ann – by recalling what it feels like to be loved in a similarly inexplicable, total and self-sacrificing way – that we can hope to penetrate the significance of our belief that God is a Trinity of Persons united in a single divine Substance.

For the doctrine of the Trinity can only be appreciated from a very particular location. The same spiritual place that St Paul describes in the second reading, when he says that it is by faith and through Jesus that we have entered this state of grace… What is this state of grace? Isn’t it that place of safety where we have been deposited by the love of God? The same inexplicable, total and self-sacrificing love expressed so eloquently and majestically in the Life, Death and Resurrection of Christ? Not unlike how King Kong leaves Ann safe at the top of the Empire State Building, even as he himself slowly slips away to his death?

Except that, we believe God does not simply slip away and abandon us. For, in the gospel, before going to his Passion, Jesus speaks to his disciples about the coming of the Spirit of truth, who will lead them to the complete truth. So that, if we were to think of Jesus and the Spirit as two hands that the loving Father stretches out, to hold us and to protect us, then it is as though the Father were passing us from the safety of one hand to another. Much like how King Kong passes his beloved Ann from one hand to another, even as he fights to protect her from the monsters that seek to devour her.

What does it feel like, my dear friends, to be at a spiritual location such as this? To find myself in this state of grace? What happens to me, when I begin to appreciate in some measure the inexplicable, total and self-sacrificing love that has been and continues to be showered upon me by God? The love that we have been pondering throughout the beautiful season of Easter, which ended last week with the feast of Pentecost?

Perhaps, when I do arrive at this place, I may be moved to ask the same question posed in the psalm: what is man that you should keep him in mind, mortal man that you care for him? Or, in other words, who am I, Lord, that you, who are so majestic and mighty, should l lay down your life for me in Christ? That you should commit yourself to remaining forever present to me in the Spirit? Who am I that you should keep protecting me from every evil that threatens to devour my life? Who am I that you should even delight to be with me, as the first reading assures me you do. I who sometimes can’t even abide my own company. Who am I that you, who are so full of life, should empty yourself so completely for me through Christ and in the Holy Spirit? Who am I, Lord, that you should love me in such an inexplicable, total and self-sacrificing way?

And what might happen to me, my dear friends, when I do indeed ask myself questions such as these? Perhaps then there will be ignited within me a tiny spark of that divine Love that blazes so intensely for me. And as I begin to burn with this same love, perhaps I will also learn to do what Paul asks the Romans to do in the second reading. To take pride in my sufferings, instead of constantly complaining about them, or trying to run away from them. For, when borne with love, these sufferings lead me closer to Christ.

Perhaps I will also learn to delight in the beauty of God’s creation. To delight even in the often messy circumstances of my own life, and of the lives of the people among whom I live and work every day. Perhaps I will also learn to reach out my hands, to protect those around me who are most at risk, even as God continues to reach out God’s hands to protect me.

My dear friends, at the end of the movie King Kong, as the great ape lies dead, a puzzled reporter asks, why did he do that…? To which someone else replies It was beauty killed the beast. Meaning, presumably, that it was because of the beauty of the actress that Kong died. But even if this may be true of the great ape, it is not quite what we believe about God. For we believe that God loves us not because of any merit or beauty of ours, but simply because God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them (1 John 4:16).

Sisters and brothers, as we celebrate the marvellous love that is the Most Holy Trinity, perhaps it is fitting that we should also ask ourselves where exactly are we choosing to abide today?

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