Sunday, June 03, 2007

Solemnity of The Most Holy Trinity (C)
God’s Saving Hands

Readings: Proverbs 8:22-31; Psalm 8:4-5, 6-7, 8-9; Romans 5:1-5; John 16:12-15

Sisters and brothers, the feast we are celebrating today is not easy to understand. We can understand how coffee powder, sugar and creamer can be mixed together to form three-in-one coffee. And we can understand how liquid soap, conditioner and aloe vera can be mixed together to make three-in-one shampoo. But how can God be both one and three at the same time? How can one plus one plus one equal one? Mathematically, it just doesn’t make any sense. But maybe our celebration today is not really about mathematics. Maybe it’s not so important to know how God can be both one and three, as much as it is to ask what God is like, what God does and where and how we can find God.

We all probably feel the need for God from time to time. Yet, in our experience, is it ever easy to find God? Or does it not sometimes seem very difficult? When things are going well, it’s very easy to forget our own need for God. When things are going badly, God may seem very quiet, even when we are crying out desperately for help. And then, there are also times when life seems so ordinary, when nothing seems to be happening, or times when we are just too busy with so many other things to care about God. We may go through the motions of saying our prayers or of going to Mass without actually sensing God’s presence. Where is God in all this? What is God doing? What has this to do with our belief that God is three and one, one in three?

The story is told of a spiritual guru who was walking one day with a few of his disciples along a river. As they strolled and chatted they happened to see a large spider trapped on a branch that had fallen into the water not far from the riverbank. It seemed only a matter of time before the branch would be swept away by the flowing waters and the spider would be lost. Without hesitation, the guru waded into the water and reached out his hand to rescue the spider. But the spider, mistaking the guru’s intentions, promptly bit him on the finger. The guru withdrew his hand in pain. But he did not give up. Once again he stretched out his hand to save the spider. And, once again, it bit him. It was only after suffering several painful bites that the guru finally succeeded in transporting the spider to safety. When he rejoined his disciples, one of them asked him why he was so set on saving the spider even when it was stupid enough to bite the very hand that was trying to rescue it. To which the guru replied, “In biting me the spider was simply acting according to its nature to defend itself. Why should I then not act according to my nature to want to save it?”

In some ways, this story reminds us of our relationship with God. Like the spider, we often find ourselves in trouble. We often find ourselves far away from God and in danger of being swept away by the fast-flowing waters of everyday life. But, in the midst of our trials, God constantly stretches out a hand to rescue us. This is because, like the guru, it is in God’s very nature to want to save us. Like the description of Wisdom in today’s first reading, whether we recognize it or not, God is present everywhere in the world, delighting to be with us and eager to save us from our difficulties.

We see this outstretched hand of God especially in Jesus, the only begotten Son of the Father, the second person of the Trinity. Like the spider in the story, the people in Jesus’ day did not recognize him as the saving hand of God. They felt threatened by him, by the things he said and did, by who he claimed to be, and so they tortured and killed him. And we are not much different are we? Don’t we often also fail to recognize God stretching out God’s hand to us in the various events and people that God sends into our lives? Of course, sometimes God’s hand, God’s blessings, are easily recognized. But haven’t we all also heard of blessings in disguise? Such blessings are difficult to accept, especially at first. We may have heard, for example, how the birth of a handicapped child might turn out to be a blessing in disguise for the parents. But how many of us would find it easy to receive this kind of blessing?

As we heard in the second reading, it is only by faith and through Jesus, the second person of the Trinity, that we can welcome such blessings in our life as gifts from the outstretched hand of God. And we can do this only when we truly believe in the story of Jesus, the story of how the darkness and death of the Cross led Him to the new light and life of the Resurrection. It is only when we cling to our faith in this story that we can learn to boast about looking forward to God’s glory. It is only when we truly believe in Christ, the second person of the Trinity, that we can learn to boast even in our sufferings.

But we do not do this by our own strength. Like the spider in the story, we are too easily threatened by new experiences. If we can learn to recognize the saving hand of God even in our sufferings it is because God teaches us to do so. As we heard in the second reading, the love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit which has been given to us. This is the Spirit of truth that Jesus speaks about in the gospel, the One who leads us to the complete truth. This is the third person of the Trinity. This is the other hand of God, the one with which the Father reaches into our own hearts, giving us wisdom, courage and strength in our difficulties.

This then is what we are celebrating today. More than a mathematical puzzle of how God can be both one and three, we are celebrating our belief in a God whose very nature is to save. We are celebrating a loving Father who stretches out His saving hand to us, first in Jesus Christ the Son, a hand that we see working especially in the people we meet and the events we encounter in daily life. We are also celebrating a Father who, in the Holy Spirit, stretches out his other hand into the depths of our hearts, teaching us to recognize Him.

Sisters and brothers, how is God the Father stretching out both His saving Hands to you and me today?

1 comment:

  1. I can't agree more with Fr Chris that we should not try to fathom the unfathomable God. It is an exercise in futility for the creature to comprehend the Creator. I wouldn't even try. However, as he suggested, we can ponder over what God is like, what God does and where and how we can find God. Allow me to share some of my own thoughts on these.

    What is God like? The very nature of God is to save (rescue) but the one being rescued must realise that s/he is in dire straits. Temptation is so subtle and sophisticated these days we don't even know the danger until it is too late. Unlike the spider, we must, by divine grace, be able to discern the real dangers in our lives. Where and how we can find God? I have come to realize that the God I worship is often found in everything that is the anti-thesis of the world; disappointments, self-giving, self-less relationships, forgiveness, poverty (material & spiritual), all who live on the fringes of society. All this is nothing new; Scripture is replete with them. Jesus Himself stood the world upside down to teach us these values. May divine grace help us to nurture this sensitivity to the presence and working of Almighty God in our lives.