Friday, May 24, 2013

Proverbs 8:22-31; Romans 5:1-5; John 16:12-15

We Catholics believe that we believe in one God, but in practice we behave differently. We speak of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit and some accuse us of being worshippers of Mary too. Are we in practice polytheistic like the Hindus ? We begin our prayers taking the name of three persons. In the Mass we pray to the Father in the Son through the Spirit. So what do we actually believe ? We believe in a mysterious God. God by nature is a mystery, otherwise he is not God. The God who can be comprehended by my mind and thought is not the real God. God is transcendent and immanent. Immanent God we may be able to grasp some, but not the transcendent God fully well.
One day St Augustine of Hippo was walking along the sea shore and reflecting on the doctrine of the Trinity. He suddenly saw a little child all alone on the shore. The child made a hole in the sand, ran to the sea with a little cup, filled her cup, came and poured it into the hole she had made in the sand. Back and forth she went to the sea, filled her cup and came and poured it into the hole. Augustine went up to her and said, "Little child, what are you doing?" and she replied, "I am trying to empty the sea into this hole."
"How do you think," Augustine asked her, "that you can empty this immense sea into this tiny hole and with this tiny cup?" To which she replied, " And you, how do you suppose that with this your small head you can comprehend the immensity of God?" With that the child disappeared.

Like Augustine we may not be able to understand the mystery of the Trinity. But we can describe the mystery, in the words of the Athanasian Creed: "the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, and yet there are not three Gods but one God." Jesus knew very well that the disciples and his listeners were not able to understand the meaning of his message. Jesus expressed it in today’s Gospel. "I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now." Jesus revealed himself to the people gradually and as understandable to them. First He taught them to recognize in Himself the Eternal Son of God. When His ministry was drawing to a close, He promised that the Father would send another Divine Person, the Holy Spirit, in His place. Finally after His resurrection, He revealed the doctrine in explicit terms, bidding them "go and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost" (Matthew 28:18).

We can get an inkling of trinity from our human experience of life in a family.
We are created in God's image, and so the love that links husband and wife and gives rise to new life - this is a pale reflection of the divine family of the Blessed Trinity. The love of a husband and wife may reflect the love of the Father and the Son. As Jesus says: All that is mine is yours and all that is yours is mine » (Jn 17, 8-10). Similarly everything that a husband possesses becomes equally of the wife’s too and vice versa. As the Holy Spirit proceeds from the love of the Father and the Son, as in a family a child is born from the love of a husband and wife.
Speaking of the family life Jesus said: For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.' So they are no longer two, but one.
In John Chapter 17:11 Jesus says: that they may be one as we are one » (Jn 17,11).

Another simile can be had from this lighted candle. This burning candle has three inseparable things in itself: the flame, the heat and the light. All the three are inseparably linked together but flame is not heat or heat is not light. The only visible thing in it is the flame, the heat and the light can be experienced as the Holy Spirit and the Father who are invisible.

One more example for the experience of the trinity in our life is our thought process. When I think of something, the thought is inseparably part of myself. Yet, I know my thought distinct from myself, though it is one with me. But when I express that thought in word or write it down, it becomes separate from me. It is like my thought as the Son who was with the Father before the incarnation and my word or written word is the Incarnated Word as St.John mentions… in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. When the time came the Word became flesh. And the implemented action of me resulting from my expressed thought can be compared to the Holy Spirit. ( in my thought in my word and in my action).

So, the trinity can be experienced in our self. As Jesus said: If anyone loves my commandment, the Father will love him and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him. St. Paul tells us that God's love is poured into our hearts through the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Our idea about who God is and what he is like always affects how we live. Sometimes we may wonder why God even bothered to reveal the truth about his inner, Trinitarian nature, since he knew it would be impossible for us to understand it completely. But God knew what he was doing. He knew that our idea about what he is like would profoundly affect our idea about how to follow him.

The more deeply we ponder and absorb this revelation of God, the more we will love him. And the more we love God, the happier we will be.
But in order to love him more, we must know him better.
An old proverb says, "You cannot love what you do not know." This is the reason that God has revealed himself to us. He wants us to know him. Because he wants us to love him.
Today, on this feast of the Blessed Trinity, we need to ask ourselves: how well do we know God?
Have we become satisfied with the bare minimum?
Are we striving to know him better?
Do we know him better today than we did one year ago, five years ago, twenty years ago?
Today, when we profess our faith in God, let's really mean it. And let's ask God to stir up our desire to know him better, because if we really want to do so, he will gladly show us how to do so.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Easter VI [C] Acts 15:1-2, 22-29;Rev. 21: 10-14, 22-23; John 14: 23-29

Today’s readings show us the effects of the abiding presence of God in His Church and of His indwelling in each one of us. The first reading, from the Acts of the Apostles, tells us how the Holy Spirit indwelling in the Church helped the apostles to solve a major doctrinal problem about the Gentiles becoming Christians, which shook the very foundation of the early Church. The gospel passage reminds us that the Holy Spirit, abiding within us, is our teacher and the source of all peace.  The passage offers a vision of hope.  Jesus promises his followers that the Holy Spirit will come and instruct them in everything they need to know.

The story is told that after Helen Keller’s teacher, Annie Sullivan, had given her the names of physical objects in sign language, Miss Sullivan attempted to explain God and tapped out the symbols for the name "God." Much to Miss Sullivan’s surprise, Helen spelled back, "Thank you for telling me God’s name, Teacher, for he has touched me many times before." How could Helen Keller have known about God? Although she was blind and deaf, Helen Keller knew God, for God had shown Himself to her. That is “revelation” of an indwelling God about whom today’s scripture speaks.  

In this passage, Jesus reveals one of the great secrets of Christian life. When we are baptized, God himself, the Blessed Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, actually come into our souls and take up residence there." We will come to him and make our dwelling with him," Jesus tells us.
Have we ever wondered why Jesus ascended back into heaven fifty days after his resurrection? Why didn't he stick around? Because he wanted to be closer to us; he wanted to be able to dwell deep within our hearts, beyond earthly limits. If Christ had not "gone to the Father," he would have remained limited by time and space, as he was during his earthly life. (It is good that I go, Jesus said).
But since he now dwells body and soul in heaven, he can be present to each one of us at all times, through the Holy Spirit. Since the three Persons of the Trinity share the same nature, where one is, all three are. 
But for the sake of our understanding, the Church has long attributed God's presence within our soul especially to the Holy Spirit, the most hidden of the three Persons of the Trinity, whom we are preparing to welcome in the coming Solemnity of Pentecost. 

We often live as if our Christianity were something outside of us, like a membership in a club, forgetting the God’s indwelling aspect of our faith life. That forgetfulness handcuffs God's power in our lives. The Holy Spirit is polite. He respects our freedom. He chooses to be a guest, not a dictator.
He sits in the living room of our souls, loving us, eagerly waiting for us to put away our cell phone, shut down our computer, and pay attention to him for few minutes, to listen to him, to ask him for guidance and strength. And whenever we do, he is able to increase what is good in us, and cleanse what is bad.

Jesus teaches us that the condition for this indwelling of the Holy Trinity is that we show our love of God by keeping his word.  And this keeping of his word will be facilitated by the Holy Spirit, God's Holy Breath. And he will be a comforter.
What kind of comfort can we expect from the Comforter?  Let’s look more closely at the word ‘comfort’. Modern usage has weakened its meaning to softness and gentle touches; in fact it has come to mean just about the opposite of its real meaning. The word comes from the Latin confortare, which means ‘to strengthen’; fortis means ‘strong’.  Comfort therefore means strength!  The Holy Spirit will make us robust, strong in faith. 
And what kind of peace can we expect?  “I give you my peace.  Not as the world gives peace do I give it to you.”  It is not the ego’s peace, which is like the peace after a good meal, or after some private victory.  He promises his kind of peace – which is “a peace the world cannot give” (Jn 14:27). The indwelling Holy Spirit will give us lasting peace and joy which can not be snatched away by any external force.
God inhabits our hearts so deeply and intimately that we become the visible dwelling place of God.  His living and life-affirming presence is always with us, yet '"hidden" in the very things we so often take for granted.  Thus, we are invited to look for and encounter "God-with-us," yet "hidden" -- hidden in the person sitting next to us, in the words we speak and the songs we sing at worship.
As we prepare ourselves for the great feast of the Comforter, the strength giver, the peace giver- in two weeks, let’s pray every day for the mighty outpouring  of the Holy Spirit in our hearts so that he may make us holy by his indwelling presence in us.