Sybil 2000

Gospel text

Matthew 28: 16-20

16 The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had directed them. 17 When they saw him, they bowed down to him, but with certain doubts. 18 Jesus came to them and spoke to them in these terms, "A mandate which covers the whole universe has been entrusted to me. 19 Go and show all the nations how to become disciples, baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to assimilate all that I have told you. As for me, I remain with you until the end of time.

Inside a computer. Is there anything more complex? Yes. A human being, and our world.

Gospel commentary - Homily

Complexity of the world, complexity of God?

December 26, 2004 will remain in our memories: as we extend the Christmas festivities, a devastating tsunami ravaged the Indian Ocean, causing close to 230,000 deaths. It all started at the bottom of the sea, in a fault called a subduction zone, while a tectonic plate sinks under another creating a tension capable of raising the ocean when it yields. Yes, our beloved land is constantly on the move, for better and for worse. A similar phenomenon occurred later in the Sendai region of Japan on March 11, 2011, causing more than 16,000 deaths. And other tsunamis will occur, perhaps closer to us, and this as long as the earth exists. For a seeker of God, the question arises: why did He create a world so unstable, so changing, opening the possibility to such tragic situations? If you had the ability to create a world, would you have designed it like this?

If natural phenomena confuse us, what should we think of human phenomena now? A recent newspaper report presented the heartbreaking case of the children of parents who take drugs, children who spend their day alone in front of the TV or in their bassinet, eating standing or having never called their mother "mom" : very often, at two years old, they do not walk and do not speak yet. We are far from the tales of the Arabian Nights. Of course, all this covers only part of the picture, and one could spend many evenings telling wonderful stories about life and the miracles of love. But the fact remains that human reality is complex, that it includes areas of both light and shadow. And for a seeker of God, for whom visible reality is the reflection of invisible reality, a question haunts him: but who is He then? He feels far from the Greek world of Aristotle where the divinity was located in the perfect spheres of the sky: if perfection exists, it is not what we imagine.

Today's gospel, on Trinity Sunday, further complicates matters when these words are in the risen Jesus' mouth talking to the eleven, "Go and show all nations how to become disciples, baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit". We are not talking about God, but about Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We are far from the simple vision of the transcendence of Allah in Islam, or of the Lord Yahweh of Judaism; I can still hear this Dominican priest from Jerusalem recounting how an Israeli soldier once spit on his feet and called him an idolater. Note that we speak of "baptism in the name of". For Greeks, baptism could designate a boat that plunges into the water and sinks. For Christians, it means death to his old life and obtaining a new identity. Now, precisely, the identity that one receives is fundamentally Trinitarian.

Have you ever thought about your functioning as being intelligent? We are a consciousness that searches for light, and therefore try to answer an endless list of questions, to taste from time to time the pleasure of understanding and verifying that what was understood is correct. But these moments of personal enlightenment are not enough, because we need to find the right words to express what we understand and communicate with others. Remember Helen Keller, this blind and mute girl from birth and her prodigious leap in life when she discovered that the movements of her tutor's hand meant words and that these words referred to ideas: she had just discovered speech. Finally, understanding and saying what we understand by speaking is not enough: we are beings who can act, and therefore need to determine what is worth doing, and the way in which we determine what makes it worthwhile is largely driven by our understanding of what is right and wrong, and partly driven by what attracts us, what we like, what fulfills us: it is a mixture of practical intelligence and feeling. In describing who we are, I have just described at the same time God the Father, source of all light, the Son, Word of this light, and the Spirit, Love poured out in the world to transform it by action. So we are basically Trinitarian beings because we were created in the image of God.

Is all this simple? Not at all. The very reality of our being and the universe is complex, like God. It is when we want to simplify everything, reduce everything to what we can immediately understand, that we sink into error and dead ends. Understanding involves several steps. Knowing what to do takes time. When politicians and religious people speak of God as their immediate neighbor, well tamed, blessing everything they do with a beautiful smile, do they really speak of God or an idol they have made for themselves? On the other hand, the person who lets himself be questioned by this confusing land and this inextricable world of good and evil, opens up to the mystery of God. The final scene of the encounter with Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew takes place in Galilee, a word which means "circle of nations", a Katimavik in a way, a public place. The meeting does not take place in a sacred place or in a temple. Because in fact, our very being is a chapel, and no matter where we are, we carry with us the Trinitarian mystery of God. And if we are in motion, if our earth is in motion, why should it not be so with God?


-André Gilbert, Gatineau, February 2012