June 12, 2022
What do we say about God today? A Holy Trinity! But what does that mean? I have never understood or appreciated the philosophical or theological writings of the Middle Ages, of the scholastics, and personally, I don’t have to understand the great mystery of who God is.
What is important is my personal relationship with God. God is much more than a doctrine, or an abstract principle or a power or a judge. (And for God’s sake, stop threatening children that God will punish them if they don’t obey you.)
Cultures and parents have passed down a lot of negative information about God over the centuries that have instilled fear and many negative and unwholesome ideas that have knotted up our hearts in personal turmoils and fear – like waiting fearfully for God to drop his heavy foot to crush us.
In Jesus’ last appearance as St. Matthew’s gospel ends, Jesus says to his disciples “to go and make disciples, to baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” (Matt 28:19)
While theologians and philosophers have wondered for two thousand years how the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit are related to each other and have formulated very complicated philosophical language to explain, more of it has ever spoken to my heart or my own spiritual life.
Whatever any theologian or philosopher could write tells us very little of the great mystery of God. For once, I do not need to know “it all,” because that is not possible. All we need to know is that God the Father is very personally involved in the lives of each one of us, like he was in the life of Jesus. Jesus, whom we call his Son, came to show us how God thinks and what he looks like, and there is a Holy Spirit who continues to live with us as God continues to extend his presence in the world, in our time, and in our lives. That is my theology of the Holy Trinity.
I am not interested in the “how.” I am interested in the here and now. How do we encounter God’s personal presence in our lives? That is our question and our life project. The Presence does not come from a book or a doctrine or a catechism class. What we need to do is to stop, to rest from our activities, to sit, and then, we can begin to feel the quiet presence of our Father who has given us life, and his life in our life. – in a second, in an experience of peace there is a spiritual fullness.
And Jesus, the Word of God, always with God from the beginning, as St. John describes Jesus in his gospel, is the one whose words and promises that we can hear and take into our hearts and lives.
Jesus did more than teach us about His Father, Jesus has connected us to his Father in the moment of our Baptism, the love of Jesus and His Father growing in our lives and personalities. For Jesus, it has always been about closeness, about encounter, our personal relationship with him, and through him to our Father.
The closeness continues, Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit to continue what Jesus began, to keep revealing the true path of life, to keep us going in the right direction and to fill our lives with the Spirit of Jesus.
So probably, our real God is more than a trinity. Someday, maybe today, we need to sit down and be aware of all the ways that we experience God in our lives. It is multi-dimensional, and impossible to fully describe, and changing as our life changes.
So, I want to encourage you not to get stuck in spiritual mud, not to limit God to words or to doctrines to stop using God’s name in vain or damning other people in God’s name.
Listen to these three sentences from our Holy Scriptures:
Book of Proverbs: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding (Proverbs 9:16)
Proverbs 10:20: “The fear of the Lord prolongs days but the years of the wicked shall be shortened.”
Here is where the English word, “fear”, trips us up – because it does not refer to fearing God because God will do something bad to us, but rather “respecting” God for who God “is.”
God is not a powerful thing, but a loving presence who respects us, who sustains us, who loves us, who cares for our best interests, who is selfless, who holds everything together and who keeps our destiny safe for each one of us.
And so, we say to God and to one another, happy Trinity Sunday!
One thought on “Holy Trinity Sunday: “I want to encourage you not to get stuck in spiritual mud””
So well said, Father.