“God so loved the world that he gave his only son.” (John 3: 16a)
Giving out of love—a rather apt point for reflection today as we remember and celebrate two occasions: The Solemnity of the Most Blessed Trinity and the 150th Birth Anniversary of Jose P. Rizal.
One of the more dynamic representations of the Blessed Trinity is in the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola. In the meditation on the Mystery of the Incarnation, Ignatius suggests that we picture the Father, Son and Spirit in conversation as they watch the world, how they see it lead itself to destruction, and how they decide to send the Son to save this world.
We are often told that this is what sets our Christian God apart—he becomes incarnate, God-with-us. It is awesome to know that our God is among us. But let us take it a step further or deeper. What is also awesome—equally awesome—is his being God-with-us is a very conscious choice.
They, the Blessed Trinity, view the world messing up. They talk. They decide to send the Son. On a purely human level it doesn’t make sense, why send someone you love to his suffering and death? It was a conscious choice. It was a choice made out of love.
Love then—which we often “misread” as emotional, as “simply” a feeling, etc.—is, on the contrary, one of the most conscious choices we can make. And to make a conscious choice is to make a choice with freedom or, as Ignatius would put it, a choice without inordinate attachments.
The choices we make are often done out of a sense of duty or based on a perceived set of expectations that come with our roles. Our families have a set of expectations, as well as our workplace, our friends, the different groups we belong to or interact with, society in general, our being son/daughter, brother/sister, etc.
It is interesting to see how a number of people I know who had lived abroad alone, often to study, realized that much of how we live our life is based on the expectations that come with our roles. When they are abroad, where not many people know them, they could actually choose the way they live, be who they are and choose to be what they want.
Rev. Elizabeth Braddon writes in her homily (“Living the Life within You”) a point very often discussed by Parker Palmer, author, lecturer, educator, in his writings: “‘Is the life that I am living the same as the life that wants to live in me?’”
He begins with an image that we arrive in this world with birthright gifts, and then spend the first half of our lives abandoning them or letting others disabuse us of them. We are surrounded by expectations and slots to fill. In families, schools, workplaces and religious communities, we are trained away from the true self toward images of acceptability.
There are pressures that can move us away from our true selves, and instead we start wearing other people’s faces. There are sometimes events or abuses that create distortions of our true selves. So how do we get back?
The Blessed Trinity in its conscious choices in the Mystery of the Incarnation shows us the way back to our true self, our authentic self as a person, to make conscious choices out of love. “God so loved the world that he gave his only son.” We are most our self, our true self when we love.
Some thoughts on Jose P. Rizal as we remember him and celebrate his 150th birth anniversary; I was reading some articles on him in the Internet and you see once more the talent and the heroism of the man. His brilliance and character are amazing, fluent in over 20 languages, skilled and talented in various fields or disciplines, a man of insight and depth, a man passionate about the things he valued in life, a man who made conscious choices out of love.
He was pursuing another academic degree when he found out that his mother was losing her eyesight. Thus, he chose to pursue medicine to become an ophthalmologist to cure his mother. After years of studying and training in various countries, he came home and operated on his mother. A conscious choice out of love, to which he dedicated years of hard work with that one goal and inspiration, to cure his mother whom he loved.
His love for our country is also a source of inspiration, a love that inspired the revolution that won for us our freedom over 113 years ago. He was a man of many passions and loves, but the things he valued most, to these he offered the best of what he had to give. To our country and our aspiration for freedom then—and now—he offered his very life.
Making conscious choices out of love, “God so loved the world that he gave his only son,”—this healed and saved a fallen world; this won freedom for our country that for four centuries suffered under the tyranny of a colonial power.
Making conscious choices out of love gives us freedom as an individual, leading us back to our true and authentic self, a loving person giving out of love. It gives us freedom as a people and as a country and leads us back to our dignity and destiny.
We celebrate these two occasions today, The Solemnity of the Most Blessed Trinity and the 150th Birth Anniversary of Jose P. Rizal. May we remember how these transformed a world because of the conscious choices out of love that were made that gave us our freedom in this world and in eternity.