Sunday, May 26, 2013

'We're not God's goldfish' (Holy Trinity homily)

Today is the Feast of the Most Holy Trinity. 

When we talk about our belief that God is a Trinity--
God is Three while still being One--
We always wrestle with trying to explain this, to ourselves and others.

But let me pose a different question: Why do we believe this?

And the answer is: because Jesus Christ told us this.
In so many places in the Gospels, our Lord Jesus--
without using the word “Trinity,” nevertheless tells us: 
God is Father, God is Son, God is Holy Spirit, 
All are One, but not all the Same.

I believe it because I believe him.

In any case, why shouldn’t God’s nature baffle us?
That’s not the striking thing;
Instead, what’s remarkable is how much of God’s mystery we can penetrate.

Look around at our world. Why, of all the animals, 
is man uniquely so curious?

By all accounts, apes and dolphins are very bright animals.
They seem to like us--I don’t know why!--but they do.
Yet they don’t seem overly curious about us.

Could it be that our unique capacity and longing for truth, is a sign of God’s creation: 
that God intends for us to seek to penetrate his mystery?
God created us to seek a relationship with him?

Now, we say that sort of thing: having a “relationship” with God.
Yet if we really think about it, does that even make sense?

I fixed breakfast this morning on my stove--
but I don’t have a “relationship” with my stove. Aren’t you glad? 
Otherwise some of you would be calling the Archbishop after Mass: 
“Father needs some help!”

I don’t have a pet--I like pets, but I’m too busy, I’d neglect it.
Those who have pets, how do you describe that?
There’s a sort of relationship, and it’s real, but it’s still pretty limited. 

But let’s go with that. Is that our relationship to God?
We’re his pets? 
But look at the Scriptures: God has bigger ambitions for us.
He calls us “friends”! The Son calls Mary, his creature, “Mother”!
He calls himself the Bridegroom--and we, his Church, his Bride.

And there it is. Bride and groom. A breathtaking image. 
We wouldn’t dare to suggest it--it would be blasphemous--
but God himself proposes it.
Only something akin to equals in that relationship.
So how in the world do we get anywhere near such a relationship with God?

It’s only possible because God himself--who is in himself a relationship--
stoops down, and lifts us up, into the life and love of the Trinity.

So our second question: what difference does saying God is a Trinity make? 
This is it.
God isn’t a solitary other, infinitely distant from us.
Unapproachable. Unknowable. Always and forever far away.

Jesus told us: in baptism we receive the Holy Spirit--God!--in us!
Couples, you know what it is to strain your relationship.
How do heal it? Talk. Listen. Bend. Forgive.
What do we do with God: we go to him in confession.
We talk. He listens. We bend our stubborn will. He forgives.

In the Eucharist, he gives us his true Presence, his own Body and Blood.
For us sinners! He came to us!
God the Son gives God’s own life to us!

So what difference does it make?
We’re not God’s goldfish, sitting on a shelf.
We’re his intended. He wants a marriage with us for eternity.

And there it is--all the stuff we Catholics keep saying, that people don’t like.
And that many Catholics wonder why we believe.

Why does being a Catholic involve so many “no”s? 
Why do penance? Why deny ourselves?
Why wait for marriage?
Why must marital love be open to life, all the time?
Why can’t marriage be two men or two women?

Because we’re not God’s goldfish. 
If I had a goldfish, I wouldn’t care about it’s choices.
But if you or I are engaged to be married--
does our future spouse--God--have reason to care? 

We’re an image of God already--we’re already something awesome.
We could be his Golden Retriever, doing neat tricks.
No. He’s preparing us, remaking us, to be lifted up to the realm of heaven.
To be filled with God’s love. Infinite. Pure. 
Bursting with life. Never guarded, restrained, sterile.
More intense than all the stars of all the galaxies.

God chose us as his one and only. Forever.

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