By: Luis Chacon
Luis Chacon is part of the Mission Animation Team from our Province. He serves as our Public Relations Specialist at the Salesian Family Youth Center. This Article is written as part of our Mission Animation Plan.
If you would like to review the plan, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
The cross: Trinitarian event
The aim of this short article is to motivate the missionary vocation in the Salesian Family. I want to share my human and spiritual experiences from the theology of “The Crucified God” by Jürgen Moltmann.
Before talking about the Cross, I want to emphasize one of the most controversial topics in Christianity: the Holy Trinity. My intention is not to try to decipher this mystery or to make it more controversial. My intention is to share one of my motivations that my faith, my heart, and my reason find to go out of myself to meet the Other (God) in the face of the other (neighbor). Because in the end, the mission we accept is not a personal initiative, but a response to God the Father who suffered the death of his Son on the cross.
Holy Trinity: Community and Communion
To speak of the Holy Trinity is to speak of community: one God in three persons. Our God is a community God, community can exist without communion, but communion cannot exist without community. Living in a community means that you love and are loved, rather than surviving in a community where you just share time and space with someone else. A community without love has no communion, but communion with love can create community. God is love that creates community.
Holy Trinity: Communication amongst differences
The Trinitarian God is the example of perfect communion and communication. Each entity of the Holy Trinity is different and has something to communicate. If we compare the Holy Trinity to the relationship of 3 different people from a community, we see they’ll need to communicate within their differences to strive towards communion.
Incarnation, Cross, and Trinity
In Incarnation and in death the Holy Trinity is present. A reflection of the Incarnation that does not include the cross at some point, is an incomplete reflection since the Incarnation of the Logos is completed on the cross. Crucifixion for us means being fully human. This is why Jesus hanging on the cross becomes the center (but not the only) subject of Christian reflection.
In this short text I do not write about the attributes of God in an abstract and impersonal way, but about the attributes of God trinitarianly constituted from Rom 8, 32-33 “the Father suffers for the Son and in the Son.”
God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit suffer the death of the Son on the cross. God the Son can die because he is a human being like us (he is fully man and fully God). The Son is born, lives, and dies because he is a human being. His Father (God the Father) loves his only begotten Son as a Father would, and therefore when he sees his Son die suffering on the cross, his Father feels his suffering.
The Suffering of God: A source of compassion
God is not indifferent to the suffering of his children, God suffers when his children suffer, but this is not a justification of the suffering of people, rather it deeply reveals the being of God as compassion and love to the end. God is freely and voluntarily involved in the suffering of others (this is solidarity) and is also committed to solving the suffering of the innocent. God is involved in the suffering of others, by suffering with them, not as the reason for their suffering.
The involuntary and innocent suffering should not be justified, we cannot explain the suffering pedagogically to affirm the will of God. We cannot say that “suffering exists because God wants suffering to exist.” The resurrection of Christ also does not explain suffering, rather it gives us hope that God is the one who has the final word in suffering, sin, and evil.
The Son suffers and dies on the cross, the Father suffers for his love of solidarity, he feels the suffering of the Son and the suffering of all people until the last consequences. The Son even experiences the remoteness of God by exclaiming “Father, why have you abandoned me?’ The Son, despite his intimate and loving relationship with his Father, experiences loneliness and the feeling of abandonment.
Role of the Holy Spirit in the event of the cross and resurrection
The Son loves his Father and that is why he suffers when he feels abandoned by his Father at the moment of his death. The Father loves his Son, that is why he suffers when he sees him die. The Spirit is the one who gives life to the dead, the Spirit is the one who gives love to the abandoned. The trinitarian attribute of God that we reflect on today is the unconditional and, therefore, infinite love that is born from the pain of the Father and the death of the Son. This same unconditional and infinite love is bestowed on the abandoned to give them the possibility and strength of new life.
The function of the Spirit is to give life and love to the abandoned and to restore community, communion, and communication. Therefore, the resurrection of the abandoned Son reunites God with God for an intimate communion. The personal resurrection should help us be empathetic with the suffering of others.
The Salesian Family is missionary by DNA
When Don Bosco founded the Society of Saint Francis de Sales, creating missionaries was on his mind. His dream at the age of 9, was to get out of himself and meet others which is now a crucial part of the Salesian charism. The model of the Salesian mission is to bring out the best of others; where beasts become sheep and sheep become shepherds.
We can compare God who loves and suffers with his children with those that have suffered during the pandemic. Although we may not have suffered in our own flesh, we have suffered by seeing the people we love suffer, just as God did. The compassion of God the Father on the cross enables us to suffer with them.
Today many of us have suffered from the pandemic, from the ravages of COVID-19 on our own or in the body of someone we love. We have felt loneliness, abandonment, and anxiety ourselves or through others.
Looking at Jesus on the cross reminds us that we are not alone, that we are not the only ones suffering. Looking at the cross requires us to leave ourselves, it asks us to commune in our communities, it asks us to communicate what we think, believe, and feel.
The crucified God experienced the abandonment and loneliness that many of us experienced in our homes during the quarantine. Today personal suffering helps us be more empathetic with the suffering of others. That is the mission of the Salesian Family, to seek the means and strategies to “be with”.
Today the suffering in first world countries is closer. Many times we are focused on what we have and on what exists only in our immediate vicinity. The experience of weakness and fragility can help us think about the weakest, not only in our immediate territorial environment, but the rest of the world. Experiencing fragility helps me feel sorry for all those who do not have the resources to care for themselves. Looking at the cross helps us to get out of ourselves and reach communion with others.