Over these past weeks I have been binge watching on NETFLIX. I have watched the TUDORS and five Seasons of the VIKINGS. There seems to be a common story behind the different stories. Whether it was the 7th and 8th century world or the world of the 16th century —- someone seems to always want what the other has. If the weak do not submit, then the stronger will eliminate them.
AND SOMEHOW, God is invoked by all. Whether it was the Viking God Odon v. the Christian God — or the God of the Roman Church v. the God of the Church of England, all was done in the “name of God” and with the belief that God is on MY SIDE.
And, so it continues today. There are divisions — and then divisions within divisions. There are “Pope Francis – Catholics” who want growth through change — and “Cardinal Burke and Archbishop Vigano – Catholics” who question the orthodoxy of Pope Francis. There are Methodists who wanted greater openness to same-gender marriage and those who wanted a more traditional plan.
Thus the divisions among people of faith is not merely between Christians and Muslims — but divisions among Christians and within “denominations”.
This comes to mind as we celebrate the mystery of the Trinity – a Christian belief that there is ONE GOD — but a God with three distinct persons.
Here are words of Fr. Walter Burghardt (Lovely in Eyes Not His) as quoted in “Give us This Day” (June 2019):
The Father, John declares, ‘so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.’ (Jn. 3:16) The Son, Paul lyricizes, did not think His glory something to cling to, a prize, to clutch. He took our bone and marrow, our skin and sinews. Not because He needed them. He took what is ours only to give us what is His, to let us share God’s life, God’s glory. And the Holy Spirit? The Spirit is not only the love between Father and Son; the Spirit is God’s gift to you and me.”
A lesson we teach to 4 and 5 year olds — a lesson we were to learn ourselves in Kindgergarten — TO SHARE — is a lesson hard to put into practice. Egoism creates a world of mine and yours. There is little to no room for OURS.
Pope Francis said this week that “Unity is the greatest witness to the Christian faith.”
Rather than trying to explain the mystery of the Trinity, why don’t we just live the mystery: three persons — distinct — equal — living as One God.
In marriage/family counseling, I would often ask: would you rather be right or happy? For some people being right — or winning — is more important than anything. Thus, as long as there have been humans on the earth — there has been conflict.
To live with greater happiness, let’s:
- Be happy with what we have – rather than worrying about what others have or what we do not have. Let’s not compare ourselves to others.
- Be able to accept that we are not going to agree with anyone on everything — and that it is ok to have difference of opinions and beliefs. Does it really matter that Catholics and Methodists and Episcopalians and Baptists are all “branches” of the Christian faith —- and that Christians do not even make up the majority of people on the earth?
- Accept that I do not have to convert everyone.
- Understand that war in the “name of God” makes no sense.
- Believe that just because I do not agree with you does not mean I don’t like you or, even worse, that I hate you. We just disagree.
So many of us take blood pressure medication — and it has something to do with our salt intake — but not totally. We allow ourselves to get “worked up” — inflamed –by too many things that are not significant.
For me, watching The Vikings and the Tutors has been entertainment. But, it has also allowed me to look at human nature —and how humans really try to make God in our image rather than allowing ourselves to be shaped and reshaped, formed and reformed by the image of God.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit — make us one as you are One, Dear God.