Pastor’s Column June 10-11, 2017
God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.
This weekend we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, and our three readings are three of the shortest readings for a Sunday Mass I can remember. Perhaps Holy Mother Church wants to give her priests extra time in order to fully explain the Mystery of the Trinity, one God in three divine persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It is the central mystery of our faith, but one that is very difficult to understand and even harder to explain. Great saints with theological minds much more gifted than my own have tried over the centuries. One is the great St. Patrick who used his famous prop of the shamrock to communicate the idea of three persons in one God. Then there is St. Augustine, one of the greatest theologians the Church has ever known. There is a famous story that one day St. Augustine was walking along the southern beach of the Mediterranean Sea contemplating the mystery of the Trinity when he saw a small child. The child was taking a shell full of seawater and emptying it into a small hole. When asked what he was doing, the child answered that he was putting all the water from the sea into that hole. Augustine informed the child that it was impossible to do such a thing. The child replied that it would be easier to do that than for Augustine to understand the Trinity.
The Most Holy Trinity is a mystery that can never be exhausted, nor is it a mystery that will ever be fully understood. Instead, the Trinity is a mystery that is meant to be entered into, because at its heart the mystery of the Trinity is a mystery of love. Our God is in his very being is a tri-personal relationship of love. From all eternity the Father pours out his love on the Son who receives and returns that love to the Father, and the love they share is the Holy Spirit. Another great Saint, Irenaeus, referred to the Son and the Holy Spirit as the two hands of the Father who carry out God’s mission to the world. God the Father sent His Son, God’s Word, to take on our human flesh and become the visible image of the invisible God. The Son offered his life for the forgiveness of our sins in obedience to the Father, becoming our Savior and Redeemer, fully revealing the depth of God’s love. And after the Son completed his mission and returned to the Father, the Father and the Son sent the gift of the Holy Spirit so that He might come to dwell in us and enable us to share and participate in God’s divine life and love.
This insight that our God is a relational God has important implications for the way we live our lives. We are made in God’s image and likeness. We too are relational beings, created by love, out of love, and for love. God does not just want our obedience or respect or fear, He wants our love. He wants to be in communion with us. And when we are in communion with God, we are also in communion with everyone else in communion with God, that is, with each other. Our God is not some distant power or cold, impersonal force, but rather at the very core of his being is himself a triune community of love, Father, Son, and Spirit. Our Holy Father Pope Francis once put it like this: “God is not something vague, our God is not something vaporous, he is concrete, he is not an abstraction, but has a name: ‘God is love.’ It is not a sentimental or emotive love, but the love of the Father that is the origin of every life, the love of the Son who dies on the cross and rises, the love of the Spirit, who renews man and the world. Understanding that God is love does us a lot of good, because it teaches us to love, to give ourselves to others as Jesus gave himself to us, to walk with us. Jesus walks with us along the road of life.” To paraphrase a Burt Bacharach song, what the world needs now is love, God’s love.