The words Moses addresses to God in the opening reading could be all of humanity’s prayer. “If I find favor with you, O Lord, do come along in our company. This is indeed a stiff-necked people, yet pardon our wickedness and sins, and receive us as your own.” We are all stiff-necked and in need of God to help and save us. God answered this prayer and has walked with humanity. In Christ he fully accompanies us in our humanity, pardoning our sins and wickedness and rescuing us from eternal death. He continues to walk with us even now through his mystical body the church until the end of time. The whole history of salvation recorded in Scripture and lived beyond its pages is one of God accompanying us collectively and individually. In this accompanying he proves to us that he does not want us to perish, but to have eternal life.
It was through this accompanying that we came to know God as he really is, a Trinity. Nature and logic can allow us to deduce God as ‘one’ but not the ‘three in one’ of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God revealed this to us. After the fall, God did not abandon us, but rather bound himself to our story and our need for rescuing. Beginning with Israel we encounter God as a Father and then in the Father’s sending of the Son we begin to encounter God as the Trinity. The Son speaks that he and the Father are one, and that he and the Father will send a third entity, “the Holy Spirit.” Through the resurrection Jesus’ actions and claims of being one with the Father were validated and experienced, but so too also was the reality of the Holy Spirit whom the Father and the Son sent upon the apostles at Pentecost. This mysterious lived experience of the “three” as the one God led the apostles and church to proclaim the truth of God encapsulated in the term “Trinity” or “the three in one.”
In all of this, perhaps the most succinct summary of this mystery of God is from John (1 Jn 4:8) who writes that “God is love.” He further writes that “those who live in love, live in God.” If we define love in terms of relationship then it is not surprising that within the very oneness of the God who “is love” we would find relationship. In God we find the ultimate of loving relationships, between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein) wrote that, “love will be our eternal life.” Paul knew this well and famously wrote on love in 1 Corinthians 13, and today he exhorts us to be reconciled with one another so that “the God of love and peace will be with you.” If we want to experience God and enter the mystery of the Trinity then it begins with bidding him to accompany us and asking him to teach us how to love like him.
Questions for Reflection
1. Where in my life could I put love so as to experience God?
2. Where in my life could I benefit from asking God to accompany me?
Fr. Vander Steeg is pastor of St. Mary Parish, Greenville, and St. Edward Parish, Mackville.