Faith at Work LXXII

July 2010

Last month I focussed on two, starting with the binary system; this month I thought I’d step up to the number three (which in a ternary system would still appear as “10”, that is using the digits 0, 1 and 2 instead of just 0 and 1). All of you, I’m sure, will know about Pythagoras and his famous equation that is variously misquoted as something like: “the squaw on the hippopotamus hide is equal to the sons of the squaws on the other two hides.” and there are various routes to that punch-line, but the original equation is easily proved or demonstrated – increase the power from 2 to 3 (or any other integer) and it becomes much more difficult; in general terms, the proposition is that for any “n” greater than 2, there are no integer values for x, y and z that satisfy the equation:

xn + yn = zn

This is known as Fermat’s last theorem, posed in 1637 when he claimed to have solved it but that the margin in his latest work was insufficient to contain his working. Indeed it was not proved sufficiently until 1994 when Andrew Wiles, building on work by others, offered his proof.

So, what’s special about three? Those of you who have become parents or grandparents will know the delight and joy that accompanies the appearance of the little one you’ve been waiting for. When you two become three, it helps to bind your relationship and gives you an entirely new kind of focus in your lives. Nothing will ever be the same again: the lives of all three of you are woven together whilst you seek to remain true to your individual selves. Giving birth to the next generation fulfils one of the purposes of marriage. Gaining and maintaining an appropriate balance for all three is one of the challenges that follow.

In the Christian tradition, we pray in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, otherwise known as the Trinity. Once we have acknowledged the presence of the creator God, we believe that he sent his only Son Jesus to be born as one of us and draw us back to God our Father. When Jesus left this earth, he promised that he would send his Holy Spirit to be our guide and comforter. The great mystery is that these three persons are in reality one and the same, namely the divine. We will never find an equation that ties these three together, but we can always find their influence in all we do, creating, reconciling and sustaining – here’s a prayer of blessing for a new-born child from Kate McIlhagga that links them all together:

may God hold you and keep you.

As I rock you in my arms, little one,
may Christ shield you and encompass you.

As I bend to kiss your cheek, little one,
may the Spirit bless you and encourage you.
AMEN

This site was developed to contain work by Mike Fox relating to the WMMTC course
and subsequent experience during ministry in the parish of Codsall and the BCUIM.