Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity
Several years after being ordained a priest, I went back to graduate school at a secular university. Once in a seminar, the professor brought up the notorious billboards that line Interstate Highway 70 in Missouri from St. Louis to Kansas City. “Oh yes!” I exclaimed, thinking we were all talking about the same thing. What I found, however, is that what I thought was persistent and unnecessary was something different from the rest. I was offended by the billboards for adult bookstores, while my professor and classmates were offended by the many pro-life signs!
This incident illustrates what the current culture finds offensive and which strikes at the dignity of the person too – the creature who was created in the image and likeness of the Creator. The latter as an idea, “God” as a prime mover setting the universe in motion, abstract and mostly unreachable, is non-threatening. A “God” that expects nothing from us because he/she/it/they do not have much to do with our daily life is okay.
It is offensive to say with confidence, though, that God is personal and has revealed Himself to us as such. God is, according to revelation, a community of Persons – a Trinity – in a perfect relationship of love. Furthermore, we can only understand our human dignity, the concept of justice, and love itself among each other in this life – let alone an afterlife – in relation to a God who is Trinity. And perhaps even more offensive than that, God came down and told us who He is and what He is like, is that this reality has consequences for how we must behave if we should have a relationship with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
God, who is dangerous in His holiness and love, cares for us as beloved children. The Father sent His only Son to rescue and return us to Himself. Although Jesus Christ went to prepare a place for our humanity in heaven at the Father’s side, He remains with His Church always. The Holy Spirit makes this presence possible. In fact, by no other means are we able to call God Father than by the Spirit! And this dangerous and seemingly foolish condescension is why we would fight for life from conception to natural death, why we counsel purity of gaze and true love of neighbor over self-gratifying use. It only offends us because it seems unbelievable that the eternal God made us in His image and likeness to share His life in this world and in the one to come.
Reflection by Fr. Pachomius Meade, OSB