Feast of God's love

"The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity" -- the very title sounds so heady that we might wonder if our feet are supposed to touch the ground this weekend. But today's opening prayer in the liturgy simplifies the point of the celebration. That prayer addresses and praises God as the Father who so wanted to be known that Jesus became human. It recognizes God who so desires that we share divine life that the Spirit continues to lure us into union with one another and with God. This process is called "sanctification."

CEL_May222016.jpgIn most basic terms, this is the feast of God's love, God's whole, eternal and varied outreach to all of humanity.

Solemnity of the
Most Holy Trinity
Proverbs 8:22-31
Psalm 8
Romans 5:1-5
John 16:12-15

As Christians, we are unique among the major religions in calling on God specifically as Father, Son and Spirit. In understanding God as One, as self-revealing and involved in history, we share key elements of faith with our brothers and sisters of the Jewish and Muslim faiths. In our attempts to talk about God, to name and experience the divine, we partake of the basic human desire to seek relationship not only with one another but also with the one who is beyond us as our origin and destiny.

When we as Christians speak of the three persons in God, we profess that God's very being is communal in ways we can never fully comprehend. But the mystery of the Trinity also speaks of God's outreach to humanity from Creation to the Incarnation and the Spirit's ongoing presence among us. This is the feast of God's self-revelation, celebrating God's desire to be known by us and to share divine life with us.

We shouldn't forget that a little humility is called for as we contemplate God's self-revelation. We call God Father, Son and Spirit. We also call God Rock, Redeemer, Shield, Mother Hen, Fortress, Shepherd, Mother, Brother and Friend. While those titles have rich implications, their very variety indicates that they express truths about God but can't define God.

Muslim prayer beads are an aid used to contemplate 99 of God's most beautiful names. The Jewish people do not pronounce the divine name out of awe-filled reverence, realizing that humans are ultimately incapable of adequately speaking of God. We Christians must remember that our gendered and relational images for God are always insufficient; therefore we should seek the truth instead of thinking we have found it.

Today's readings offer us a marvelous variety of images of God's outreach and involvement with history.

Proverbs speaks of God's utter delight in creation, including the playfulness of the whole process. Creation unfolds under the influence of love. God is both the mighty architect of sea and sky and the artisan concerned with such finishing touches as individual eyelashes and fresh-smelling dewdrops.

Paul's reflection in Romans moves from the image of the awesome, all-powerful, delighted Creator to God's crowning self-revelation in Jesus.

In this short passage, Paul describes Jesus as the source of peace between God and humanity. For Paul, Jesus reveals God's basic attitude of love toward humanity and invites us to fully enjoy the grace that springs from God's love -- a grace that has the power to minimize any affliction we might face.

Paul says that we are justified by faith. That means that God is always poised to make peace with us; all we need to do, as Jesus explained in the parable of the prodigal son, is to accept God's loving embrace.

Today's Gospel makes a point that we as church have rarely taken with sufficient seriousness. As Jesus shares the Last Supper table with his disciples, he says, "I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. But when the Spirit of Truth comes, he will guide you."

That proclamation offers us two very comforting and compelling ideas.

First of all, Jesus is telling us that it's OK that our concepts are inadequate, that we don't know the answers and that we can't understand all God is doing or asking of us. That's the human condition -- we are limited.

At the same time, Jesus is saying that our limitations are surmountable and that the Holy Spirit will guide us to the extent that we allow ourselves to be led. Revelation is an ongoing process.

The feast of the Trinity invites us not to heady speculation but to loving appreciation. It is a time to give thanks to the God who loves us, to meditate on the ways we have encountered that love and all the names for God that love has inspired.

Young or old, brilliant or simple, all of us are capable of celebrating this day as the feast of the great love of God.

[Mary M. McGlone is a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet and a historical theologian currently writing the history of the Sisters of St. Joseph in the United States.]

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