Sunday, 28 June 2020

13th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A 2020

You may have heard this assessment that Catholics are sacramentalised but not evangelised. It is not a complimentary evaluation as it implies that Catholics do not know the bible, let alone mission-minded. This negative appraisal may hint of a Protestant insinuation of what Catholics are. Today’s 1st Reading and a section of the Gospel passage may prove otherwise. Catholics may not “know” the Bible the way Protestants do but they definitely breathe it. For example, both these readings share a connexion with the way Catholics welcome their priests. Never mind that some priests feel entitled and many of us do not live up to what is required of us. We failed as evidence in the recent many scandals. However, this does not obscure the fact that many Catholics welcome their priests and where do they get his from? In the 1st Reading, we hear the Shunamite woman who was promised a reward for the welcome given and hospitality afforded to the man of God, Elisha which prefigured the recompense pledged in the Gospel by Jesus Himself that those who honour a prophet will have a holy man’s reward.


This welcome that Jesus speaks about is indeed comforting and assuring for those who follow Him. However, it is preluded by some hard saying of Jesus. They deal with our heart and our priorities. This side of the Gospel is not always something which we enjoy hearing considering that our version of Christianity is easy and light. Today we hear it loud and clear.


It would appear that Jesus repudiates the commandment—to honour one’s father and mother. But that was not His intent. In the matter of choosing between good and evil, there is no choice per se because we necessarily choose the good. There is no question of choosing the bad. The difficulty arises when we have to choose between two goods. It is good to love one’s parents or to love life itself for God did not create life for us to disdain it. It would make no sense at all. However, it is also a good to love God. Hence the decision is between the good of loving one’s neighbour (parents etc) and loving God. It feels like we are caught in a paradox because Jesus Himself taught us to love our neighbour as ourselves. How can He pit these two goods, that is, the love of God vs the love of neighbour?


To understand we enter into the realm of hierarchy or priorities. We ought to love our neighbour or love our life because they are God’s gifts to us. However, our love of these must flow from our love of God. Hence, we do not love them for themselves alone. Between two loves which are good, we ought to love the better. The love of God is always the better option.


A quotation might help illustrate today’s lesson. The wise man values the love of the giver rather than the gift of the lover. Indeed, the Lord has given us so bountiful a creation. Hence we ought to love it. But, we should never forget the God who gives us. A man who loves his life, his spouse, his family, his money, his possessions more than God has forgotten the Blesser because he is engrossed with his blessings. 


Today we are taught to love our families because relationships are important to us etc. But, one should marvel as how radical the missionaries were in the days of old. Scores of our older religious—like the Irish missionaries or the French Fathers when they left their homeland, they said goodbye forever. The hand that is laid to the plough does not look back. Many of them came and as far as they were concerned, it was as if their families were dead to them. 


Perhaps it is an indication that times have changed. We think we have a slightly better understanding of psychology or are we just too “psychologised” (if there is such a word) that we rationalise away anything which smacks or suggests of radicality? It is a kind of watering down the demands made of us in the name of “wholeness” or more integrated psychology etc. We have become soft. We are easily offended. We readily embrace victimhood because we have been done to. We are definitely entitled as we ought to love ourselves, be kind to ourselves. What we think is the most important point of view, etc. Hence, the kind of radicality of the past missionary would appear alien to our soft psychology.


The Gospel is indicating that the radicalness of discipleship is divisive in itself. This is most likely the crux of Jesus’ hard message. It is a truth we may not have fully calculated. It is like swiping with a credit card. You spend but do realise the full cost of your expense. For those who are converting, the landscape is different. Here, we can speak of say a religion that is all pervasive that it permeates everything so much so that a person of that religion cannot risk a conversion out of that religion. He or she will be killed by the relatives. They call it honour killing. The Gospel discipleship speaks to these people and more. 


In following Jesus, when we encounter the options between good and bad, it is a no-brainer kind of option. We need not even think of it. Stealing is one of them. Or killing. We do not stop to think about abortion as an option. We do not do it. Full stop. But there will be plenty of other options in which the choice is between what is good and what is better. Like for example, the love of one’s family and the leaving of the family in order to serve the Lord better. 


More radical than that is to live according to the standards of Christ. We are dealing with a culture of complacency that makes discipleship tough. What do I mean by complacency—we accept the cost of doing business in this country that we no longer think of it in terms of following Jesus. The added cost are the brown envelopes. Everyone does it. If you were to do business without it because it is part of your discipleship, you will find yourself alone or left behind. People will think you are stupid and your family might even reject you. To stand alone is not a nice feeling. Radical discipleship of Christ will lead to loneliness. 


The 2nd Reading highlights the loneliness this way: You too must consider yourself dead to sin but alive for God in Christ Jesus. Dying to sin is a long and lonely process of conversion whereas living for Jesus is the solitary pilgrimage that one has to undertake in order to be His disciple. To love Christ and to follow Him is an everyday decision. For many of us, our parents made that initial decision for us. It is up to us to personally take up the challenge of discipleship. Otherwise as Dietrich Bonhoeffer used to say, “Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.”


What Bonhoeffer describes is no more than what is human. Even Jesus Himself begged the Father to remove the bitter cup of suffering as He agonised in Gethsemane. It shows us that no one is born a martyr or let alone a saint. What a saint or a martyr is, what they are is a lifetime of choices beginning with small sacrifices building up to the lived discipleship which becomes a person’s second nature. When we read or hear of a martyr stepping up to the stage of sacrifice is but a culmination of a heart that had already been following Christ. Hence, we have hope. Each one of us begins with small steps and in time we will become the disciple that Christ can proudly say to us: You have walked my Calvary, now enjoy the Kingdom that is destined to be yours for eternity. 

Sunday, 21 June 2020

12th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A 2020

One of presentism’s myopia is basically that it sees no further than its nose. According to Collin’s Dictionary, it is defined as a partiality towards present-day points of view, especially by those interpreting history. The current indignation in the United States and elsewhere, of removing “controversial” public statues is possibly an expression of presentism. We are the only ones who can define what is right.

The idea that life were simpler during Jeremiah’s time could also be an expression of presentism too. For example, he did not have to contend with the ubiquity of electronic intrusion. Jeremiah, otherwise known as the reluctant prophet, lamented the deadly plots of evil men surrounding him. In this respect, he was lucky not to be born this era. We have electronic trolls waiting to pounce on anyone who dares to walk out of sync with the “official” narrative. It appears that history is even more forgiving than the internet is. Caught in a wrong place and time and you gain notoriety forever. Post, do or say something stupid, you will live to regret it. How many celebrities have had to apologise for an indiscretion a lifetime ago?

People inhabit fear bubbles. In the movie Black Panther, when the hero caught up with the villain somewhere in Korea, he was about to inflict bodily harm. Thankfully, he was stopped by his trusted aide. Why? The pervasive camera phones. As the crowd whipped out the mobile phone to capture the scene, the Black Panther was advised to back down because of irreparable damage done should he be recorded as summarily executing a person. We no longer adhere to an objective code but live in fear that we might be caught with our pants down. It is not just people who live behind the barricade of fear, institutions too and this includes the Church. We need to be seen doing or heard mouthing the “correct” narrative according to the accepted canons of “racism, sexual orientation, gender equality and etc”. The sacking of the police office was fundamentally a reaction of fear by the authorities that they might be judged as not doing enough to fulfil the demands of the day, that is, black lives matter. Never mind that all lives actually matter. And those who speak up for “all lives matter” will be pilloried as “deniers” who undervalue “black lives”. In these safe shrines of sanctimony, our standard is not so much right or wrong but rather that we should not be caught off-guard.

Why do we fear that much?

You could say that we are suffering from an information overload. We are fed barrages of negative news that whatever is good is filtered out unwittingly. When we can no longer perceive what is good, we will in general react badly. The prevalence of zombie movies is symptomatic of our fear acting out. Firstly, we might be living in the end times. Who knows? But, more likely, it is not the survivors who represent us; we are the zombies. We are like the flesh-devouring zombies in the manner we consume negative news. Secondly, we react to the bad news illogically. Fear traps us within echo chambers corralling us into tribal behaviour. A reason for having this backdoor government is because some politicians have played up the fear that a majority race in the country will be overpowered by a minority group. In the face of this threat, people generally retreat into tribal group think.

This still does not really answer the question why we are fearful. The answer lies in a maybe—just maybe there is no God. What Karl Marx observed of us runs true in that religion is possibly the opiate of the people. It is conceivable that we believe in a God of our own construction. Could this explain why we need Jack Dorsey or Mark Zuckerberg? A couple of days ago, the Gospel reading pointed out that God can see what we do in secret. What if there were no God? How will we be remembered or validated? It used to be that we could settle for God because He sees what others cannot. Thus, what the right hand does, the left does not need to know because God knows. Without God, today we need Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook to validate us. Otherwise we will be "nobodies".

Fear is debilitating. It is not stupid to be fearful. It is more likely that we have become illogical to the point that we see what is not there and miss out what is there. For example, our fear is heightened by a person who died from Covid-19 but we are not even bothered by the many who died from dengue.

Fear that there is no resurrection could be a reason why we are stirred up these days to scour history in order to purify it. It is as if the whole story of humanity has to be written this side of death’s curtain. Thus, we are attempting to erase the "unpleasantries" in history because he or she, this or that person is a blight to our "perfect" postlapsarian (oxymoronic!) world. There is no distinction made between Adam and Christ as if there were no Adam and therefore, there is no need for Christ. However, the 2nd Reading acknowledges that human history is messily contaminated, but it has been set on right keel by none other than the Lord Himself. Then again, because we no longer believe in the Resurrection, we have taken upon ourselves to be the judge of history. We judge the past in terms of slavery, sexism, racism and etc., because we are mortified by our belonging to sinful humanity. This is presentism that is myopic as 30 years down the line, who knows, our generation may be erased too because standards have changed, and we would have become an embarrassment to our descendants.

In the Gospel today, Jesus assures His disciples that they should not fear. The only fear one should have is that God does not see or remember. The need to have a eulogy at the end of the funeral is possibly premised on this unspoken panic that really, God does not see or remember and hence it is left to us to make sure that the deceased is noticed and known. Or that it is up to us and nobody else to right the history of wrongs. We are the last word and not God.

To believe in the Resurrection is counter cultural. To trust that God will remember goes against the grain of existential anxiety. A French writer Jules Renard wrote, “If you are afraid of being lonely, do not try to be right”. Jeremiah was right and the price he paid was ridicule. Jesus was right and He was crucified. They submitted to a standard not subjected to the shifting sands of popular opinion. Apparently, St Augustine used to say, “Right is right even if no one is doing it. Wrong is wrong even if everyone is doing it”. Courage is standing against this tyranny of “relevance”.

These days two fears are coming together. First, it is the fear of the pandemic. We naturally fear dying. However, this fear of death actually highlights a second anxiety which is an apprehension of a history without God. Without God, we will always try to right all the wrongs of history forgetting that history has always been salvation history. Totalitarian regimes such as communism thought that it could right the wrongs of inequality or injustice without God and they failed. Today, political correctness befogged by a myopic presentism is trying to rewrite a cleaner history believing that our prevailing history is bereft of God. This is also doomed to fail because we have mistaken liberation to be redemption. We may be freed of inequalities but that is not redemption. For that, we still need Christ who saves us by redeeming and healing our wounded history.

In summary, the courage to overcome the angst of our age is pivoted on a healthy trust in God’s providence. Physical death is not the final word in our earthly existence; God is. Without this firm belief that God will vindicate us, we will never be able to witness to Christ—martyrs dare to walk to their death because they know that their death is not the end of their history. As Sacred Scripture is filled with the assurance that God is in charge—Jesus tells us today: Do not be afraid. I will be with you, always and until the end of time.

Monday, 15 June 2020

Corpus Christi Year A 2020

I feel like I was born in the wrong era. But I am not a victim. Let me explain what I mean by being born in out of time. Today, virtual reality is taken for granted and is no longer a fixation for futurologists. You wear a goggle and your experience is as authentic as you would get in real-life. Your brain cannot tell the difference. Gaming is not the only industry which uses VR. The porn, or using a more “amoral” term, the adult entertainment industry has also embraced VR whole-heartedly.

If a man so desires, he can have the woman of his wildest dreams and all his fantasies, sexual or otherwise, are fulfilled. He merely needs a VR-headset to stimulate his vision and hearing, creating an immersive 3-D environment so that the brain is induced or better, seduced into thinking that the virtual is real. But, no matter how much “adult entertainment” (or virtual sex) mimics real-life interaction, no matter how “real” it feels, currently, we still recognise that that it is all in the head. It may be different in the future.

Now transfer this experience to our current situation. Imagine a man or a woman kneeling in front of a TV live-streaming a Eucharistic Adoration. Or attending a live-stream Mass as if one were attending Mass. If intimate relation with a VR-hot chick is all in the head, how different is that from watching a live-streamed Mass?

Oh, but that is different. Fair enough. I was born in the wrong time.

Since religious service has been deemed to be “non-essential”, people have reasoned that it is OK to watch live-streamed Masses (not that it is wrong) after all Jesus is present in different ways when we celebrate the sacred liturgy. First, He is present in the community gathered around the altar. Second, He is present in the Word proclaimed. Third, He is present in the priest celebrant. Fourth, He is present in the Eucharistic bread and wine. Each is a presence of Jesus. So, if your family gathers to proclaim and pray the Gospel whilst watching a live-streamed, there He is present. However, there is a qualitative difference in the fourth Presence of Jesus.


A parishioner or a priest, both are instances of Jesus’ Presence, but you would never kneel to worship them, would you? Whereas, for the Eucharistic species, especially the Blessed Sacrament in exposition, you would fall on your knees in worship and adoration.

From the earliest times, Christians have taken the words of Jesus to heart. In today’s Gospel, He told the crowd He had fed with the multiplied loaves and fish, that should they desire eternal life, they must eat of His Body and drink of His blood. Sadly, the people were content to settle for a Jesus doing what Moses had done in the desert as we heard in the 1st Reading—to feed them physically. In the Gospel, Jesus commanded and not suggested because He was referring not to food in the general sense. He was decidedly Eucharistic in His mandate. Thus, like their ancestors of old, the crowd murmured and wondered how someone could even broach a cannibalistic practice. He did not back down in the face of their objection.

To gain eternal life is to eat the Body and drink the Blood of Jesus, no less. If Jesus had meant it in a figurative way, He would have proposed that they “eat” (phago, φάγω) instead of directing them to “chew” (trogon, τρώγω). Otherwise, why would the crowd murmur? Furthermore, He stated that the Bread He would give was His flesh (sarx, σάρξ) for the life of the world. He could have used the word Body (soma, σώμα) which is more figurative and definitely more palatable when proposed as an idea.

This points to a Jesus who cannot be more real in giving Himself to us as the Viaticum. Down the centuries, through Apostolic Succession in the Church, Jesus continues to fulfil His promise of feeding us with His Body and Blood. The Church He founded makes the Eucharist for us. The word used to describe this process of confecting His Body and Blood is “Transubstantiation”, in which the very substances of the bread and wine are changed into the substance of Jesus, the same Jesus who walked 2000 years ago. Notice how intuitive the Institution Narrative is as it changes from the 3rd person (in description of the night HE took bread, etc) to 1st person (This is MY Body. This is MY Blood). While the substances of bread and wine are changed, the species retain their accidental appearances of bread and wine so that Jesus is truly, really, and substantially present in the Eucharist—a Presence that has given comfort to billions from the time of the Catacombs to the current pandemic. And not just comfort but strength.

If Jesus is our Viaticum, then deprivation of Mass certainly has an impact on the spiritual health of pilgrims on the road to eternity. This pestilence is not just medical problem but also a spiritual challenge. Whilst we tally up the cost of stopping the economy, surely, we need to consider how sensitive souls are imperilled with this denial of Holy Communion. Of course, one can bring up the matter of making a Spiritual Communion through live-streamed adoration, and etc.[1]

In Sacramental Communion, when we eat and drink the Body and Blood of Jesus, we consume the accidents of bread and wine. It means that we eat and drink of Jesus in faith and love which is also what we do in Spiritual Communion. Since both Spiritual Communion and Sacramental Communion are received in faith and love, the effects are the same. However, Spiritual Communion always symbolises our desire to receive Jesus sacramentally and it is premised on the possibility of actual participation. In other words, Spiritual Communion is directed towards the reception of Sacramental Communion. Since Spiritual Communion expresses a desire and is not a fact, it is therefore a sacramentally less perfect sharing in the Body and Blood of the Lord.

Interestingly, when it comes to interpersonal and intimate relationship, people will not settle for that which is virtual but it appears that when it comes to the true, real and substantial Presence, live-streaming may induce us into settling for a projected reality. For those who are elderly, isolated, immuno-deficient or compromised and sick, live-streaming is a blessing. For those who are able-bodied, live-streaming should only deepen our longing for what is real and not be complacent with the virtual. What we have currently is not, despite all the hype, the new normal but the abnormal.

If Christ intends for us to eat and drink of Him for eternal life, then the unavailability of the Eucharist cannot be of divine origin. But we know that God can make good come out of what is a bad condition. He does not change the situation but allows it to redirect our attention. People who have given up on prayer have started to pray. Hopefully, this deprivation of Holy Communion will deepen our love for the Eucharist. But more than the supernatural gift of the Body and Blood of Christ, we should also take heed of the natural realm because faith and food are two sides of a coin. If the absence of Holy Communion should deepen our appreciation for the privilege of the Eucharist perhaps we can pray that we will also develop our solidarity with those who will require assistance as they struggle to get back on their feet during this period of recovery from the pandemic. Jesus has not abandoned us for He gave us His Body and Blood as food for the journey for as long as we are in the world. In keeping His promise to be with us, He is also inviting to ponder on another absence. Through the acute lack of the Eucharist, we are reminded to remember the privation of the other: the shortage of food for the poor is not the lack of God’s compassion but rather of ours. Thus, the want of Holy Communion is not just an invitation to Spiritual Communion. It is also an encouragement to a deeper appreciation of physical hunger especially for the poor and marginalised. At Corpus Christi, we carry our Lord in procession. May we also carry His brothers and sisters in our hearts and with our hands and feet. 


[1] If you read this piece as a diatribe against live-streamed Mass, it is not. I am deeply concerned with the prolonged deprivation of Sacramental Communion. Satan will use any means possible to prevent us from receiving that which is our guarantee for eternal life. And our complacency may just be our unwitting cooperation with him.

Monday, 8 June 2020

Trinity Sunday Year A 2020

Agnes is the wife of Joseph. Helen is the wife of Stephen. This is not an issue of gender equality to ask why it cannot be said that Joseph is the husband of Agnes or Stephen is the husband of Helen. Frequently, when we want to describe someone, we resort to using these two criteria—hierarchy or utility. It is as if someone were a nobody unless he has a rank or is useful. “Do you know Mary. She is Fr Johnson’s sister?”. It appears that Mary is a nobody unless there is a reference to the priesthood of her brother. Mark’s son is a “datuk”. Again, Mark is a nonentity without his son’s “pangkat”. It is possibly a reflexion of our present assessment standard. We “know” through categories which define an object by its value or its utility. When a priest leaves a parish, many will forget him because he is no longer useful and vice-versa could also be true that he forgets the people because they have no use for him.

Today is Trinity Sunday. It is not easy to preach on the Trinity because our lens is rather commercially pragmatic and functional. The Trinity can be spoken of in itself but since we are home with the practical, we generally understand better what the Trinity does. In other words, we prefer the economic (oikonomia) Trinity to the immanent (theologia) Trinity. God is easier for us to appreciate when we think of Him in terms of what He does rather than who He is. Who He is, is a mathematical nightmare!

But the separation between the immanent and the economic Trinity is false because both descriptions of the Trinity are important. Who God is in Himself, is important because the Trinity is not a concept that people can easily grasp, especially for those who claim their religion as monotheistic. Muslims have great difficulties understanding how God can be considered one in the face of Christians’ claim that He is a Trinity of persons.

It was mentioned earlier that the question about Agnes being the wife of Joseph or Helen being the wife of Stephen was not a focus on gender inequality or oppressive “patriarchy”. As contemporary society attempts to dismantle “patriarchy”, it begins with “degenderising” God. Since God is neither male nor female, some priests have resorted to using gender-neutral formulae for baptism: “I baptise you in the name of the Creator, the Redeemer and the Sanctifier” or “I baptise you in the name of the Maker, the Liberator and the Sustainer”. Such formulae basically reduce God to His economic functions, and they fail to elaborate the relationship between them. Without the context of relationship, the formulae themselves might imply that there are three gods. So, we may as well be worshipping Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma—the three deities of Hinduism.

In terms of operations ad extra, all the three divine Persons are Creator, Maker, Redeemer, Sanctifier, Liberator, and Sustainer. God’s action in the world is the common work of the three divine Persons. As the Trinity has only one and the same nature, so too does it have only one and the same operation (CCC #258). However, specific aspects of this one saving work can be appropriated to distinct persons according to their unique personal properties. Therefore, to the Father who is the principle, origin, and source, we attribute the work of creation. He sent His Son to be born of Mary in order to accomplish the work redemption. Together, they sent the Holy Spirit to sanctify those who have been saved. Think of the Father as He who plans our salvation; the Son as He who carries out that plan; and the Spirit as He who perfects the plan. These divine attributes that are “personal” to the Trinity are always in relation to us.

Note therefore that the Trinity does not designate three modes of a Person (for that is Modalism) but three Persons in One God. Hence, it is crucial to know who God is in Himself and not just how useful He is for us? Put it in another way, to love someone is to also know the person intimately because in loving there is always self-disclosure. Revelation is God’s self-disclosure and for us to love Him, we must negotiate the truth of who He is. A person is revealed through his actions and the more we know him, the better we understand his actions.

Perhaps it is testimony to how utilitarian we are that we are interested not in who God is but only in what He can do for us. In particular when we consider that we easily give up hope whenever our prayers are not answered. For example, in light of our pandemic, where is God? Does His silence not point to His impotence at best or His cruelty at worst?

So, to know Him more, we must go to the source of His revelation which is Sacred Scripture. For right at the beginning of Genesis, we already have an instance of God’s self-communication in the creation of man in the image and likeness of God. In the narrative of creation, there appears to be grammatical error in the way God speaks of Himself. “Let US make man in OUR image, in the likeness of OURSELVES…” (Gen 1: 26). In the New Testament, at the end of Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus entrusted to the Apostles the Great Commission “to baptise in the NAME of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt 28:19).

Sacred Scriptures in the Old Testament show us traces of the Trinity. In the New Testament, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are grouped under ONE name and not three names.

To understand this unity in Trinity, we enter into the mystery of processions and relations in God. The word person in the Trinity is a description of a relation that is distinct and not a description of an “individual” the way we understand it today. Each person of the Trinity is different from the other two by way of relationship. They are not distinct by way of nature or essence. They are one in nature or essence and therefore we believe in One God. But they are 3 Persons because they are distinct in their relations to each other. The Council of Florence, AD 1338-1445, defines that in God, there is one nature, two processions, three Persons and four relations.

The Son “proceeds” from the Father, and the Holy Spirit “proceeds from the Father and the Son”. These are the two processions in God. These two processions are the basis for the four relations that constitute the three persons in God. The four eternal relations in God are first, the Father actively and eternally generates the Son. Second, the Son is passively and eternally generated by the Father. Third, the Father and Son actively spirate the Holy Spirit. And fourth, the Holy Spirit is passively spirated of the Father and the Son.

In these four relations, there are only three persons because Father and Son are already persons. It cannot be that the Father and the Son become yet another super-person to spirate the Spirit.

Let me further explain on the meaning of relation in the context of the Trinity. We are creatures of time and our understanding is encapsulated by time. Take the example of Augustine and Gregory. Augustine is the father and Greg is the son. Who comes first? Many people will answer Augustine since he is the older of the two. But, when you think about it, both came into “existence” at the same time because the words “father” and “son” are relational terms. Augustine can only be a father if he has a son or a daughter. No one is father or mother before he or she has a child.

Is the concept of how the Trinity is constituted important for us to know? The short answer is yes. When interdependence and community is unappreciated. When we over-emphasise the individual, we tend to lose sight of the communal. For example, suicide (without judging a person’s subjective capacity or reason for it) is objectively the highest form of selfish individualism. Have you ever wondered who has to scrap off the splattered remains of a person who jumps off a 20-storey building? “Others” meaning the community has to clean up after an “individual freely” decides to take his own life.

Now in this pandemic, imagine this message we are receiving: “You are important to me only in so far as you are distanced from me”. Self-preservation is the god we worship today. How utilitarian have we become? Look at the SOP that they gave out. Those above 70yo are not allowed to attend Mass. Someone told me that he was denied entry into the supermarket because he was above 60yo. These precautions do make sense under the guise of protection and preservation of life but the vibe unwittingly sent out is this: “If you are above 70, you are better off dead than alive. You are useless and if you were sick, you suck up valuable medical resources”. If an elderly is restricted by his age and excluded from participating in “life”, then question to ask is what the preservation of life is for? So that they may die older and perhaps lonelier than they are now? It is rhetorical and not an advocacy of recklessness.

We hear complaints about politics in general. Current in our political discourse is the “backdoor” government. What is specific is how we all loathe politics in Church. Here we are not speaking of the Church’s involvement with politics but rather of the political intrigue within the Church. Anyone who serves can tell you that the Church is rife with politics all the way from Pope Francis down to the layman or woman on the street. Well, there is a politics which will not stab you in the back nor throw you under the bus when it is convenient. It is not utilitarian and it is the politics of the Trinity. The Christ who came to save and the Spirit who sanctifies invite us into their politics so that we may in that way divinise our body politics in such a way that the oikonomia (what we are in the way we organise life) might reflect what is theologia (how God is in the inner life of the Trinity). That we hear in the 2nd Reading today.

The politics of the Trinity is selflessness. The Father in begetting, the Son in being begotten; the Father and Son in spirating, and the Spirit in being spirated are all acts of selfless love. In the coming days, if and when the lockdown is completely lifted, we will see a lot more “self-preservation” than we are seeing now. More people will be laid off from their jobs etc. The politics of selfless giving is exemplified in Jesus laying down His life for others. He embodies what it means to be God’s love. We may sin and we will definitely betray that love, but that crucified love will never betray us. This is the body politics of the Trinity. We might do well to remember this on Trinity Sunday.