God is always with us

  • May 28, 2009
Trinity Sunday (Year B) June 7 (Deuteronomy 4:32-34, 39-40; Psalm 33; Romans 8:14-17; Matthew 28:16-20)

The universe is still in motion from the tremendous force released by creation. With their sophisticated instruments, scientists measure the cosmic reverberations and aftershocks of the Big Bang. After so many billions of years we only detect whispers and traces of that actual moment. But it is still unfolding and we experience its effects daily. Creation continues — the cosmos continues to evolve and we continue to change.

In a similar fashion Moses appeals to the people of Israel to remember the manifestation of God’s power that redeemed them from slavery and accompanied them to the Promised Land. Their selection and redemption was both unlikely and unearned — the only reason was God’s unconditional love for the people whom He had chosen. And now Moses exhorts them never to forget both the power and the love. They are to draw on the energy and the after effects of that primal memory to remain faithful to God’s commandments and live according to divine principles. God is not finished with them for redemption is a continuous process. Throughout Israel’s history disaster occurred whenever the nation either forgot God’s original kindness or allowed it to become a religious or cultural artifact rather than a living reality.

The death and resurrection of Jesus is the founding event for Christians. It has reverberated throughout the centuries, imprinting culture, history and countless human lives. It was nothing that human beings earned or deserved but was given only by the compassion and mercy of God. Remembering the love and power that God manifested on our behalf helps us to order our own lives and remain faithful to the teachings of Jesus. We face the same dangers when the Christ event becomes ritualized or dogmatized and is no longer a source of energy and inspiration. The echoes and currents set in motion by the life of Christ are all around us and can be perceived when we open our minds and hearts.

Our own relationship with God continues to evolve. Paul explains that our faith is not just a religion but an invitation to share in a unique relationship with God. The gift of God’s spirit adds divinity to our human nature. The cry of “Abba” is one of recognition — we realize inwardly that God is both our origin and destiny. The divine will is that we overcome the feeling of separation and distance from God and enter into relationship with the Trinity. God’s desire is to share with us all that is His. The fear that is still present in so many believing hearts is evidence that we still have a long way to go. It is the responsibility of healthy religion to instill a sense of being God’s children and heirs rather than fear and a lack of freedom.

Even the appearance of the risen Jesus could not dispel all doubts. The reaction of the disciples is a mixture of hesitation and belief as well as fear, joy and amazement. The commission of Jesus is very clear — share the good news and graces you have received with the entire world. Do not hoard it for yourselves or use it to reinforce a sense of uniqueness or identity. Teach others what it means to live a human life in harmony with the divine imprint on the soul. But before daring to make disciples of others we must make sure that we are walking that path ourselves.

Many scholars believe that the Trinitarian baptismal formula in the passage was a later addition for it represents a Trinitarian theology that would take nearly four centuries to unfold. It is not a licence to force one’s faith on others or to denigrate those of other religious traditions. The emphasis should be on “disciple” and being a disciple can take on many different forms — the essential element is that of love, service and justice. It also calls for the creation of political, economic and religious structures that mirror divine principles of equality, sharing and compassionate justice.

But the final words of Jesus we should take to heart — He will be with us always until the “end of the age.” God will never be absent from our lives even if we are not always aware of His presence. And that is meant not only as a comfort but as an inspiration and source of strength.