The God Who Escapes Our Grasp

One of the many proofs that God has a sense of humor, and a wicked one, is that Jesuit ordinations and first masses in the United States often fall on the weekend of Trinity Sunday. In my experience, for the newly ordained Jesuit the Trinity is the theological equivalent of Charlie Brown’s friend Lucy with the football. For, no matter the anxieties about the whole idea of successfully making it through their first mass (no small task), the possibility of "capturing" the Trinity with a masterful image or theological analysis proves all but irresistible. And then there they are at the end of the homily, flat on their back -- the congregation there long before. A homily, I have to remind myself at times, is not a dissertation, and my "brilliant" disquitation on the Trinity is almost certainly not the Good News -- at least not the Good News that anyone came hoping to hear. If I’m going to take on such a difficult topic at all, my comments better have something important and personal to say about us -- about who God is for us, about God’s grace or invitation. Rather than treat the occasion as an opportunity for big game hunting, I suggest trying to think about the Trinity historically. The church’s conception of the Trinity emerged and developed over centuries, and developed out of its experience, its lived relationship with God. However we choose to define or explain the Trinity, that historical process of development reminds us that we as church are with God in a relationship that is living, organic, open to change and to surprise. And it reminds us that, as in any other significant relationship, God eludes total comprehension (read: control). That elusiveness can be frustrating. But it seems to me there’s a way in which it is also very good news. Jim McDermott, SJ

Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

El Espíritu Santo fue la buena respuesta que Dios dio a esos apóstoles aterrorizados antes la perspectiva de quedarse de nuevo solos.
"God does not like to be loved the way a warlord would like, dragging his people to victory, debasing them in the blood of his enemies."
Until now, Islamophobia has been a cornerstone of the Trump presidency, and we should look for more than a momentary shift in rhetoric as evidence for meaningful change.
Pope Francis meets with President Donald Trump on the occasion of their private audience, at the Vatican on Wednesday, May 24, 2017. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino, Pool)
President Donald Trump and Pope Francis held a private 30-minute meeting at the Vatican on Wednesday laden with religious symbolism and ancient protocol.
Gerard O'ConnellMay 24, 2017