I can’t stand “It’s been so long since I last blogged because [insert excuses, self deprecation, promises to be more consistent, blah blah blah]” posts, so I’ll just say this: Oh hi! I’m back. A lot has happened. I had a baby. She’s six months old. Grab some coffee and chocolate or whatever you like to enjoy on lazy Sunday afternoons, and walk through some bible thoughts with me. 🙂
Gratuitous new mom picture, and then we can move on:
“And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” Mt 28:20
This is the last verse of today’s Gospel reading, for Trinity Sunday. This single line is one I keep in mind often, because it reveals so much about who God is, and who he is to me. It also has distinctly Catholic implications, which we will get to towards the end.
A preamble: “Look! Pay attention! See, this is true.”
This calls back to God’s revelation to Moses in the burning bush in the book of Exodus. When he asks God who he is, God answers “I am who am.” In short, he is being. God is, rather than one being among many, being itself. (h/t Fr. Robert Barron) Through him, all things are, and without him, nothing is, because he is To Be itself. That’s all very heady and confusing and not very personal, I know. But it’s an important foundation for what follows.
“I am with you“
Through Our Blessed Mother’s Fiat, the eternal To Be, the origin of existence itself, took on human flesh. It’s the single most baffling thing that has ever happened. Why would he do that?? He chose to become one of us to reveal himself fully to us, and to be with us. To be better known and loved by us, he took on our physical form, and got down on our level and looked humanity in the eye. He spoke with a human voice. (I often wonder what it must have been like to hear the very voice of God made man!) And through his life, death, and resurrection, he revealed to us that he is love, and that he is with us. Love is with us. To be God is to be in loving relation to an other, and since God is being, being itself is relational. It’s the very meaning of God’s Trinity and Unity! There is nobody more passionately, boundlessly in love with humanity than our God is, and he wants us to be like him in loving the whole world. As he is our Father, he shows his children by example how we are to love. There is so, so much more I have to say on this as it relates to parenthood. But for now I’ll stick to our chosen verse from today’s gospel, okay? So today, what God teaches me about love is “I am with you.” He teaches by example. I’m here, he says. With you. I want to be with you. I am Love, and this is how you love. You be with. Regardless of your struggles, your failings, your ignorance, your anger, your crazy mood swings, your messy house, your waking up shrieking, ready to start the day at 4am, and anything else that might make you annoying or off-putting… “I am with you,” because that is who I am, says God. That’s who love is. We have all hurt our God time and time again, pushing back against what he asks of us, mistreating his other children, ignoring the needs of others, and many many other things that outright reject God’s will for us. Still he says “I am with you.” Even if we reject him and want nothing to do with him and put up all manner of walls around ourselves to keep him out at times, he’s always standing by, waiting ever so patiently for us to return. And that, by the way, is the best description I have of my “parenting style,” such as it is–Being With. (Although I see it more as just a natural extension of what I strive for as my “being a person” style.)
“I am with you always, until the end of the age.”
If you think back to the heady academic stuff about God’s nature as being existence itself, this part goes without saying. But then so is saying “I love you” over and over to someone you love. You don’t stop saying it because it is old news. You keep saying it, to show love and to remind the beloved. Here Jesus is reminding us that we are his beloved, to the ultimate extreme degree. When we say wedding vows, it’s “As long as we both shall live” or “Till death do us part.” (Perhaps this is different in the Eastern rites–I believe their theology on this is a bit different.) As humans, that’s the longest we can promise to do anything, and it’s a really big deal, to say the least. But Christ is God, eternal To Be, outside and around and within and through all of time and space, and he promises to us his “always.” He meets and surpasses any promise of love we can give. Of course. Because our human love is of Christ’s love, though limited by virtue of our nature as created beings.
My FAVORITE PART of this whole thing: Jesus, having taken on human flesh at the Incarnation, gave us his very body to feed and sustain us, beginning at the Last Supper/Calvary. He entrusted his body to us in the Holy Eucharist, safeguarded by the Apostles, handed down to successor after successor for twenty centuries, and shares it with YOU in any Catholic parish, any day of the week, so you can accept his offer of his Presence, again and again. Regardless of the many bad things that have happened because of human sin since Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross, He has held fast to that promise to be with us, physically, forever. God will never force you to do anything! But rather, regardless of your past, he continues to offer his total, physical presence to you. He’s your Father, your brother, your friend, and he’s waiting patiently for your response. He wants to be with you. Won’t you go meet him? Sit with him? Tell him what’s on your mind? He’s the perfect listener, and he knows you better than anyone.
“I am with you always, until the end of the age.” How beautiful.
It’s so nice to write and share these thoughts! I really enjoy discussing things like this, so thanks for reading and commenting if you are so inclined. It takes a long time in a conversation between friends to get to the point where you talk about things like this, and my friend hangouts these days tend to get cut short by baby naps. Maybe I’ll keep writing, then. We’ll see.