Wednesday, April 30, 2003

The Mysteries of God

It is said of Saint Augustine, when he was bishop of Hippo on the south shore of the Mediterranean in what is now Tunisia, that he promised his cathedral congregation a discourse on the Trinity which would make plain that mystery. Word quickly spread that their most learned and eloquent bishop would persuade the righteous and confound the heretical in this most complicated of Christian teachings. Augustine's bold promise soon came to preoccupy him, so he sought to clear his mind by taking a long walk along the beach, contemplating the mystery of God and wondering how he would express in words what his mind only dimly perceived in concepts. He happened to see a boy very busy with a little spoon trundling back and forth between the sea and a small hole he had dug in the beach. Augustine inquired of the boy what he was trying to accomplish. The boy answered with great enthusiasm, "I intend to bring all of the sea into this pit." Augustine replied, "Why do you attempt such impossibilities and waste your time?" The boy answered nonplused, "So do you, my dear bishop. I will as likely bring all the sea into this hole as you will bring all the knowledge of God into your head. They are equally possible. We have begun together, we shall finish together. But of the two endeavours, mine is more hopeful." The anonymous boy's concise rejoinder to the great African theologian has been preserved for future generations, which is more, unfortunately, than we can say of the bishop's sermon.

The above excerpt was taken from a sermon on the Trinity by Timothy Cooke.

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