Three Persons, One God. 100% God, yet 100% man. To save your life, you must lose it. The first shall be last, and the last shall be first. Christianity is full of seeming contradictions. Life is full of contradictions. The Christian must be comfortable with these apparent contradictions. In fact, part of the mystery of Christ, Himself, is that He was a sign of contradiction. As Christians, we must also be signs of contradiction.
Why? People of most faiths, even many who call themselves Christians, don’t like contradictions. They like to focus on just one side or the other. It’s just easier. It’s too hard for them to hold them in tension. Yet, God Himself, Jesus Christ reveals the Truth in the tension between two concepts that seem to not belong together. The Truth, in a sense, requires tension. It requires what looks like contradiction. Many faiths reject the Trinity because it’s too hard to say 3 and 1 together. Heresies of the past denied the incarnation – God becoming man – because it’s hard to explain or understand that a Person could be both fully God and fully man. “Faith alone” becomes the response because that’s easier and quicker to explain than the truth of the requirement of a certain tension between faith and works (See James 2:14-26). If we as Christians don’t hang on to the tension, no one will.
Where? Where do we become signs of contradiction? In our everyday life. In our homes, our neighborhoods, our schools. In our everywhere. Just look for the opportunities. Be joyful in the midst of the struggles that surely come our way. Do the right thing when no one else will, even if it causes you pain. Go out of your way to help those who cannot help themselves and who can never repay you (see Luke 6:27-36).
How? Be aware of the multiple contradictions that confront us every day. For example, as a parent, truth and love often seem to contradict each other. One time, one of the boys found an evaluation Trey had filled out for City League football regarding that child’s speed. Trey put down that he was slow. When the child accidentally stumbled upon it, he was appalled. “Dad is mean. How can he love me and put things like that out to the public?” Because it was true. We explained to him that love and truth are always linked together. It would be unloving to that child to tell him that he was fast when he is not. That allows him to realize that speed may not be his gift. Love goes beyond just delivering the truth though. We went on to tell him that he certainly had other gifts – his quickness, his size, and his smarts. God could use those gifts to do something special through him. We told him that we would help him work on his speed if that was important to him. Love in action met the truth in that moment. We revealed to him that what seemed like a contradiction was in fact the tension where the truth is found and from which good comes.
The Church provides still more signs of contradiction that can be used to teach this – the Sacraments. What looks like a cracker is something worthy of worship because it isn’t an it – it is a Person, the second Person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ Himself. It’s the truth, but it seems to be a contradiction. In reconciliation, it is Father Joe’s voice that we hear say we are forgiven, but it really is Jesus who forgives – again, an apparent contradiction.
As Catholics, as Christians, recognize the contradictions, the tension between things as they may seem and as they really are. Even more, look for opportunities to be signs of that contradiction. It is frequently those situations that God uses to draw others to Himself through us. Still further, teach your children not to just settle for one or the other. We have a both/and Faith. We believe that reality contains both the visible and the invisible. We believe that the one God is three Persons. We believe that God and man were fully united in the Person of Jesus. We believe that Truth, even when it hurts, is still perfectly consistent with Love. We just need to live and teach by our actions what we believe. We need to be comfortable being signs of contradiction!