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Thoughts of a Catholic convert

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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Trinity

Thinking of of the Trinity, I thought I'd post part of a homily on the subject by Fr. Rob Marsh SJ (you can read the whole homily at his blog) ...

Trinity Sunday Year C - Rob Marsh SJ

June 10th, 2001

Did you ever see a triptych, one of those altar pieces or icons with three panels? Well I’ve got three images to look at today. One is a photograph of the first moon landing. Second is a painting. It’s a naked man with an IV in his chest and purple lesions over his body. The title is “Christ with AIDS.” The third image is a kind of composite, I guess, a video monitor showing clips from a bunch of films—there’s Pearl Harbour, there’s Shrek, there’s Moulin Rouge. I’m not sure quite what happens when you put these three images side-by-side but let’s see.

The films first. Nothing more obsesses us as a culture than love. You can’t sing a song or make a film without romance. But no one ever sings songs or makes films where love is straightforward. There must be obstacles. The course of true love must run awry. There must be a fly in the ointment. Every Ben Affleck has his Josh Harnett. Every Shrek has his Lord Farquadd. And though Ewan McGregor sings his silly love songs to Nicole Kidman there has to be an evil Duke to ruin the day. Our perfect image of perfect love is one-on-one. Two’s company and three’s a crowd. The dreaded love triangle! Somehow we have to get rid of the third side. Find a dragon to swallow it whole. A war to heal it or a death for its dissipation. Is it any wonder, then, we have trouble with Trinity? As love goes, one-on-one won’t do for God. There has to be a third. What we view as a fascinating evil, God sees as essential.

Second panel. 20 years ago this week the plague came upon us in confusion and horror and fear. And, while tens, then hundreds, then thousands of young men were dying and a new public horror of blood was being born, an ancient vision of God was being roused. How do you name God when the plague is raging? Enemy or friend? Consoler or nemesis? For some it was clear: God is God of the pure. Everett Koop, who was Surgeon General, couldn’t even talk about AIDS at the White House because the Christian Right saw it as God’s punishment for being queer. It is an ancient idea. Bad things never happen without a reason. You must have deserved it. It’s your own fault.

Which is just the same thing they said about crucifixion 2000 years ago. It’s your fault. God has cursed you. No one mocks God. But, cross or sickbed, you can only keep that up if you can keep your distance, can keep compassion at bay, if you do not know. You can only name God destroyer if you can keep God distant, at bay, unknown.

But Jesus could never keep God at bay. He knew the name of God, knows where he belongs. God has AIDS ............



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