Sunday, May 22, 2016

God's Pet or God's Spouse (Holy Trinity homily)

Today is the Feast of the Most Holy Trinity.

When we talk about our believe 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 – such as today’s Gospel –
we hear Jesus referring to the Father, and to himself,
and to the Holy Spirit.
Even though he doesn’t use the term, “trinity,”
he makes clear that the Father is God, he himself is God,
and the Holy Spirit is God; yet not three gods, but one God.

So if someone asks you, why do you believe God is a trinity,
the answer is, because Jesus said so.
I believe it because I believe him.

Is it hard to explain exactly how it works? You bet.
But after all, we’re talking about God.
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?
In other words,
maybe 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?

I don’t have a pet--I like pets, but I’m too busy, I’d neglect it.
But for 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 what our relationship is to God?
Are we his pets?

The answer, if you really think about it, is no.
God gives us freedom you and I don’t give our pets.
But he also asks much more of us than a pet owner
asks of a dog or a cat.

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,
because it would seem blasphemous,
to suggest that sort of intimacy.
And that’s exactly what Islam accuses Christians of:
Blasphemy, because we state boldly that yes, we can have an intimate relationship with God.

We say it, because the Bible said it. Before Jesus said it,
God said it over and over throughout the Old Testament.

But how? How is this even possible?*

Saint Paul tells us in the second reading:
The Holy Spirit is poured into our lives.

God stoops down, and lifts us up,
into the life and love of the Trinity.

God isn’t a solitary other, infinitely distant from us.
Unapproachable. Unknowable. Always and forever far away.

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 a practical person might ask:
OK, but what difference does it make?

It’s the difference between being God’s pet,
and being his intended, his beloved, his spouse.

You see, this explains everything about our Catholic Faith that often seems troublesome.

Why do we 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?
Why does God have so many rules?

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

You and I could be his Golden Retriever, doing neat tricks.
No. He’s preparing us, remaking us,
to be lifted up to 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.

* After I wrote this, I realized I left out a point I intended to make: namely, that because God himself is a community of love, this makes divine love meaningful. If God were solitary how would God love? But God is three persons, and truly loves; and we are raised up into that communion of love. I added this point when I gave this homily.


Liz said...

Definitively one of your best.

Jeri LeBar said...

So wonderfully written, on the subjects that , I raised as a Protestant have been so concerned about, especially the Eucharist. I am seeing that most evangelical churches are only having Communion quarterly. The Alter is not so sacred as it used to be. This hurts me deeply. I have moved near Spokane and am seeking a church still. I have previously at times attended the Catholic church, where I used to live, and really love the sacredness and the focus is all on Christ. But because I have been married more than once, I cannot become a Catholic or take partake in Communion. I was saved, and Baptized when I was 9 yrs old. Jesus was very real in my heart and confession. I raised my children in a Christian home, and now am a Senior Lady living alone. The Scriptures say that there will be a falling away of the church. I don't see this in the Catholic Church. I look forwards to reading your site. and so eloquently thought out and am sure you prayed for God's guidance on the subjects written. Would look forwards to your comments of my concern. Lovingly in Christ our Lord & Savior, J. L.

Fr Martin Fox said...


Thanks for your comment.

You indicate you think you cannot become Catholic. I don't know your situation, so I don't want to make promises I can't keep; however, from what you wrote here, that is far from clear.

Please seek out a priest near where you live and ask him about becoming Catholic, if this attracts you. I am confident he can allay your concerns.

I'm sorry I missed your comment the other day.

Jeri LeBar said...

Thank you for your reply Fr Martin! I will find answers to this concern here in Spokane. I enjoy reading your web site. jeri