In the Trinity Sunday second reading, Romans 5, 1-5, the first sentence is long and gnarly in English. The subject and verb are hard to pin down, but it is at the very end. Because of grace, faith, and peace, we boast of the glory of God. It follows from the theme of the responsorial; in other words it is not about us humans, but rather about the glory of God. This a kind of praise of God, focusing on God and not on us. This seems so counter to current thinking of the modern narcissistic person.

The second thing we do boast about, not our glory, but about our afflictions. This is an interesting aspect of a theology of suffering. Suffering, long endured, actually effects something in the human person. Suffering changes us. Suffering conforms us to Christ, in the hope of the resurrection, for that is the completion of the story of the kerygma. There is no other way. I know for sure that in the midst of physical pain, it is difficult to know this. My doctor needs to reach for his prescription pad. The process of childbirth, the trajectory of aging, and stretching of the athlete, the endurance of the artist learning violin, are all examples of this suffering with the result of effecting change.

So all this leads to hope that what helps us is the love of God poured out into our hearts. This pouring out is not merely pouring of a glass of milk or cup of coffee, but rather a very strong word in the original, more like the tremendous waterfall of Niagara pouring out into the lower basin. Can you imagine such a rush of the love of God? The mystics know this well, but we too can experience this rush of love, when we are present to ourselves, to others, and to the divine and holy presence of God with and in us.

Alan Hartway

Theological Studies at Catholic Theological Union, Chicago IL; Master of Fine Arts, Poetics, at Naropa University, Boulder CO 1996; Master of Arts, Greek Classics, University of Colorado, Boulder CO 2012; Taught at Naropa University from 1999 through 2015; Chair of Interdisciplinary Studies from 2007-2015; Member of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, Kansas City Province since 1974; Pastor at Guardian Angel Catholic Church, Mead, CO, ministry from 2007-2020 Currently Retired

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