Notes from Father Brendan

June 16, 2024

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

God is mysterious. He is infinitely greater than we are, his finite creatures. In many ways, throughout our lives the actions or inactions of God are quite mysterious to us. Ants are closer to developing interstellar space travel than we are to fully understanding God. With that being said, how do we approach these great mysteries?

Throughout the Gospels, Christ speaks in parables that sometimes seem as if He is speaking in riddles. Parables are a gift to the Apostles, for how else could Jesus explain the mysteries of God and salvation. Christ unveiled the mysteries of his kingdom through the use of parables. It was of vital importance that the Apostles understood the meaning of them, since they would be the first recipients of the Deposit of Faith. With the images of seeds, Christ taught that the expansion of the kingdom would come from within and overflow in the lives of his followers. The mustard seed is a beautiful analogy, as it is one of the smallest of seeds that grows to mighty proportions. This fitting image of the smallest action of God on our lives, the smallest beginning of conversion in our soul leads to immense holiness that, as we see in the lives of the saints, have an effect on the entire world.

In theology, in fact mainly in homiletics, we often employ the use of analogies. Yet, when trying to compare something earthly and finite with the eternal greatness of God, they fall quite short. These “limping analogies” are useful for us not because they are precise equivocations, but because they illumine our minds by allowing more light of the truth to be seen. Sometimes the analogies are helpful, but really quite incorrect. A very famous example is St. Patrick preaching to pagan Ireland about our Triune God. He turned their attention to the 3-leaf clover. It is before us as an image of something being one while also being three… well, kind of. That image is partially helpful, but in reality, an image like that commits the heresy of modalism. For God is not only one person who reveals himself in 3 different modes, like the clover is one plant with three leaves. God is three distinct persons within the one supreme Godhead. In the end, analogies fall short, but they are helpful. We just need to utilize the ones that are only partially wrong and not entirely wrong.

For, yes, as Jesus said, the Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed, but it is something still much greater than that.

Yours in Christ,

Fr. Brendan