THE HOLY TRINITY - IT'S NOT ABOUT HOW - IT'S WHO
A couple of years ago there was extensive stories done and interest in a convenience story attempted robbery. A masked man walked into the Long Island store, pulled a bat on the owner and demanded that he empty the cash register as he attempted to rob the store. The store owner, in turn, pulled out a rifle, at which point rather than attempting to run and flee, the would be robber collapsed to his knees, started crying and begged forgiveness.
The owner said that as the robber was crying like a baby, he explained that he was out of work, and that the reason he was doing this was that he needed food for his family; he was sorry and begged the man not to call the police. So, the owner put his rifle down, gave him $40 and some groceries, as the man promised never to do this again. The robber, so stunned by this act of compassion, asked the owner why he was being so kind, and the owner spoke briefly of his devout faith in God that called him to do so. The robber so touched by this prayed with the store owner shook hands, and the man disappeared.
You have to wonder if the fact that this happened in New York made it even more seemingly unbelievable to the point that it made international headlines. All too often we’ve heard of similar circumstances that occur with varied results – a gunman comes in to rob a place, the store owner is justifiably scared and outraged at the same time. He can get robbed, call the police, hope that his insurance will cover his losses... He can fight back and take a chance at risking his life... To hear this story – that the owner would risk his life in confronting the robber and then instantly forgive the man and restore his dignity (while never losing his own) - well, we know that’s the stuff of great works of literature like Les Miserables, but in real life? We almost can’t believe that someone actually would do that.
The store owner, responding to all the attention ,very humbly said 'I'm a very little man. I just did a good job, I have a good feeling in my heart.” It’s amazing - here’s a situation that could go so wrong in so many ways, and yet, somehow, the store owner is able to reflect God’s love and compassion - changing both men’s lives, and, no doubt, countless many others who heard it.
A question that comes to mind is How do we reflect our relationship with God? One way we do that is by knowing Who our God is.
Today we celebrate the “Holy Trinity” - That one God is three persons - Father, Son and Holy Spirit. There’ s a natural tendency for us to get hung up on the “How.” And quite simply, that puts us on the “dead end” (at least in this life) of “it’s a mystery.” Something we simply can’t fully understand. But this feast is really meant not to focus on the How but rather “WHO.” We’re gifted that our All powerful, All loving, All knowing God reveals His secret to us – WHO He is.
That’s what we hear in these beautiful readings today. In that first reading, you can almost imagine Moses kind of just taking all of these amazing things that have happened to him and his fellow Jews and he saying - 'Do we realize what’s going on here? We have a God who is pursuing us, who is reaching out to us, who is engaging us. Our God speaks to us. He has his strong hand and outstretched arm leading us - we have to LISTEN to Him, we have to keep his commandments.'
St. Paul follows that up in the Second Reading by saying that the Father sending His Son Jesus to us was a game changer. God wishes to deepen the relationship so that we aren’t simply creatures of the creator - Jesus has made us Children of God, we are God’s sons and daughters. That’s why we hear this Gospel where Jesus at His Ascension says to his disciples - look, “All power on heaven and earth has been given to me” (anyone who rises from the dead pretty much has evidence to support this statement). And he offers that to us. He says that we too can enter into this eternal, loving family of God by being baptized into the Trinity. The Holy Spirit enters into our hearts, our lives, draws us to Jesus the Son, who draws us to God the Father.
God has revealed this to us not to give us a riddle to try to solve or to make us enter into some mental gymnastics as we simply try to contemplate how He is - but rather that we would allow Who he is to enter into our lives. For that store owner at the end of a long day, all he expected was to clean up and close up shop. In a flash, everything changed, and yet, he was still able to experience God’s presence in his life and in the life of this man before him.
Hopefully we won’t encounter such a dramatic experience to challenge us and our faith. But in our day to day life, there’s always that opportunity for us to see Gods presence in our lives and in the lives of all those around us. May we who profess that God is by his very nature this loving, eternal relationship - reflect that reality to others in our living and our sharing of our faith.
Posted by Fr. Jim Chern