Rising Above Our Animal Brain

If we had relied on Moses and the Old Testament prophets and even Jesus’ New Testament disciples to spread the word of God under their own power, not a letter of it would have reached 21st century humans. They started out as mortals, after all, and were thus handicapped by our “what’s in it for me” animal brain. That selfish hunk of flesh is fed by fear of mortality. Even in the first reading for the Feast of the Holy Trinity, there’s an aura of quid pro quo in Moses’ message to his people (Dt 4:32-34, 39-40):

You must keep his statutes and commandments that I enjoin on you today, that you and your children after you may prosper, and that you may have long life on the land which the LORD, your God, is giving you forever.”

Do this for that.

Given that Jesus had such challenging raw material to work with in ensuring his message achieved immortality, the fact we 21st century humans have received it is one of his greatest miracles. Our gospel reading tells us “When they all saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted.” (Mt 28:16-20)

Paul, who started out as an enemy of these doubting Thomases, did everything he could to add fear to the doubt that once plagued them. Until his Road-to-Damascus conversion, that is, and the spirit of God changed him into a son of God—and therefore a brother of all Christ’s disciples. The message he gave the Romans in Sunday’s second reading (Rom 8:14-17) is as relevant to us disciples today:

You did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received a Spirit of adoption, through whom we cry, “Abba, Father!”

By adopting that Holy Spirit, all disciples share in Christ’s sonship, and in teaching it to all nations, create brothers who join the Holy Trinity in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

That trinity is immortal because it teaches us to live out of love, not to survive out of fear and uncertainty. It becomes not only all we know, but who we are. Living by God’s light, we can extinguish every shadow of animal-brain doubt.

–Tom Andel

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