Three Cheers for God!

Although it is not Trinity Sunday, the readings for today invite us to reflect on the mystery of our triune God and on the way of living to which intimacy with God calls us.

It is really the psalm that sets the stage for our reflections. It summons us to praise God for the goodness shown us: “The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and of great kindness.” This description of God follows the account of the ancient Israelites’ sin of worshiping the golden calf (Ex 34:6). “Mercy” and “loving-kindness” are technical covenant words. This short verse concisely characterizes the essence of our God. It reminds us that God is not primarily a judge who punishes disloyalty, nor even one whose priority is rewarding goodness. Our God knows human frailty and is always ready to show mercy.

This is the God whom Jesus calls Father. The father-son language in the Gospel points to the intimate bond that joins them: “No one knows the Father except the Son, and no one knows the Son except the Father.” But, this passage assures us that Jesus is willing to reveal his Father to us. Thus, it is through him that we come to know this kind and merciful God.

Paul directs our attention to the relationship between Jesus and the Spirit of God. It is this Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead. It is this same Spirit who dwells in us, enabling us to live transformed lives. These readings portray Jesus as a kind of intermediary between us and both the Father and the Spirit. He reveals his Father and he shares his Spirit.

If, as the psalm states, we are in a covenant relationship with God, what is required of us? What disposition is appropriate for a covenant partner? In today’s Gospel the disciples of Jesus are once again referred to as “little ones,” those who are insignificant according to the standards of a status-conscious society (see 13th Sunday). His disciples are exhorted to be meek and humble of heart, as he is.

How puzzling! The one who alone knows God and whose Spirit enlivens the dead is meek and humble of heart. Not only is God merciful and kind, as the psalm tells us, but God works through those who are meek and humble. We see this in the first reading as well. The mysterious royal figure of the future will come riding on a lowly ass, not on a magnificent stallion. Furthermore, he will come to establish peace, not to dominate through force.

These vignettes do not deny the power and might of God. They suggest, instead, that these reside precisely in attributes of mercy and kindness, meekness and humility. The Gospel calls us to imitation. We will be like Jesus, whose very being reveals God, when we too are merciful and kind, meek and humble. As difficult as this manner of living may be, we have the power of the Spirit dwelling within us, so that we can live transformed lives.

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