Bernadette Soubirous was fourteen when the Blessed Mother appeared to her eighteen times in 1858 in what was then a garbage dump. She had yet to receive her first Communion, already had asthma because of the house where she lived and could hardly read and write. She was greatly moved by these encounters with Mary and especially how she made the sign of the cross and for the rest of her short life she imitated Mary in this devotion to the Blessed Trinity. How often do we make the sign of the cross without thinking a fig about what we are doing or saying?
This Sunday we celebrate the central mystery of our faith. People may say today, oh, it’s a mystery, so forget about it since it is way over my head. This would be a mistake since a mystery can, to some degree, be grasped when it is pondered, reflected upon, and contemplated. It is accessible to us depending on the grace God gives us to make an effort and think about it.
We heard the gospel of the sending of the Twelve on the Ascension two weeks ago. Jesus commanded them and us, to go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. He did not say go and baptize them in the name of the savior, the creator and redeemer, as important as those roles and names are for what Christ did for us. Maybe I told you before but there was a priest in Boston who baptized babies in this way: I baptize you in the name of the savior, the creator and the redeemer. Well, what do you think? All of those baptisms were invalid and had to be done over and in the name of the Trinity. It is beautiful on this feast to think about who God is, rather than what he does. We have this opportunity today.
A great scripture scholar and writer mentioned that when people spoke to him only for what he can do or did, or will do, he felt a bit used. This is true because inside of us we all have a desire to relate to others in a more personal way, not just functionally. Father, can you say this Mass, and bless this rosary and visit this sick person and…ok, no problem, but we all need more relational friendships in our lives.
The same happens with God. We can always be asking or thanking him for things but should we not deal with him on a personal level? Do we know much about each Person in the Trinity? Thanksgiving is a good form of prayer but it is not the highest one. Praising God for who he is, and for his love for me and my family during this pandemic is a much more mature prayer!! This is especially true when we can praise God when someone dies or when things don’t go our way! That is a sign of mature faith.
Only in a Christian community can we enter the life of the Trinity. A Christian community is not just a club or a group but is a group of people where one can be him/herself, where one can fight with someone and have the grace to reconcile and not just walk away. It is a place where one can hear God’s voice and grow in his or her faith and self-knowledge. Through this Christian community we can come to know how God acts in our life and how the Trinity is present deep within us.
All religions stress the unity of God; he is One and is absolute. But for a Christian, God is a family. He is not like a family; he really is a family, where the two become one and their love is so perfect it generates a third for all of eternity. In a human family, the love of the two became one and gives birth to a third, a fourth, a fifth. We are made in the image of this relational God, who is never alone. This is a good news for us today and so it is worthwhile to think about this mystery a bit more this week and learn to praise God for who he is and not just for what he does!