Maria Kozakiewicz

WORD MADE FLESH

Trinity Sunday – May 22, 2016
Proverbs 8.22-31 | Psalm 8 | Romans 5.1-5 | John 16.12-15
May 16, 2016

In an ancient, fifth-century Roman church in Trastevere lies the body of a young woman named Cecilia.

Cecilia, a well-born, wealthy woman died because she would not renounce Christ. Her Roman persecutors tried to kill her discreetly, by suffocating her in her bath at home. The young woman survived and, while bearing the torture, sang.

Finally, a soldier used his sword to cut her neck, but failed to kill her instantly. Her body was initially buried in the catacombs of St. Calixtus. After a few centuries, she was to be moved to the church in Trastevere.

People prayed to her and centuries passed. In 1599 the tomb was opened, and it appeared that Cecilia's body did not suffer from corruption.

God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit. -

'God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit.'

Romans 5.5

The Romans were amazed and Stefano Maderno, a 23-year-old sculptor, was asked to recreate in marble the graceful saint who looked as if she were sleeping.

Maderno carved in white marble a life-like statue of a young women lying in a position which death forced her to take, with face turned away and partially hidden, as if she desired privacy in this difficult moment.

It is one of the most moving statues I know. What, however, strikes the eye immediately is the arrangement of her fingers. One hand has three fingers extended and the other one.

To Catholics, such gesture is no mystery - the saint was proclaiming her faith in the Holy Trinity - three persons in one.

She was not expecting her body to be seen even by other Christians. Unless reclaimed by the family, bodies of convicts were flung into the Tiber, not placed under the altar of a church.

In my heart of hearts, I sense that dying Cecilia used that gesture to comfort herself. Dying in pain and loneliness, surrounded by enemies, an object of hatred and probably also cruel jokes, she needed to remind herself that God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit who are one were with her.

Omnipotent and mysterious, infinitely powerful and wise, they were forever loving her, she who was only a speck of dust, but to God a beloved one.

She must have been contemplating the great deeds of the creation of God the Father, the ultimate sacrifice of God the Son who became her brother and the sweet wisdom of God the Holy Spirit.

With her neck wounded, she could no longer sing out her love for the Triune God, so she arranged her fingers to speak for her, to sing out that her God, unlike the gods worshipped in pagan temples, was the source of her human dignity that could not be destroyed by any human or demonic power.

"What are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you should care for them?" (Psalm 8.4)

We all experience fear, suffering, loneliness and even hopelessness. Whenever it happens, it is good to turn away from our current sorry state of affairs and concentrate on God's glory and love.

Suddenly we are no longer the centre of our tiny universe filled with our own grief and shadows; we become part of God's universe, filled with his power and joy, a mysterious dwelling place of the Holy Trinity.

Then, and only then, will we know that all will be well.