Deuteronomy 4: 32-34, 39-40; Ps 33; Romans 8: 14-17; Matthew 28: 16-20

by Jude Siciliano, OP

Dear Preachers:


Each week we post General Intercessions for the Sunday liturgies by Msgr. Joseph Masiello, retired pastor of Holy Trinity Parish, Westfield, NJ. These intercessions are based on the assigned scriptures, the liturgical season and current events.

Go to: https://preacherexchange.com/index.htm and click on "General Intercessions."

The feast of the Trinity might stir up some caution. If asked by an inquirer, "What do you Christians believe?" Our first response probably would not be, "We believe in the Trinity." That could be a conversation stopper, it seems abstract and detached and, to be honest, how would you explain the Trinity? It sounds so detached from real life, something for theologians to ponder, but not us everyday folk. And the theologians have been at it for many centuries!

Our roots are in the Jewish faith and Jews would never speak of a triune-person God. Their’s is a strong, monotheistic faith. Even in the New Testament the doctrine of the Trinity is not spelled out. Yet, when we were baptized it was the Trinitarian formula that was used as the water was poured over us. "I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." Here at the priory, each morning and evening we pray the Psalms and each ends with the Trinitarian doxology, "Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit." At the end of our Eucharistic celebration the priest presider sends us forth to preach the gospel, blessing us, "In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." Just as Jesus instructs his disciples to do in today’s gospel, "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." Our hymns and prayers presume the divine nature and unity of Father, and Holy Spirit. In other words, when we say we believe in God, we are really saying we believe in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit – the Trinity. And without this there is no Christian faith.

When I was young the notion I had was that the Son would try to intercede on our behalf with the Father, to get God to change God’s mind and intentions towards us. Or, to put it another way, to save us from God’s wrath.... God the Son at odds with God the Father. We cannot attribute to one person in the Godhead what we wouldn’t to the other two. The Son is our Savior – but so are the Father and the Holy Spirit. Thus, when we look at the Son we are also seeing the Father’s thoughts and feelings towards us. The Father is not the angry judge ready to smack us delinquent creatures down, were it not for the Son interceding on our behalf.

The same is true for the Spirit, who is not an independent agent working at odds with the Father and Son. If God is a Trinity, then Jesus has revealed the truth about God and our relationship to God and one another, which cannot be surpassed by any other teacher, as renowned and good as they may be. Certainly God works through many people of many faiths and lifestyles, but what draws us to them and enables us to discern God at work in them is that, for us, they reflect what we know of God through Jesus’ words and actions. God speaks to us in Jesus and God draws us to God and in service to others through the Holy Spirit.

When we turn in our searching to God, what do we discern? That our God is a tender parent who wants to show a parent’s loving face to us, all the time. We find a compassionate brother in Jesus, who came to serve us and offer us forgiveness, before we even asked for it. We find a liberating Spirit, who invites us into the very life that the Son shares with the Father.

Jesus sent his disciples to "make disciples of all nations." All nations. They were to preach to others what they learned about God in Jesus. Through their life with Jesus and by living his way, his attitudes and his actions, and by taking up his cross and experiencing his resurrection through Word and Sacrament, we come to know God as an intimate who is with us always, until the end

Too know the Spirit is to know the divine life which is present in us, to experience the free gift of grace and love and to be able to respond to it by living in the image and likeness of Jesus. The Spirit lifts us above fear and beyond slavish adherence to laws. Paul tells us today that the Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God." Receiving Paul’s words in faith we believe that we are already beloved children of God, freed from sin, freed to love as God loves.

While we have been accustomed to calling on the triune God as Father, Son and Spirit, in the history of the church theologians and poets have used other metaphors for the Trinity. For example: God as fire, light and heat. God as composer, singer and song. And one we are more familiar with from our Scriptures, God as speaker, word and breath ("ruah). These metaphors may give us some insight into the nature of our God, but still, God’s mystery is beyond all words and images. We put names on God as a valiant effort to describe our experience of our infinite divine Being. In retreats with women participants it is not unusual to call on God as Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier.

From your experience in prayer what images would you use for God? Remember, the bottom line is, as hard as we try, we humans can never capture who God is – yet we can try. Who knows what God will reveal to us in our efforts!

Note: while Jesus used the masculine noun "Father" to refer to God, we know God has no physical body. God is not a man. Julian of Norwich, the mystic, referred to our Almighty God as Father and that we have our being in our Mother of mercy.... "Our substance is in our Father God Almighty, and our substance is in our Mother, God all wisdom...." Julian said.

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