Bottom line: Jesus - who has always existed as the Wisdom at the Father's side - has much more to tell us. He alone can satisfy our desire to know - by bestowing the Spirit of truth that makes possible an eternal relation with the Trinity.
Today we celebrate the Feast of the Most Holy Trinity. What I will argue this Sunday is that the Trinity - an eternal relationship with the Triune God - is the one thing that will make you or me happy. We have a lot of misconceptions about what will make us happy. To illustrate misconceptions about happiness in heaven, I begin with a humorous story.
It happened that a cat died and since it was a good cat, it went to heaven. Now, St. Martin de Porres takes care of animal heaven - at least the section for cats and mice. Being very kind to small creatures, St. Martin asked the cat if he had any special requests. The cat replied, "All my life I slept on hard surfaces. I want a nice fluffy blanket."
After the cat came a group of mice. St. Martin asked them what they wanted. The head mouse replied immediately. "We had tough lives on earth," he said, "everyone was always chasing us. We want roller skates." So St. Martin outfitted them with tiny skates.
A few weeks passed and St. Martin checked up on the cat. The cat was the picture of happiness. "My blanket is so comfortable," he said, "that I never want to leave it." Then he added, "By the way, thanks for the Meals on Wheels!"
Well, as this story illustrates, it is easy to have misconceptions about what will make us happy in heaven. Unlike those mice, we probably don't imagine speedy roller skates, but we might think of other things: nice food, comfortable surroundings, good friends, beautiful music.* Those things are great and in some way they might be part of heaven, but this Sunday Jesus tells us what we really need to be happy.
To survive we need things like food, clothes and shelter, but to really be happy we need something more. Jesus says to us, "I have much more to tell you." To be happy you and I need knowledge, truth. Let me explain.
Aristotle - who is considered the world's greatest philosopher - began his study of human psychology with this statement, "All men by nature desire to know." We delight, he said, in the knowledge that comes to us through our senses - sight, hearing, taste, touch.
To illustrate this desire for knowledge, consider the example of Carl Sagan. You remember him - the astronomer who narrated the television series titled, "Cosmos." Shortly after producing that program, he was diagnosed with luecemia. He came to Seattle's Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, hoping for a cure. While in Seattle, he said that he wanted a few more years of life, so he could keep learning about the cosmos.
We humans have an insatiable desire to know. Carl Sagan spent his life studying the cosmos. Other people have different interests: the Civil War, railroads, archeology and so on. Many people today have become political junkies, gathering news about elections, polls and politicians. Some can't find out enough about movie stars and athletes. And all of us - let's be honest - find it hard to resist a juicy bit of gossip. We want to know.
Of course, we hunger for more than random facts. If we start reading a good novel, pretty soon we have a hard time putting it down. Even though the characters are fictional, we want to know what happens to them.
And even if we know how a story turns out, we can experience great delight in re-reading it. We discover new insights. This summer I am going to the Shakespeare festival. I have read and seen the plays several times, but I am still anxious to see them again. And I am hardly alone. I've talked to young people who have seen certain movies, over and over. They know the plot by heart, but each time they experience a new joy of discovery.
I think heaven will be something like that. Our relationship with the Trinity will involve a continual joy of discovery. Think about it. Today's first reading describes how "wisdom" was with God when he made the cosmos. Wisdom is Jesus - God the Son, the Second Person of the Trinity. And by the power of a Third Person, the Holy Spirit, we enter a relationship with Jesus and the Father. It is the greatest voyage of discovery anyone can undertake.
I came across a nice quote on this - by one of my favorite novelists, Dean Koontz. He has a character named "Odd Thomas" who says: "I tend to believe in the traditional architecture of life and afterlife. This world is a journey of discovery and purification. The next world consists of two destinations: One is a palace for the spirit and an endless kingdom of wonder, while the other is cold and dark and unthinkable."**
This Sunday I won't get into how a person can pervert the desire to know and wind up in hell - a cold, dark, unthinkable place. What I want to emphasize is that the Blessed Trinity fulfills our deepest longing.
St. Paul says, "hope does not disappoint." God has given each of us an insatiable desire to know. When all is said and done, only one can satisfy that hunger. This Sunday he says, "I have much more to tell you." Now, that's an understatement! But Jesus adds, "you cannot bear it now." We need the Holy Spirit - the "Spirit of truth."
So that is the invitation today: Come to Jesus. He is the wisdom, at the Father's side, that fashioned the universe - including such creatures as you and me. He has placed in our hearts a desire to know. We can pervert that desire, but we can also accept his offer: "I have much more to tell you." Jesus - who has always existed as the Wisdom at the Father's side - has much more to tell us. He alone can satisfy our desire to know - by bestowing the Spirit of truth, making possible an eternal relation with the Trinity. Come to Jesus. By the power of the Holy Spirit, come to Jesus - eternal wisdom, at the Father's side.
*And all of us have heard about the supposed Islamic version of paradise, where righteous men each get their own harem. It brings a chuckle, but I wonder if Muslims take it more seriously than we our cute talk about heaven as a bridge party or a golf course in the sky.
**Odd Thomas, chapter 3
From Archives (Trinity Sunday - Year C):
Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C
Audio Files of Homilies (Simple Catholicism Blog)
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Fr. Brad's Homilies
Fr. Jim's Homilies
Fr. Michael White's Homilies ("messages")
Bulletin (St. Mary's Parish)
Parish Picture Album
Parish Picture Album
My bulletin column (May 30, 2010)
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