Exodus 34:4-6, 8-9
Daniel 3:52, 53, 54, 55, 56
2 Corinthians 13:11-13
In the Opening Prayer today we hear a revealing sentence. “Through them we come to know the mystery of your life.” We celebrate the Eucharist around the mystery of God’s life as a Trinity. There is “One God,” not three. There are three “persons” not three separate functions. Now is that all very clear?
A person came into my office the other day and told me he had finally figured out the Trinity. I smiled, but he was serious. After his explanation, which satisfied him, the Trinity remained an even greater mystery to me. The Scriptures themselves do not explain it all, but there are enough references to this mysterious God’s being One, but Three in some way to make it a traditional belief.
We hear Moses and God having a great encounter in today’s First Reading from Exodus. God has invited Moses back up the mountain of Sinai to have the sacred tablets redone. Moses had broken them in disappointment and anger when he discovered his people’s false worship. God speaks to Moses the name by which the mystery of God will be known, “Lord.” Then we will hear God trumpet attributes by which God will also be known.
Moses makes a profound gesture of acceptance and prays that this “Lord” Who is slow to anger and abounding in mercy, will accompany the sinful people and make them God’s very own. The reading ends there, but the story of God’s answer to this request plays out in the life of the Jews and into and through the life of Jesus.
The first line of today’s Gospel is a summary of God’s response to Moses’ prayer. “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son….” We do not hear any mention of the Holy Spirit in either of the readings, though the final greeting within the Second Reading formulates some kind of expression about the “fellowship of the Holy Spirit.” Nowhere in all of Scripture do we get an exact picture or definition of a “Three-Person God.” What we do receive to understand God’s life are the many pictures of just what love is. We know from our human experiences that love is outgoing, revelatory, desirous of union, and creative of something new and beyond both the lover and the beloved. Is there something of the Trinity in the scriptures of human love?
I was recently invited to give a talk at a local country club set at the edge of a golf course. I began asking people if they played golf themselves. Something very strange began happening. Each of the first seven people I asked said “yes,” but all added “but not very well.” It sounded so familiar, because in my sessions with people desirous of spiritual advancement, they would always say the same thing, “Yes, I pray, but not very well.” I wonder if the truth is that those things which are most intimate or important to us move us to always want to do them better, but this better could never be attained. Take loving for example. Could you love the person you love, “more well?” Love moves to union, but in strictly human love, both persons remain separate no matter how intensely the love has been shared. There might be the temporary experience of oneness, but as Anne Sexton writes in one of her poems, “God, in His perversity reaches in and unties the knot.” We could always try for greater union, but that will always end in a deeper realization of separateness.
Taking this wonderful human and sacred experience of marital love, could we know a little bit about infinite love relating with Itself?
At this point, I am over my head and in deep water, but what is a guy to do with such a mystery? Here goes. When two human beings love each other, they would love so much that the two would become a different, third. I am not merely suggesting an offspring or children, but less of their own separateness and more of a “third” which would be a union of the two. This is hard stuff, but mysteries are that by nature.
The Trinity is a mystery and so is human love, but human love can lead us to some kind of insight without a full understanding. We do not love “well,” but God does perfectly. So back to imagining. God loves and while remaining simple and One, “begets” as the Creed says, a Love which makes God a Relationship. The Third of this infinite relationship makes a fourth unnecessary. A Trinity of Love is more than sufficient for our belief without understanding it perfectly.
Do you love well? When you do, you are coming closer to your
coming to my office with your new understanding. So we love well
and find that all hard to believe at times. Moses experienced God’s
love for the sinful people and found that hard to understand so he bowed
down in worship of a mysterious God as we do today.
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