Many third-term politicians probably experience what I wanted to call “third-term blues”; but since the phrase happens to be the title of an old New York Times article (as I discovered by “googling”), last-term doldrums should do.
Thinking of the fact that I am in the third and last 3-year term of my present elective office (which ends exactly a year and a month from today), coupled with nearing senior citizenship, calls to mind the first few lines of one of my favorite poems, Alfred Lord Tennyson’s Ulysses (I also find it amusing): “It little profits that an idle king,/ By this still hearth, among these barren crags,/ Matched with an aged wife, I mete and dole/ Unequal laws unto a savage race,/ That hoard and sleep and feed and know not me.”
Ulysses, of course, is the Roman variant of the Greek “Odysseus”—the Homeric King of Ithaca and architect of the victory of the Greeks against Troy (or Ilium; whence the title of the epic poem, Iliad)—whose journey home merited a sequel (the eponymous Odyssey). While the “hero’s journey” may be a common story template in literature, “odyssey” has become a special, more sophisticated term for “journey”, somewhat evocative of greater grandeur and adventure.
As an aside, it is perhaps a testimony to his humility and simplicity that, rather than using “odyssey”, the memoir of the late Senator Jovito Salonga is entitled Journey of Struggle and Hope (U.P. Center for Leadership, Citizenship, and Democracy, 2001). The book happens to be a resource for the proposition that the Plaza Miranda bombing on August 21, 1971, was a communist plot (rather than President Marcos’, as many believed).
Another true odyssey I should mention is that of the quiet and unassuming Kuya Bobby Castro whose An Entrepreneur’s Journey (printed in 2018 “just for family and friends”) is the history of his family and how they built Palawan Pawnshop into the institution that it is.
But, yes, the life of man on earth is an odyssey; or, to use a more theologically appropriate term, a “pilgrimage”; “for here we have no lasting city, but we seek for the city that is to come” as Saint Paul puts it (Heb 13:14). To push the analogy farther, we are to reach our destination on board Peter’s Boat—as Church, “people of God”—foreshadowed in sacred scripture by Noah’s Ark. More than a physical journey, however, our pilgrimage is also an “interior” journey: a time for growing in our knowledge and love of God.
Indeed, the ultimate purpose of human existence is to know God with our human intelligence aided by faith; to love God with our human freedom aided by grace; to serve God with all our being, with all our strength, with all our passions, with all our possessions, and with all our loves; and so to share in His eternal happiness.
Am writing this on a Sunday, the Sunday after Pentecost—Trinity Sunday—to be precise, which is a solemn commemoration of one of the most fundamental truths of the Christian Faith: that God is Three Persons in One Divine Substance. Here is a relevant excerpt from the classic and best-selling The Faith Explained by Fr. Leo J. Trese:
“None of us, I am sure, would care to have the task of explaining a problem in nuclear physics to a five-year-old child. Yet the gap between a five-year-old’s intelligence and the upper reaches of science are as nothing compared to the gap between the most brilliant human mind and the true nature of God….
“Theologians do of course cast some light upon the mystery for us. They explain that the distinction between the three Persons in God is based upon the relationship that exists between the three Persons. There is God the Father, who looks into his divine mind and sees himself as he really is, and forms a thought about himself….
“If the thought that God has of himself, then, is to be an infinitely complete and perfect thought, it must include existence, since to exist is of the very nature of God [‘I am Who am’]…It is this living thought which God has of himself, this living word in which he perfectly expresses himself, whom we call God the Son. God the Father is God, knowing himself; God the Son is the expression of God’s knowledge of himself. The second Person of the Blessed Trinity is called the Son precisely because, from all eternity, he is generated, he is begotten, in the divine mind of the Father. He is also called the Word of God, because he is the ‘mental word’ in which the divine mind gives utterance to the thought of himself. Now God the Father (God knowing himself) and God the Son (God’s knowledge of himself) contemplate the divine nature which they possess in common…they behold in that nature all that is beautiful and good—all, in short, that commands love—to an infinite degree. And so the divine will moves in an act of infinite love. This infinitely perfect, infinitely intense, living love which flows eternally from the Father and Son is he whom we call the Holy Spirit, ‘proceeding from the Father and the Son.’ He is the third Person of the Most Blessed Trinity”.
May the Blessed Virgin Mary, “Daughter of God the Father, Mother of God the Son, and Spouse of God the Holy Spirit” bring us closer to sanctity—to union with the Most Holy Trinity. (30.V.2021)