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Sunday Readings for June 19, 2011 (TrinityA)
By Fr. John Foley, S. J.
It is not so hard to know about the Trinity if you think back to the great story we have been celebrating for many weeks. Let’s tell it one more time.
God the Father invited people on earth to a lasting and loving relationship with him and with each other. “I want to be your God and I want you to be my people. My love for you is tender and precious. Won’t you love me in return?”
People understood and entered into the agreement. Abraham, Isaac, Moses, Elisha, Elijah, just to begin the list. But we humans kept choosing things closer to hand, like money and honors—barns full of them. Our refusal of God’s love became widespread.
How did God react to such rejection?
My people, what have I done to you? How have I offended you? Answer me. For your sake I scourged your captors and their first-born sons, but you brought your scourges down on me! My people, answer me (from “The Reproaches” on Good Friday)!
Eventually God tried a new and quite brilliant way. “I will show them what true love looks like. Since I am all love and nothing but love, I will go out to them completely, as love does. I will become one of them. I will live humanity to its depths, and they will see love in its full truth.”
So God was born as a human called Jesus. He told the people to love God above all things and their neighbors as themselves. He was the very heart of God, made flesh. One with the Father but different as well. And so the world knew about two persons in one God.
But many human beings had been hurt and betrayed, forced to live with their own mixed-up motives, selfishness and greed, and to live with those of others too. Love can get lost in such a world.
So God the Son plunged into this ocean of cruelty and loss, and he dove all the way to down to death. This was a display of the most profound insides of God.
To that point the disciples knew only two parts of God, Jesus and his Father (and they were not very sure about these). So before he left, Christ said this to them (I am paraphrasing):
Philip and the rest of you, if you know me, you know the Father. He is in me fully, and after I go back I will make a home in you by sending the Holy Spirit. This Comforter will be the very love that I and the Father have for each other and for you. That way I will be with you until the end of time!
He was talking about the third person of the Trinity, which snuggles close to our souls if we let it. If we let it. The Holy Spirit is graceful and deep and comforting, like a blanket in winter cold. It is the love between Father and Son.
How could God interact with us in these three very different ways? By being “plural,” that is, by having three persons within. How can God be one God? By not letting the number three be a divider but a plus sign. All three, in a great dynamic of love, are so close that they are One God.
And now we know the story.