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Archive for June, 2006

THOUGHTS FOR TRINITY SUNDAY

Posted by frmac on June 10, 2006

Thoughts for Trinity Sunday from a homily by Fr. Jude Siciliano O.P.

We believe that there will be a time when, united with God in heaven, we shall “see” God as God is. Until then we must remember that God is hidden, totally incomprehensible to us. Even though God has been self-revelatory in our religious traditions, still the mystery of who God is has not been removed. Knowledge has not dissolved the mystery. God is still beyond our ability to comprehend.

The Hebrew scriptures tell us much about God’s holiness, transcendence and actions in human history. There are many images of God in the former testament, but these same scriptures also insist that God is hidden and cannot be compared to any other god or human being. Nor does the revelation we Christians have in Jesus “solve” the mystery. Jesus reveals the mystery of the intense love God has for us, but even with the revelation Jesus brings, we remember that God is still incomprehensible to us.

We are not gathered today for a doctrine of faith, instead, we are celebrating the God who saved us and continues to save us. The early church took centuries to articulate christological and trinitarian doctrines against sundry heretical teachers and groups. But even as the doctrines were articulated, the teachings reaffirmed God’s ultimate unknowability. St. Augustine, for example, said that God cannot be named in human language. But Augustine also insisted that we can come to know God, not through concepts, but through love. Where can we find knowledge of the Trinity? In the human heart. It is love that reveals God to us, far beyond any philosophical or theological formulations.

When Moses spoke to the people after their 40-year desert trek, he spoke to them about the nature of God. Specifically, he told them that once they entered the Promise Land they mustn’t forget who God was. And who was this God? Their God was the God who chose and loved them, brought them out of slavery and accompanied them through their desert years. When a new period of testing would come upon the people, and it surely would, no philosophical doctrine would sustain them and give them courage. Instead, when the time came for them to turn in lament to God, the remembrance of who God was for them and what God had done on their behalf, would give them courage and hope.

For our insights about who God is for us we not only draw upon today’s readings, but from all the scriptures we hear proclaimed through the liturgical year. They tell us that, contrary to popular notions, our God: does not give victory to the strong and powerful, but instead, raises up the vulnerable and weak; does not prove a person’s or nation’s worth by “blessing” them with riches and might, but blesses the lowly and poor of spirit; does not provide facile solutions to complicated problems, but is present with wisdom to help us as we face new challenges and questions; is not predictable, but constantly surprises us; does not enslave in fear and trembling, but calls us to freedom and responsibility.
The scriptures have taught us that we find our God in the love of the one Paul today calls “Abba”–the tender and nurturing Parent; in brother Jesus, who always extended mercy to those who reached out to him; in the Spirit, who breathes new life into us— the life Jesus shares with us from God.

The first and third readings are similar. Moses first reminds the people of the gifts God gave them: God created, called, led and protected them. Moses asks that the people respond by being faithful to God and observing God’s commandments. After all God had done for them, how could they refuse? Throughout all of Matthew’s gospel Jesus did what Moses did. He taught and revealed the gracious God to his disciples. Now they are to reveal the God they have come to know through Jesus to the world and invite them to “…observe all that I have commanded you.” In the beginning of the gospel Matthew recalls the prophetic statement about the name of the newborn savior. He was to be called Emmanuel, “God is with us” (Mt. 1:22-23). Now the disciples are being sent out with the reminder that Jesus will be Emmanuel for them, “And behold, I am with you always until the end of the age.”

Today is a good time to check our false gods at the door, to leave behind: the abstract and distant god who’s uninvolved in our daily plight; the restraining and rigid god who merely wants obedience to laws and regulations; the angry god who’s in a constant state of annoyance and worse (!), because of our sins; the god who tests our faith to see how strong it is; the god who sides with the powerful of the world and blesses their armies, etc.
Instead we profess again our faith in our triune God, the One whom Jesus calls Father (Abba). We acknowledge God as our Creator and appreciate God’s power and wisdom in our lives. We reverence our Creator-God by our good and careful stewardship over creation, the work of God’s hands. We confess that we are creatures with limits and faults and that only in God do we find life.

We confess our faith in the Son who has revealed the face of God to us. We listen to Jesus’ teachings, receive grace through his death and resurrection. In Christ we know God as one who shared our life and who is always with us. Jesus is the full revelation of God’s love and compassion for us and in Christ we are called to reflect the compassionate God to others by our lives.

We confess our faith in the Spirit who at this very celebration shares the divine life with us. The Spirit brings us into an intimate relationship with God our Creator and the Son. Through this Spirit we no longer worship God in fear and in strict observance of laws, but in the freedom of God’s children.

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