One Affliction After Another!
Trinity Sunday, 2016
“Not only that, but we even boast of our afflictions, knowing that affliction produces endurance, and endurance, proven character and proven character, hope,
and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given us.”
from Romans 5:1-5
From the gospel this Sunday for the Solemnity of the Trinity, Jesus makes it very clear that he is not giving his church all the answers to life’s questions, much less a complete understanding of the mystery of the Trinity, for he says in the gospel, “I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now” (John 16:12). Instead, he left this for the Church to reason out through the power of the Holy Spirit over time.
The real mysteries of life that most of us have to deal with daily are much more down to earth than the nature of the Holy Trinity! While Jesus left much of the theology of the Trinity for the Church to work out in the future, he did give us explicit instructions as to how to relate to our neighbor and how to view our own personal afflictions in the light of the cross. Each relationship situation in our lives may be seen in three ways: from my point of view, how this action affected my neighbor, and how God views the situation.
This past week, as I was preparing to write this column, my car battery died just as I was going out to bury someone! In just another moment, someone else came in with an appointment time that I now could not make. A “trinity” of afflictions! In our crisis moments, Saint Paul’s words above take on a new meaning. Afflictions are meant to have meaning, to bear fruit by producing faith, hope and endurance. That’s the idea, even if it doesn’t always work out that way.
When we think about it, life is a series of situations with other people, and often one “affliction” after another. Try as hard as we might, there is always a cross to bear and a neighbor to be kind to somehow. What we know of the Trinity is that God is a
relationship between three persons in one God, so we are by nature relational as well. We also know that this love of God is sacrificial from the Mass, from the Cross, and by the way that Jesus Christ lived his life. While we are in life, then, we will be faced with one personal relationship situation after another, and one affliction of some kind or other after another, because this is how we grow in our love for God and as human beings.