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Mystery of Love

John 16:12-15

The Rev. Jon Roberts

30 May


Good Shepherd Episcopal Church

Venice, FL

12 “I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.


The Holy Trinity by Luca Rosetti da Orta, 1738-1739, St. Gaudenzio Church at Ivrea, Torino

Only in the mystery of love can logic be possible.

There once was a man who loved his country and by his side was his granddaughter, who loved him. She loved to hear the stories of his time serving in the war. Oh, how much he loved to tell them while looking down his glasses. One day, he had a hard time finding those glasses so in knowing all the nooks and corners, she helped him find them. She had a hard time figuring out places and events. He'd traveled almost everywhere, so he helped her find them. One day he turned to his granddaughter with a loving gaze, who wanted to know what the United States looked like. So, he tore a map of the United States out of his magazine and cut it into many small pieces. He gave them to her and said, "Go into the other room and see if you can put this together. This will show you our whole country today." After some minutes, she returned and handed him the map, correctly fitted and taped together. The grandfather was surprised and asked how she had finished so quickly. "Oh," she said, "On the other side of the paper is a picture of Jesus. When I got all of Jesus back where He belonged, then our country just came together."

At the great, historical and ecumenical counsels of Nicea and Constantinople, over sixteen hundred years ago, the beliefs and many sections of the Church came together, as it discovered underneath was the core of the Trinity. It was a time when the mystery of love made logic possible.

Who can say how the first humans ever came up with the concept of making fire? Who can say how we ever came up with the Pythagoreum Theory, the double-helix, Avagadros Number, the meaning of Pi; and what exactly does Quantum Physics look to accomplish? The things that cannot be explained draw us closer, inspire and motivate us to think as the rationale creatures God made us to be. We strive to make our own mark, to put forth our own opinion and theories so that one day our thoughts can be immortalized in some chapter of human history. It is so easy to get caught up in the frenzy of discovery and solution to problems, “following the science” that we elevate what is empirical and what is measurable above all else. These, however do not always explain our world, and sometimes they can often complicate it. We may come to know the world by logic but we come to love the world by its mysteriousness.

A true story of a beautiful mind needs to be told here as it relates to a person who was led by logic, only to discover that the world cannot be fully understood without love. A brilliant man was born in 1928 in Bluefield, West Virginia. Raised by his father, an engineer, and his mother, a stay at home teacher, this young man grew in knowledge, and while in High School attended college. That may be more the norm today, but this was not the case in that year. Further yet, in three years he earned his Masters degree from Carnegie Mellon, on a little thing called the Nash Equilibrium. It was named after him, the founder, John Forbes Nash. Nash. In 1994 earn the Nobel Laureate Prize in the field of Economic Sciences. The accolade came only later after battling a life of paranoid schizophrenia. He would learn how to deal with his dis-ease, but it was a painful confrontation with his acuity of reason and logic.

Before I share with you how he dealt with it, first let us explore a little of his research without, of course, getting too logical. Strategist from all over used his theory. From market economics, evolutionary biology and war strategy. He was world renowned. In a nutshell, John always studied patterns of behavior. He developed a mental game and his theory was based on an equilibrium. One player would make a choice for the best result, knowing beforehand that the other player would make their best move giving them the best result. It's like that in chess. You make a move based on how the other player usually moves. Even if it is a game with multiple players an equilibrium is struck only when all of them make the best move they can based on intuition and strategy, but ultimately on the patterns of their opponent’s previous behavior. In a way it is a strategy to predict an outcome.

Nash, however, became riddled by delusions, claiming that a secret conspiracy was at work and making an attempt to overcome the government. He wrote several letters secretively and led a worried life, fearful that he was always being watched. This was the paranoia that haunted his brilliant and beautiful mind. A life so rich in logic and pattern was now being torn asunder by the illogical and unreliable. What was he to do? The answer came from the relationship and loving devotion displayed towards him by his wife. She provided one loving move after another convincing him of what was real in order to obtain the best result. His life was cut up into a million pieces and he didn't know how to put them back together. It wasn't until it flipped over to the other side, using his heart, instead of the mind, when he realized that we do not live by what is entirely logical. We live by what is mysterious. There were still the ghosts in his head, but now, by way of love, he learned how to deal with them.

Our reality is based on those we love. We cannot always explain or articulate why that is. We just know it, because by faith, we feel it. This brings our hearts and minds to the understanding of the Trinity. In every way we try to explain it, we are not in love of its logic; how well it fits into a formula. It sometimes spools off our tongue, and we take it for granted, as a discovery of long ago. Yet it resides in the present and we are in love because it embodies the mystery of our own life. No one has meaning or purpose without this thing called the Trinity, that to which we cannot fully explain. The Godhead consists of three persons sharing one nature. The two economies of Jesus Christ are human and divine. What kind of memorial is this? By rote we sing, "Holy, Holy, Holy" because the three are intimately and perfectly related to one another. Holy is the King. Holy is the Lamb. Holy is the Counselor. To the core of our bones we sing and we cry because our lives have been born out of battles, and God has flipped them over; flipped over the graves of our soul to reveal our salvation in Christ. Within His Sovereignty, within His Sacrifice, within His Spirit is where our Pentecost faith lives and is able to surpass our logic. God knows when we are ready when he sees how much we depend on love.

This is what Jesus meant when he said, “I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.[1] This is the simple truth that puts us back together, reveals his truth and makes sense out of everything. At the Cross, we find the intersection of faith and reason, where we understand, “only in the mystery of love can logic be possible.”[2]

[1] John 16:12-15
[2] John Forbes Nash (Character), A Beautiful Mind, Universal Studios, 2001.

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