Saturday, 2 June 2012

Love, love, love

GospelMatthew 28:16-20

The eleven disciples set out for Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had arranged to meet them. When they saw him they fell down before him, though some hesitated. Jesus came up and spoke to them. He said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, make disciples of all the nations; baptise them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teach them to observe all the commands I gave you. And know that I am with you always; yes, to the end of time.’

When we understand the outside of things, we think we have them. Yet the Lord puts his things in subdefined, suggestive shapes, yielding no satisfactory meaning to the mere intellect, but unfolding themselves to the conscience and heart. -- George MacDonald

It is worth remembering that each of the Gospels represents a different point of view; just like witnesses of any event there is often a personal slant and for Matthew the accent is on the relationship between Jesus and his own people, the Jews.

The Gospels are also written in hindsight so links are made between the events of   the Mission itself; the references back to what we call the Old Testament and fast forward to the discipleship and nature of the community at the time they were written. When we study scripture now we must relate to them from our own lives and with an informed knowledge of the history and tradition of the faith  the message becomes alive for us too.

And, because the Gospels were written for a people who listened rather than read they have symbols in them that were clues to the action - more like listening to the radio than reading a story.

So it is worth noting that, as a Jew, Matthew loves mountains;Jesus is about to ascend to his Father - so there must be a mountain as a scriptural symbol of the link between humanity and God. And Jesus approaches them; authority comes to them - and they are transformed - they become the Mission. 

And how the disciples fulfilled this - and kept count- was through the water of baptism; symbolism again of the new life given.

But the symbol that people would not have recognised is that of the Trinity. If Jesus did nothing else he introduced us to this unimaginable mystery of the Triune God and he did it with Love.

Tradition would guess that the Father is the Creator God - if he ever was just himself, Love must have felt like a bumblebee trapped in a jar - frantic for freedom - it becomes hard to imagine God with a single face. Where would Love be born out of? Where would it go to?

Self-love is dangerous. To create humanity out of loneliness seems pathetic rather than godly; to create humanity so as to love God is self-centred and ill conceived - especially as we are not very good at it.

Give God two faces and love become imaginable- looking into the eyes of the One, knowing that you are also the One; a love that mirrors itself; basking in its perfection; still something of a tragic Narcissus. 

Complete in themselves; a God with two faces would have had no need for us; no time to even consider creating distractions such as ourselves.God with three faces always has somewhere else to look; another image to gaze upon with wonder and awe; Love that grows and strains to find more to love. A love that is drawn from one to another in a patterning, often described as a dance of Grace - creator, created and creative. 

This God is able to look at each other and say 'we will never be apart' and yet ‘this Love needs to be shared’. 

The need to share Love is what is asked of the disciples then and what is asked of us now. The doctrine of the Trinity with its mathematical devices and paradoxical metaphors asks a lot of our faith and our understanding. In many ways, this is what makes it feel true - God surely must be racing through our questioning minds all our lives and then racing back to remind us that there is only Love to understand just as quickly: like a lover in a dream that we can't quite hold onto. Thankfully we have Jesus who is there to walk with us and show us the way. We live in a  rhythm of commissioning, challenge and compassion.

We are held in a circle of Love that is active; creative and all encompassing - Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

The feeling remains that God is on the journey, too. --Teresa of Avila



claire said...

Brilliant and beautiful, Mairie. Wow...
I love the image of Love as a bumblebee trapped in a jar :-))))

Word in the Hand said...

A strange image I suppose but it felt right :))
Thank you and blessings +x

Lynda said...

This is beautiful and so inspirational. I really appreciate this thought: "We are held in a circle of Love that is active; creative and all encompassing - Father, Son and Holy Spirit." Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Your words give clarity & imagination to a challenging concept as the Trinity. Yesterday my husband asked me what I thought of God creating people because he was lonely, if I thought that was true, and my response was similar to your words here. I was pleasantly surprised to read your similar reflection on blogger today. :)

Word in the Hand said...

Lynda and jade - Thanks for your comments - Jade - how often does the Spirit seem to do that? :)