Sunday, 5 May 2013
The Holy Trinity
“Father, I really have difficulty in understanding the Holy Trinity,” said a parishioner to Father Ignatius.
“I really can’t understand why we sometimes have difficulties in just accepting the mysteries of our Faith,” replied the priest, “after all, God is not really that complicated is He?”
“It’s the three in one that I don’t understand. When we get to Heaven will we meet all three of them God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit? Or will we see just one?”
“When I get to Heaven and find out, I’ll phone you to let you know,” replied the priest with a chuckle.
There was silence for a moment or two as James continued to fix the priest’s car. Fr Ignatius stood there as an assistant handing different tools when asked.
“You obviously know how St Patrick used a shamrock to explain the Trinity,” asked Father Ignatius eventually.
“Yes … but it doesn’t really answer my question does it?”
“Everywhere around us we see in nature things made of many parts,” said the priest, “look at that tree over there. It is made up of a trunk, roots which you cannot see, branches and leaves, and sometimes it has fruits too. You don’t have difficulty accepting that all these parts make up one tree do you?”
“No Father,” said James, “I understand that they can be together as one tree, or separate … the tree, the leaves and the fruit. Is that how the Trinity works?”
“I don’t know. I just accept it and believe it,” said Father Ignatius.
“But let’s continue along this path for a moment.
“We believe in God. Whoever we perceive Him to be. Some imagine Him as a bearded old man living in Heaven somewhere; others see Him as a Spirit or a Supernatural Being perhaps … we each have a mental description of God.
“I prefer to see Him as Jesus told us about Him; a loving caring Father, Creator of everything.
“Are you OK this far?”
James nodded and put down the wrench he was using to fix the car. He wiped his forehead with the back of his hand and listened.
“In times of old God spoke to His people on earth through the prophets," continued Father Ignatius, “He guided them and gave them Commandments on how to live … I’m sure you read all about it in the Old Testament … But people did not always listen to the prophets as you well know James. They killed some of them and ignored quite a few.
“God could of course have sent punishments from above … floods, famines, pestilence and so on. And indeed He did for a while.
“He could of course have come down as a Superman type character … now that may have worked don’t you think?
“He could have frightened everyone of them into total and perfect submission. But that is hardly the behavior we’d expect from a loving caring Father is it? What is the point of enforcing His will on all of us and make us love Him under duress?”
“So God decided to come to earth as a human being. As one of us. A human we could see, talk to, listen to and witness His power of love through His miracles,” said Father Ignatius gently.
“He came as a vulnerable little baby. And for a while He was vulnerable indeed when Herod tried to destroy Him. He grew up amongst us and throughout His life it was love and only love which motivated His every action.
“Jesus was, and is, God made incarnate.
“Whatever image we may have in our mind about God being a Spirit or whatever … in Jesus we see God Himself made human just like us.
“Are you OK with my explanation so far?”
James agreed as he kept working on the car engine.
“And this is where some people get a little confused …” continued the priest.
“When Jesus was set to return to Heaven after the Resurrection, you can imagine the disciples were totally distraught.
“They'd lost all confidence, even though they witnessed the Resurrection and saw the victory.
“Their leader, their God was leaving now. What are they to do without Him? How can they carry on without His guidance? How can they build His church and preach about Him? What a responsibility without His loving, guiding hand!
“So God, Jesus, promised to return.
“And He did return, as the Holy Spirit. He returned in Spirit form, not in physical form. You remember the story of the Pentecost don’t you?
“He lived within them and they were enlightened. They spoke in different languages and taught throughout all lands.
“He lived there, just within their soul, not in human form, but as a Spirit. A Holy Ghost if you prefer.
“And the Good News is that God, Jesus, this very Holy Spirit never left. He is still here right now. He lives within some people as He did within the disciples. It doesn't mean that every Christian has the Holy Spirit within him. But some do. I have seen it.”
The priest paused for a while.
“What saddens me,” he continued, “is that these days it is so much easier for people to believe that the devil can possess people and live within them, as you see in the movies, but they cannot believe or even understand that God can, and does, live within us.”
“That’s true,” said James, “many people believe in ghosts and evil spirits.”
“Unlike the devil, God does not possess people. He dwells within us but only if we ask Him and invite Him,” Father Ignatius continued.
“That’s because God is love. He would not do anything against our will. He invites us to love Him back without any coercion whatsoever. We choose freely whether to love Him back or not. Whether to invite Him in our hearts or not.
“So when we say people have the Holy Spirit within them, we mean they have God, and Jesus Christ, guiding their very soul in every aspect of their lives; in what they do, in what they say, and when to do or say it. They serve as an example to the rest of us; and they help and lead us towards our Heavenly home.”
At this point, James, who was listening intently whilst working, dropped something accidentally on the floor.
Father Ignatius got down on his hands and knees to search under the car and picked up a bolt and nut with a washer ring on it.
The priest looked at his hand for a few seconds and then said:
“Hey … look at this James. A bolt and nut with a disc attached in the middle.”
James stopped working and looked at what the priest was holding.
“The three together are one item,” said Father Ignatius, “they work together to serve their purpose … a Trinity you might say.
“Let’s separate them.
“This bolt here represents God, Our Almighty Father.
“The nut represents Jesus, made human and come to visit us on earth.
“And this disc or washer is the Holy Spirit. You can see when we put them together again that the disc is held securely on the bolt by the nut.
“It’s the same with the Holy Trinity I suppose.
“We cannot get to see or be with the Holy Spirit, until we have accepted Jesus first. Take this nut off the bolt, and now you have the disc. Accept Jesus in your life, and the Holy Spirit will descend upon you.”
James smiled broadly.
“I’ll keep this as a souvenir to remind me of this valuable lesson,” he said.
“I suggest you use it to fix the car, and get yourself another set …” replied the priest jokingly.