B Cycle – Feast of the Holy Trinity 21
Dt. 4:32-34, 39-40
Thinking of the Trinity, I remember a parish discussion group which met in the homes of its members. Six couples, twelve people, discussing the gospel of the coming Sunday. The one discussion I remember clearly was one which had us responding to a question concerning which member of the trinity we most identified with. As you might guess, being Catholic in the mid 1970’s, we did not relate in a personal way with either the Father, Son, or Holy Spirit. We knew a lot about them, intellectually but personally we lacked understanding.
The truth of that lack of knowledge was challenging to most of the group. Yet, it was Jesus that most of the participants at least understood his role in salvation. What they knew was still intellectual not personal and because it was intellectual their response was without emotion. I remember thinking inwardly, where is the wonder and awe at this great act of love on the part of the Father and on the part of Jesus. How can we capture that awe unless we have an encounter with the living God? Our faith must touch our core, where our passion resides not our intellect where reason and barriers exist controlling our response to God.
Kind David comes to mind as he dances with all his might before the ark of the Lord, and how his wife was disgusted with his display of joy before the Lord (2 Sam.6:14-16), We are just as judgmental today about such a display of exuberance before God in response to his love for us. Rules of decorum bind us and restrict us as we worship during mas, and those same concepts of proper behavior cause us to hold back making it difficult to respond to the presence of the Spirit as it tries to break through and open us up to the wonder of God.
Listen to Moses in our first reading who had his own encounter with God in the burning bush. Moses spoke with God and listened to God, but it was not without some initial reluctance on his part. But that is the beauty of a growing relationship with God, it grows from those initial steps to a walking on water faith and trust in God. Moses said to the people, “did anything so great happen before? Was it ever heard of? Did anyone ever hear the voice of God speaking to them?” There it is the simple gospel message we must like Moses respond to with complete and utter awe and amazement. God chose us and has made it possible for us to be in his presence cleansed of all that we believe separates us from him because he freed us from our sins, past, present, and future by the Blood of the Lamb.
Our approach to faith seems to remain stuck in the 1970’s where we have difficulty relating to a God who loves us, a Savior who not only came to show us the Father but who died for our sins, and a Spirit God promised to send us to teach us and remind us of all Jesus said and did (Jn.14:26), Moses in that first reading is reminding the Israelites to stay focused on the things God did to make it possible for them to have a relationship with him. The choosing of them, the miracles, and the promises he made to always be their God and for them to be his people. We would do well to remember also. Not just to recite them as dictated of our faith but to ask God to make us feel the embrace of the Father as our sins are forgiven, as our hearts are set on fire and as our minds are opened to the plans God has for us.
Therefore, Moses continues, we must know and fix our hearts on him. We need to throw open the doors to our hearts and rather than pray to an unseen God somewhere in the heavens pray to Abba who is inviting us to sit in his lap while he tells us about who we are and who we are destined to become.
All that begins as it did for Moses by recognizing God is asking us to approach him and speak to him as one does to someone they trust. It began with Moses having a desire to “go see what that burning bush was all about” (Ex. 3:3). It was a willful act on Moses’s part, just as it must be on ours. God is constantly sending us signs, opportunities to respond to his call to us and his desire to have us grasp the depth of his love. Once we make that move toward God, respond to the desire to “know” the heart of God, we will begin a journey filled with the presence of God. We will encounter Jesus and grow in our understanding of forgiveness of our sins and grasp what Paul tells us how nothing can separate us from the love of God. Nothing but our own reluctance to embrace the gift of forgiveness.
Then we will encounter the Spirit who will guide us and transform us to holy men and women of God. It is the Spirit who is our teacher, our wisdom, our motivation to embrace a life walking in the presence of God and knowing we are not just forgiven, not just loved, but we are heirs of the kingdom of God where he lives and reigns and is with us always.
The trinity is not a mystery we need to explain by using shamrocks or other descriptions. No, it is very understandable if we just begin that journey of desire. Desire to know, to become intimate with God by inviting him into our hearts instead of keeping him in our heads. A desire to become intimate with God now versus a desire to keep ourselves from sinning so we do not lose meeting God in heaven.