The results of a recent survey on divorced (or separated) couples indicates that many married couples face crises in their marriages when the wives began to earn more money than their husbands. It appeared that the higher wages of the wife was a major factor behind the many tensions in the marriage that eventually led to breaking up.
What happens when we begin to compare ourselves to others with the intention of dominating the other? The truth is that we waste our God-given power to love like God loves and we gain nothing when we choose to compare ourselves with others. When married couples begin to compare themselves, focusing on who has more than the other, they waste their God-given power to love like God, to humble themselves, to be forgiving, to endure difficulties, etc., and the marriage eventually breaks up.
Being created in the image and likeness of God, our vocation is to regard others as equals who mirror the divinity to each other and not as rivals to compete with. Being created by God in His own image and likeness implies two things. In the first place, we are all equal in God’s eyes, male or female, old or young, rich or poor, educated or not, and each one of us reflects God’s perfections to others. Secondly, because we are all equal in God’s eyes, we have a calling and strength from God to love like Him. There is no way that we can imitate God’s love for others when we spend the little spiritual energy we have in comparing ourselves with them.
Our faith in the Triune God teaches that the Father is truly God, the Son is truly God, and the Holy Spirit is truly God. They are equal and distinct divine persons – equal in their persons and in their love, power, and wisdom. There is no competition or conflict between the divine persons. In addition, based on this equality, there is a continuous love that flows in the Trinity as the divine persons offer themselves to each other totally and for all eternity. The Father eternally begets the only Son, the Son offers Himself to Father eternally, and the Holy Spirit flows eternally from the mutual love of Father and Son.
In today’s Gospel, we see that the divine persons work together for the very same purpose. Jesus said to His disciples at the Last Supper, “I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. But when He comes, the Spirit of truth, He will guide you to all truth.” The Spirit will come to complete the work of Jesus. There is no competition or rivalry here but perfect unity. In addition, there is nothing but mutual uninterrupted flow of love and life between the divine persons. Jesus said, “He (Holy Spirit) will glorify me, because He will take from what is mine and declare it to you. Everything that the Father has is mine.” In His humanity, Jesus never holds on to what is His but hands it all to the Father even in His death pangs, “Father into your hands I commend my spirit.” (Lk23:46) The Father gives all that He has to Jesus, the Son of God, and Jesus responds by giving all that He has to the Father through the Spirit for our sake.
Jesus never lost the sense of being equal with the Father, “I and the Father are one.” (Jn 10:30) Rooted first in this equality with the Father, Jesus Christ then offered Himself completely to the Father for our sake, “He (Jesus) did not count equality with God something to be grasped at but He emptied Himself taking the form of a slave, being born in the likeness of men.”(Phil 2:7) Thus this perfect creative and uninterrupted mutual self-giving in love in the Trinity begins with and is grounded on the equality of the divine persons.
What happens when we begin to treat others as equals and love them like God loves them? St. Paul reminds the Christians in Rome of what happens when we have the image of God restored in us by being justified by faith. When we become living images of God, redeemed by the blood of Jesus, we have “peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,” the strength to boldly face the afflictions of life, and the “hope that does not disappoint.” We have this when our eyes are open to see our new identity and solidarity as equals with each other in Jesus Christ.
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we are created in the image and likeness of God, we are now children of God who participate in the very life and happiness of the Triune God by the grace of Jesus Christ, and Triune God dwells and acts in us making our souls little heavens and sources of undying love. Why then are we not living in peace today? Why all the fighting and separations in our families, Church, society, community, etc.? Why do we lack the strength to endure trials and hardships of life? Why do we so easily get overcome by our pride and selfishness that we easily abandon our commitments? Why do we lose hope and throw in the towel so easily? Maybe we are using the little energy that we have in comparing ourselves to others, wasting our spiritual energy and gaining nothing.
There is a lot of negative competition in our world today. Comparing ourselves with others based on material wealth, we become either greedy or envious if we feel inferior, or we treat others like trash if we feel superior to them. Comparing ourselves based on gender, we either become sexists intolerant of others or we esteem the other gender to the point that we become unsatisfied with whom we are as male and female. Hence we have the confused transgender culture of our time. Comparing ourselves based on power, we either feel sad about our weakness before the more powerful or we abuse and manipulate others to meet our needs simply because we have the power to do so. This is evident in the issue of abortion wherein the right to life of the unborn is consistently denied and many people will refuse to treat our unborn brothers and sisters as human persons. Then there is the racist tendency in those who compare themselves based on race. Once our fundamental and natural equality with others is denied, we are dominated by our competitive tendency and desire to dominate others.
The bottom line is that it is useless and a waste of valuable spiritual energy for us to compare ourselves to others for the sake of domination. But if we seriously regard others with the God-given equality that they have and treat them as our equals, we enter into the peace, strength and joyful hope that this world cannot give or take away from us. We have all these because our vocation is to love like God loves i.e. by giving of ourselves completely and always to God through others such that we become better images of God and more closely united with God.
In this world, we need all our energy to love in the way that our vocations demands. The devil is tempting us constantly, our flesh is weak and sinful, we are so prone to selfishness, the world is persecuting us and tempting us constantly and there is the sufferings and pains of daily life. All these can diminish our sense of being made in God’s image and likeness and our natural equality with others. We need all the spiritual energy that we can to treat others as our equals always.
Aware of our constant need for this spiritual energy, God pours His own love into our hearts through this Eucharist to grant us a participation in that very love between the divine persons, “The love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Spirit that has been given to us.” This love that is both completely and eternally received and communicated in the Trinity is what is poured into our hearts from the moment of baptism and intensified in this Eucharist. This love is given to us for one reason alone – to love others as equals in imitation of that mutual love between the divine persons. By so doing, we reflect to others the love that we have received from God and we become more like God and persevere in our journey to full communion with God.
Let us use this energy well and refuse to waste it in comparing ourselves with others. In this way, we shall have in this life the very peace of God in Jesus Christ, the unconquerable strength of God in all our tribulations, and the hope that never disappoints because God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – is always with us and we take seriously the equality that God has bestowed upon each and every single one of us.
Glory to Jesus!!! Honor to Mary!!!