Michael H. Bielecki, O.S.A.
Province of St. Thomas of Villanova
Prv 8: 22-31
Ps 8: 4-5, 6-7, 8-9
Rom 5: 1-5
Jn 16: 12-15
As I get older, I find a growing desire to “see” God. I am not talking about “believing” in God. I do believe that an Infinite God exists and that He has come to earth in the person of Jesus. Jesus has revealed a lot about God and I believe what He revealed. But I desire a deeper relational experience of God in here and now. Perhaps you do too.
Let me put it this way. When we “love” another human being, it is not enough to know that they exist or even love us in return. We long for a relational experience of that love. Those who have experienced genuine love know what that means. In the presence of the one loved, the relationship grows and there is a sense of closeness and a presence that lightens pains and sorrows and even fears seem to be lighter as trust grows.
Peter, James and John seem to have come close to that experience on the mountain where the transfiguration occurred. Before their eyes, the human Jesus seemed to disappear into the brilliance of his Divinity. (Matthew 17, 1-9) They realized that Jesus was more than just another human being, He was also divine. We can understand why Peter did not want to leave that intense presence, but wanted to deepen it. But Peter, and the others, had to come down from the mountain because God had something more for them to do; they were sent on a mission. Throughout history others seem to have had similar experiences of God, but only for a moment. For example, St. Augustine had a momentary experience of the presence of God, with his mother Monica, just after his conversion, but it was quickly over. Monica died and Augustine was left to deal with the aches and pains, the doubt and despair that plagued him through the next forty years of life.
St. Therese (the “Little Flower”) had the experience of a deep relationship with God for most of her life, but in the end she lost the “feeling” of God’s loving presence. That moved her relationship to a deeper level.
God does not expect us to try to have the experience of His indwelling presence all the time, because He knew that this fullness could only be given to us after a lifetime of trying to love as best we could and deepen our relationships with others. The full experience of God is not for us in this life. It is our reward after a lifetime of trying to love God and others. That is the reason why Jesus commanded Peter on their way back down the mountain of Transfiguration: “Don’t tell anyone about what you saw.” He was afraid that too many would expect that fullness of relationship in this life and become discouraged when it was not experienced.
The Feast of the Holy Trinity we celebrate today is total mystery and is not clearly explained in the Bible. Our belief has been coined by the early Church based on data from the Sacred Scriptures. Jesus prayed to the Father and promised to send the Holy Spirit; thus revealing the Trinitarian mystery.
The Trinity is not a problem to be solved; it is truly a mystery to be lived by everyone every day. Our desire to be in relationship with others is ultimately our desire for the Trinitarian life.
The Church invites us today to reflect on the incredible mystery that is one God in three persons. As we gather on this feast, we should ask ourselves: What do I believe about God? What kind of God do I believe in? How authentic are my relationships?
Psychologists say that our concept of God is, in large part, the concept our parents imparted to us by their behavior. If they were severe and judgmental, the God we believe in may be one who we fear. If our parents were loving and accepting, our God is likely to be kind and merciful. Those of us who are older were probably brought up in a church that portrayed God as demanding perfection and more to be feared than loved. Fear is dispelled by acknowledging and facing our fears. If we are afraid of our mysterious God, we need to face that fear and seek to know God better and deepen our relationship with Him. We also need to seek to be a loving presence to those around us; incarnating our God who is a God of relationship.
On this Feast of the Holy Trinity, let us ask God to give us the grace to live more like the Holy Trinity in peace and harmony. Perhaps then, those seeking to know God will begin to believe in God because they see us as loving images of a God of relationship in whose image we were made.