of Creighton University's Online Ministries
June 19th, 2011
Larry Gillick, S.J.
Deglman Center for Ignation Spirituality
Click here for a photo of and information on this writer.
There are difficult things to understand in our human experiences. Why would somebody love us, forgive us, and care so much for us? We ponder the immensity of space and what we call “time”. Though we cannot figure them out, though we probe and ponder, we continue living with them.
Christianity is not a “Mystery Religion”. We are invited to believe in things we cannot understand totally, such as the Trinity. This is certainly a mystery, but we probe and ponder a “Three-in-Oneness” and live with this mystery while not grasping all that it is or means.
We approach the Eucharistic Table a bit challenged in mind and confounded, but still confident. God has come out of mystery into history in just the right amount. Faith while being stumped is our loving response to a God Who so loved and loves this world.
I was speaking with a friend who is of the Quaker Brotherhood. He was explaining how their gathering is a “spiritual” liturgy. They refer to a major part of their service as “Unprogrammed Worship”. What a beautiful expression for prayer and how God seems to work with us.
Moses, in today’s First Reading, has some “programmed” worship in mind as he drags the stone tablets up the mountain. Moses is pleading for his people and is worried God is going to reject them for their being so “stiff-necked”. Before Moses can say anything, God reduces Moses to some “unprogrammed worship” by declaring a wonderful revelation of just Who God is.
Moses finally speaks a heartful prayer. He requests that God accompany this people and make them God’s own. God does not show a physical presence, but proclaims certain definite attitudes or attributes of faithful mercy and kindness. These will have to be believed in and in the history of God’s people, they will be revealed as true. God never seems to remove the invitation to us that we can love God by believing and trusting that goodly kindness and steadfast love.
The Gospel is from the context of Jesus’ speaking with Nicodemus who had come by night to check Jesus out and see if he was missing something. The whole chapter and these verses too, are a baptismal homily for adults. Jesus affirms that in order to enter the “kingdom of God’ one must be baptized into this kingdom through water and the Holy Spirit. Then Jesus said that what is born of “flesh” is “flesh” and that which is born of the “spirit” is “spirit”. The whole chapter three is about the nature of believing beyond knowing.
The few verses we hear today are wonderful words of affirmation and blessing, but they are a call to believe how loved and uncondemned we are. Jesus is the Divine Invitation to know this world for what it is. What is it? The world is the place to which and to whom the God of mystery reveals the love that that God as Creator has for the creation. After Jesus begins speaking, we hear no further words from this grand Inquisitor. Nicodemus is moved to “unprogrammed worship” as he listens to this new view of the world and himself.
This is Trinity Sunday and it is a wonderful feast to experience our human intellectual inability to apprehend or comprehend a Three-in-One God. The infinite love of God expresses itself in ways so different from our ways. I am one person and there are other persons who are not me. I do create things, such as these Reflections. You know, sometimes I really like what I write, even love them and so I want to share them with you. The more I love what I write, the more I want you to love them too. Love is out-going, but one more thing - why do I have to write so many words? It is because I, also in some way mysterious to me, love you enough to make sure I am clear and understandable. So though I am one, there is a threeness about me. There is the I of me, the things, the Reflections I write, and there is that love which wants the Reflection to be sent, understood and loved for what it all is.
Enough of words now. Time there is for quiet, humble “unprogrammed worship”. Is the Trinity all clear now and perfectly understood even after my brilliant Reflection? I doubt it. We are both of the “flesh” which demands to know and we are of the “Spirit” Who moves us beyond the fleshly demands to quiet prayer and acceptance of Who God is and who that God says you are and I am. We are the “sent to” and we are those who are so loved.
“Blessed be God the Father and His only-begotten Son and the Holy Spirit: for He has shown that He loves us.”
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