Who is God? God is “the infinite divine being, one in being yet three Persons”— so says the catechism. Direct question, concise answer. It is all so simple on paper, but it sounds so impersonal. How does the doctrine, which is the central tenet of our faith, really touch our lives? Today’s readings give us glimpses into this mystery. They create a kind of collage that leaves us with impressions, not a clear picture.
In order to impress on the Israelites the importance of a particular way of life, Moses reminds them of the extraordinary character of the God who calls for this commitment. This is not a deity who simply seeks to control lives; this is the source of life itself. This God took personal interest in a relatively insignificant people and continues to show interest in us today. To use the words of the great Jewish philosopher Martin Buber, this is a God who is not only with us, but who is for us as well.
Paul makes an astonishingly bold statement, telling us that we have “received a Spirit of adoption, through whom we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’” We are not only a chosen people, “we are children of God.” As a metaphor, “father” signifies source of life, loving protector, attentive guide. These relational attributes are profoundly intimate. Furthermore, as heirs of God we are “joint heirs with Christ.” We enjoy a relationship that is both with God as father and with Christ, who is now our brother. These relationships are anything but impersonal.
What we know about God’s nature, we know from Jesus. He it is who told us that he proceeded from the Father and that the Spirit is his own Spirit. It is through Jesus that we were brought into the intimacy of the divine “family,” baptized into its threefold name. His life, death and resurrection shout to the heavens the extent to which “God so loved the world.”
We may know about the mystery of God from Jesus, and our own experience tells us that God is indeed with us and for us. We know that God creates, because we are immersed in creation; we are in fact a marvelous example of God’s creative artistry. We know that God sustains, because we are cared for by the very world within which we live. We know that God saves, because even now we are being freed from the bondage of our addictions, from the tyranny of our demons. Whether or not we understand the catechism’s answers, today’s readings assure us that we live in the embrace of the loving, triune God.