While many world religions like Taoism believe in more than one God, Islam believes in Allah, the one God. Judaism believes in Yahweh the one almighty God and Hindus believe in Brahman, the one supreme Absolute Reality. Christianity too believes in one God, but this one God is a Triune God; the Trinity; the three divine Persons of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.
Many Christians, including many of us here, seem to tell ourselves that the “Trinity” we believe in is an abstract God who is so full of mystery that we find it difficult, if not impossible to understand. We tell ourselves that “God” is too high up in the heavens for us to reach and too holy for us to relate to. And so, when I am in trouble and in pain, God does not seem to be presentto my needs and I am left on my own to sort out my problems in life.
If we have such views of God, then basically as a Catholic Christian, this is how we may end up living our faith.We would tell ourselves,“My main focus is to lead a good life, try to come to Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligations, and once in a while go to ‘Confession’. . . and if I do all of these during my life time, then when I have to die, (“I hope not before I am 85 or better still 90 or more’), then I would deserve to have a funeral Mass. And what would probably happen to me after I die would be that I would spend some time in purgatory (hopefully not too long) and then eventually get into heaven. For some of us, we may hastily add, and Yes, that’s why I come to Mass on Sunday and go to ‘Confession’ too! Otherwise, my purgatory would be longer . . . and from what I have understood from my catechism, purgatory is not a very pleasant place to be in as the purification I have to go through is painful!”
My brothers and sisters in Christ, if these comments ring a bell and in some ways describe the faith we are living, then we have grossly misunderstood who God really is for us. Such views and practice of our faith describe a believer who have failed to value and appreciate how much God loves us and have superficialised what our Catholic Christian faith is about.
Our secular world which affects the way we live our faith does not believe in the Trinity. Millions and billions of people do not appreciate how much God loves them. Thus, we can understand why the world we live in today is ridiculous in so many ways. For example, we spend billions of dollars on space ships to try to get to the moon and other planets in the hope of trying to find clues and information for our planet earth. If we only know how much God our Father and Creator loves us and provides for us, our focus on our world spending would be more on caring for one another especially for the poor and the needy and to strive for more care of the environment that God has created for our use.
We also spend billions of dollars on research to try to clone human beings, and then spend billions and trillions of dollars amassing arms of all kinds so that we feel more secure, while hundreds of millions of people are suffering and dying from hunger, diseases and lack of clean water and basic housing.
If our secular world is only more aware of how much God our Father and Creator loves us and how He wants us to love and care for one another more fully, then these billions and trillions of dollars could be better channelled towards the basic necessities of human beings and in promoting more peace in the world where wealth is more justly distributed by the rich and powerful to the poor and needy who are also God’s precious children.
We also spend billions and trillions of dollars in technologies that are supposed to make us more efficient in our work and thus give us more leisure in our lives. However, when we look at our lives today, we are even more stressed and filled with greater anxieties than our parents and grandparents who did not have any of the IT equipment that we have today.
If we are more fully aware of how God’s love for us is so unconditional, selfless and total that Christ the Son of God willingly suffered and died for us, so that we can gain eternal life, then we will surely become more caring persons and our lives would be more focused on building relationships instead of constantly competing to outdo one another in individualistic and self-centered ways.
Have we heard of so-and-so flaunting their wealth in million dollar wedding celebration for their children while thousands and millions around them live with less them one dollar a day? We may say that these are extreme examples. However, these secular attitudes do affect our lives too. How many of our young adults today and parents wish that they too can flaunt on such wedding celebrations? How often have we heard of people who look down on others because they are cleverer, richer, more popular, more powerful and more connected and the like?
Our secular world basically promotes a world where God is absent, and at best unimportant and irrelevant. As Christians we are called and challenged today to become more conscious of God in our lives; God loves us so much and He wants us to share the love He gives us with others.
Thus, today’s feast of the Holy Trinity is a celebration of God’s infinite love for us and we are each challenged to return to the basics of our faith. God is far from abstract or too holy to relate to. In fact, if our hearts are more in tuned with God, we will discover that God loves us personally, totally and unconditionally. The Sacred Scriptures alone are filled with poems, stories, parables and especially the life of Jesus Himself confirm powerfully for us how these attributes of God is so true.
Far from being abstract and too holy to reach, God is in fact present to us in all our pains, trials and temptations of our lives. God through the Holy Spirit is constantly present in our heartsto give us the strength to sustain us daily and especially in the trials of life. The Spirit of God is there also to lead, guide and protect us from all harm and dangers. Only last night the car that I was in almost had an accident. However, I believe it was God who protected us. God has done this and protect me from harm and dangers hundreds and thousands of times in my life; and I am sure for you too.
Yet, some of you may still say to me, “But, how come I don’t seem to experience God in all these personal ways?” One of the main reason why we are not able to experience God our Father as a personal loving God is because we do not give Him quality time and attention. It is good that we ask ourselves, “How connected are we to Him in our daily living?” How much quality time do we set aside for private prayer each day? If we do not spend enough time with God and for God in our daily living, then how can we know Him personally? It is like someone complaining that he does not know his children and spouse well enough, but does not realise that he does not spend enough quality time with them.
Let us take another example: You and I have been coming to Mass for years. The Trinitarian God is fully present to us in the Eucharist. Yet, how many of us truly value and cherish the Eucharist, as God’s precious gift to us? How many of us are aware that the whole Eucharistic celebration is focused on the offering of ourselves as a community together with Jesus Our Lord, to God the Father? How many of us are aware that it is the Holy Spirit who transforms the Bread and Wine into the Body and Blood of Christ, when the priest places his hands over the bread and wine? How many of us are fully alert when Jesus speaks to us personally when the Gospel is proclaimed and when the homily is preached? How many of us are aware that at the end of the Mass, we are each given a mission to make God known in our daily living?
My sisters and brothers in Christ let me sum up and conclude by saying this about the Trinity. God is real and is indeed actively present in our daily living; He feels our pain; He empowers us to forgive and He will always be there for us. When God the Father created us in His image and likeness, He planted in our hearts an innate and natural desire to love Him and one another. Do we live this innate desire and basic Christian vocation daily?
When God the Son, in Jesus, revealed the Good News of Salvation and died for us, He showed us how we too should strive to live in God’s love and ways by loving and forgiving one another at all times. Do we live out such Christ-like values in our daily living?
When God the Holy Spirit is given to us at Confirmation, we were assured by God that we will be able to have the strength of the Spirit to live our faith to the full and if we are to be tested, we will never be tested beyond what we can bear, for Jesus says, “Come to me all you who labour and are overburdened and I will give you rest; rest for my soul; yes, my yoke is easy and my burden light.” Do we trust God enough to experience His peace and love daily ?
Fr Philip Heng,S.J.
visitors since 23 June 2011