If you ever experience the
torture pleasure of studying Western philosophy, you will find out that there have been basic questions that humanity has always pondered. The relationship between the unchanging and the changing is one of the them. Another is the relationship between actual and potential. But the big question at the base of the others was the relationship between the one and the many. As in, one team of many players, or one forest of many trees. Or, another way, one player among many players, or one speeding ticket among many. In fact, right at the beginning of our consciousness, we start distinguishing and relating ones and manys.
It sounds simple, doesn’t it? And yet humanity has struggled with this relationship since its beginning. Divisions, fights, and wars all stem from the failure to reconcile that philosophical relationship between the one and the many. How does an individual person, family, or country, fit in with the many? How do all the individuals relate to each and other and find their place and form a harmony? Theories abound. These are the questions that people either waste time on with theoretical pondering or give no thought to because of the lack of time in real life.
Now if you don’t believe me, just check out the history of human religion. Are there gods, or just one God? If humanity couldn’t get it right with regard to the part of life given the highest place – the sacred – imagine what we can’t do with everything else! And if that doesn’t convince you, just look at your dollar bill. When the US was founded, it was with an eye to the great benevolent effort of a new world order. Remember E Pluribus Unum? One from many.
So, imagine what effect you could have on the world if you can start to get this, this conundrum of the one and the many. If you could really interiorize this, you could resolve the question of the divine and all human relationships.
You could save the world.
Why am I saying all this?
It’s because when the angel came to Mary in the announcement of Jesus, for the very first time, someone truly experienced that reconciliation inside them. For the very first time, God was experienced as both one and many, one God in three Persons. In that moment, the one God was revealed as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and for that all to happen, there had to be a Mother as well, right in the middle of it all.
And that’s how the world’s salvation began.
God presents us with Mary and calls us to His own heart because He has a gift for us. It’s to know the one God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It’s to really experience the mystery of the one and the many and interiorize it, to make it something living inside of us that grows, and shows up more and more in who we are and what we do. It’s a gift that allows us to be reconcilers in life, people who learn to find our own place and help others find theirs, who can resolve divisions and generate harmonious communion, who can make a unity out of many where every unique individual thrives, and can patiently bear all the hardness and violence opposed to it without giving up because it lives at the core of our being.
Who can give birth to Jesus’ life through us.
And bring about the salvation of the world.
For as in one body we have many members, and all the members do not have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. (Rom 12:4-5)
Happy belated feast of the Holy Trinity.