Sunday, May 23, 2010

Not Just This Wheel's on Fire

As a grade school child, today was one of the most difficult Sundays we had all year as Roman Catholics. As a loyal son of Holy Mother Church I struggled to wrap my head around The Holy Trinity and God as the Father, Son and the Holy Ghost (later changed to Spirit which I always thought was a great marketing idea as all I ever thought of was Casper and I'm pretty sure that wasn't supposed to be the point).

Just as I was getting used comfortable with the contradiction of three persons in one Godhead, along comes Pentecost Sunday and when you're a kid, because you don't know the words 'disquieting' or 'surreal' you say 'weird' (a lot). Now as a somewhat world-weary adult, I look at the Gospel of John, usually used as part of the Mass and envy that school kid with his unthinking faith and belief.

John, say the Scripture scholars, was (at best) reconstructing what might have been said at Christ's last Supper-but because of when those same scholars think the Gospel was written it's very possible that John, himself, heard none of the words spoken he quotes. Ironically, and in a sense coming full-circle, John himself becomes the proof of his own theory that belief in the divinity of Jesus Christ, taken on faith alone, by those who did not witness his miracles is at least as powerful as belief by those who were present.

The tongues of fire, we were taught in catechism (when I was in public school and attended religious instruction in the church basement once a week) and later, when at St Peter's in religion class, were to cleanse our hearts and minds of doubts and questions. Nearly six decades into the journey, I guess they needed to be lot hotter because the former remain and the latter abound.

But honoring the notion of symmetry and hoping the truth in the lesson is so simple and obvious even I can grasp it, I cling to the example of John and his testimony of faith and belief in that which he had not seen. No man alive will come to you with another tale to tell. And you know that we shall meet again, if your memory serves you well.
-bill kenny

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