Deuteronomy 4:32-34, 39-40; Romans 8:14-17; Matthew 28:16-20
Back in 1992 a man by the name of Walker Percy wrote a book which he titled Lost in the Cosmos. In his book he presented an extraterrestrial being persistently signaling these questions to earthlings:
“Do you read? What do you read? Are you in trouble? How did you get in trouble? If you are in trouble, have you sought help? If you did, did help come? If it did, did you accept it? What is the character of your consciousness? Are you conscious? Do you have a self? Do you know who you are? Do you know what you are doing? Do you love? Do you know how to love? Are you loved? Do you hate? Do you read me? Come back. Come back.”
We have spent billions on space stations and will spend billions more. We devote enormous resources to our communications industry. We have built and will continue to build an information highway and a social network that has radically changed the way we live. But when it comes to discussions about whether or not there is a personal God, we are quite skittish. Many of our contemporaries are actively skeptical that God has anything to say to us. Others say we should not take God seriously. Still others want to remove all references to God from our schools and from all public discourse. Numbers of intellectuals inform us that when it comes to the cosmic stage upon which we act out our lives there is no author, no director, and no text. They suggest that it is man’s task, not God’s, to bring order out of chaos and to create things out of nothing. All talk about God should be banned from public discussion.
It is in this context that our Church puts us today in contact with that Being upon which all realities find their purpose and meaning¸ namely the Triune God.
Is religion based on myths and lies? The author of The Da Vinci Code would have us believe that. Others tell us that humans have constructed a God for themselves. What they are telling us is that God is a fiction weak-minded people have fashioned.
I believe that no human intelligence would have ever fabricated a God that was three Persons in one God. Such a depiction of God would have been beyond the wildest imaginings in any human’s mind. It is to me, however, absurd to think that the doctrine of the Holy Trinity was invented by monks in the Middle Ages or created by otherworldly priests.
The teaching that God is Three Persons in One comes to us only from Jesus Christ. It is a teaching found nowhere else in any other known religion, past or present. It is a totally unique understanding of God.
In today’s Gospel account we hear Jesus commissioning His apostles and sending them out into to whole world to baptize everyone in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Jesus is asking His followers to live in the life of the triune God and to share that life with others. This fantastic teaching and commission is Christ’s alone.
Those first followers of Jesus were Jews, children of the faith of Abraham. Their view of God’s presence was magnificent. God was everywhere and in everything. When it rained, God was blessing them with that which made things grow and gives us life. When the harvest was good, God was caring for them, feeding them with the staff of life. When things were good, God was there. When things were bad, God was there also. And when they gazed upon the moon and the stars, they were aware of God’s extraterrestrial Presence in the cosmos.
Through the writings of their ancestors in faith, people in all cultures have come to see reality in the eyes of faith. We have only to look at the culture and beliefs of our own Native Americans to realize that. The prayers and spirituality of American Indians are rich. Their vision is echoed in the tribes of men and women all over the world and throughout the ages of human history. God was back there in their history. God is up there in heaven. God is calling us to a future destiny, And the Presence of God is here among us. His mind is found in our moral laws; His love is found in our hearts. God is our Creator; God is the One who loves us; God is the Great Spirit and animator of all living creatures, especially human beings.
Then one day these children of Abraham met Jesus, and their vision of God took on another dimension, one requiring a stupendous adjustment. In Jesus of Nazareth they came to find God dwelling amongst us. They observed how He behaved, how He cared and loved, how He lived with an inner authenticity, integrity, and an authority that gave His humanity powers never before known in any human being. In the end, St. Peter announced Him to be the Messiah. St. Thomas, the doubter, was the most direct of them all. Encountering the risen Christ he declared “My Lord, and my God!” The apostles went to their death as martyrs professing their faith in Jesus Christ as God the Son.
After His ascension these same followers experienced God’s Presence in yet another way. They realized that Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit, was personally present to them in His Spirit-filled, resurrected humanity. They experienced God’s Presence in special prayers while they were celebrating the Lord’s Supper as well as in moments of special and great human significance, in suffering, and even in death. They came to know and experience the Holy Spirit, the gift of the One who raised Jesus of Nazareth from the tomb into the Christ of glory, the One who comes to us both now and forever in His Mystical Body.
Christ gave them courage. He gave them joy. He gave them love. He gave them power to face the world. He gave them God’s Presence. Filled with God’s personal Presence Christ’s disciples they entered into our world. We, their successors, still do because we, too, are sent.
That same Holy Spirit is present among us now at work to empower us, to heal us, to love us, and to lift us up. That same Holy Spirit is here inviting us into God’s life. He is the Supreme Extraterrestrial who persistently signals these questions to you and to me: Are you in trouble? How did you get in trouble? If you are in trouble, have you sought help? If you did, did help come? If it did, did you accept it? What is the character of your consciousness? Are you conscious? Do you have a self? Do you know who you are? Do you know what you are doing? Do you love? Do you know how to love? Are you loved? Do you hate? Do you read me? Come back. Come back.”
God is our creating and life-giving Father. His self-expression was made human flesh for us in Jesus Christ. His life and love and Spirit of love live within us. He is Father, Son, and life-giving Spirit for us.
(+) May God bless us, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.