Trinity Sunday B – Three Notes One Chord
Older Catholics grew up with the idea that God was the Almighty Creator of heaven and earth: all powerful, all seeing, all knowing; an exacting judge who watched us from his heaven above. God’s threefold title of ‘Father, Son and Holy Spirit’ was a bit of a mystery to most and was left to theologians to grapple with. Theologians today are writing about God in terms of human experience. They talk about being in the presence of what Donal Dorr calls a “benevolent mystery that’s beyond human comprehension,” and spell out various tangible aspects of it such as goodness, love, generosity, compassion, forgiveness, truth, beauty and creativity. These qualities make God approachable, feeding our prayer and fostering an appetite that’s for the truly human as well as for the elusively sacred.
The experience of falling in love or giving birth to a child can put even a secularised person in touch with the sacred. Jesus came to tell us that there is something very human about God. People who have experienced deep human love know the giftedness and mutuality that’s at the heart of the relationship. There’s a sense of wonder and sacredness in the experience of love. Many are attracted by the teaching that ‘God is Love’, and intuit or sense that love is at the heart of the world and everything in it. God so loved the world that he created it and sent his only Son – cf. John 3: 16. Some people have a deep human need to visit shrines like Lourdes, Fatima, Medjugorie, Knock, Croagh Patrick in western Ireland, or walk the Camino de Santiago, where they find themselves more open to the sacred.
Scripture courses abound today and Lectio Divina groups have proliferated. People have a fresh appetite for the word of God and to know Jesus in a personal way. “The whole aim of Jesus in the gospels was to evoke in people some degree of the experience he himself had of the benevolent mystery that he called Abba. We look to the gospels to tell us about the teaching of Jesus regarding the nature of the God he experienced” (1). We don’t read the gospels to learn how to behave morally. The ethical and moral teachings of the gospels are not new; the Jews knew them long before Jesus categorised and condensed them in the Sermon on the Mount. What is new and Christian in the gospels is Jesus and his experience of and insight into the mystery that he and we call God. That is what we listen for in the gospels (2) – cf. John 16: 13.
The late Fr. Michael Paul Gallagher wrote about the power of imagination to access reality and the sacred. Over his forty years of teaching and writing he found that people hungered to experience the sacred. “Human imagination”, he wrote in his last year, “is the space where faith is either starved or nourished”. If we allow our imaginations to prayerfully engage with the parables and actions of Jesus we find ourselves being touched by the Spirit of truth and opened to being led to something of Jesus’ insight into the Divine. It took a few centuries of listening and reflecting and sharing for the early Christian community to figure out that God was a loving community of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The late Fr. Gallagher reminded us that to be in touch with one’s deepest hungers is to be poised to listen to the love poem of God which is the Trinity (3).
Fr. QQ – 05/26/2021
1 – cf. D. Dorr, A CREED FOR TODAY, pp. 78-85