The Holy Trinity is all about three persons who live in unity, co-operation and love.
In every hamlet, village, town and city in the country there are thousands and thousands of people promoting unity, togetherness and mutual support through various organisations, be they sports, mutual interest groups, various clubs, churches, charities, etc.etc. And yet we seem incapable of electing leaders who promote and seek unity and peace among all our people.
The ordinary people (forgive the term because they are in no way ordinary) of this country respect one another and rub along pretty well together, most of the time, co-operating on many levels for the common good. But our leaders come among us and sow dissent, mutual suspicion and disunity for their own selfish ends and ambitions.
How do such good, intelligent people elect such leaders???
There is one thing we must thank Mr. Trump for. He has brought home to us, in the most graphic way, how ubiquitous ‘fake news is’ and how irrelevant truth is to political leaders of all persuasions and colours.
Speakers of truth are drowned out and vilified. Speakers of truth are labelled as the enemy. They are regarded as a treat to national interest and security.
A house divided against itself cannot stand. A country divided against itself cannot stand. History is littered with the bones of mighty nations and empires brought low by internal dissent and disunity. Are we not now witnessing the same dissolution of the United Kingdom??
This is what Jesus of Nazareth referred to as the power of this world.
He told us that he had overcome the powers of this world (the power of untruth and greed) by absorbing all the evil the world could trow at him (his arrest, torture and execution on a cross) and then rising triumphant from the dead.
He told his disciples that though they must live in this world for the time being yet through his teaching and the power of the Holy Spirit he has taken them out of this world, meaning that we are enabled to live our lives in this world as people who do not belong to the falsehood and greed of this world.
We are enabled to live as people of the Resurrection.
Look on the Holy Trinity as the exemplar of the basic human unit as created by our God. The human family. Husband, wife and child, bound together by love, mutual support and mutual dependence.
A sailing ship with unfurled sails can be quite a sight, but it is going nowhere without the wind.
The function or action of the Holy Spirit in our lives has been likened to the action of wind on the sailing ship.
This, of course, is only a human image and like all human images of God or the action of God, is subjective, symbolic and inadequate.
To continue with this image of the sailing ship, even if there is wind but its sails are furled it will only drift aimlessly. Should it also be anchored it will only drift in circles.
The function of religion and the churches is to help me to weigh anchor and unfurl the sails so that when the Holy Spirit breathes on me I am ready to move. Like the crew of the sailing ship I have to be willing to move from where I am and take all necessary action so as to catch the wind of the Spirit when it comes.
At no point in my life will my spiritual life and practise of religion be adequate. It will always be a work in progress. It must always be changing. There must always be movement from where I am to some other position.
Like the crew of the sailing ship I must wait patiently with anchor raised and sails unfurled. This is what I describe as `unconditional availability’ to my God and to my fellow human beings.
This is what is meant in Lk. 12: “Gird your loins and light your lamps and be like servants who await their master’s return from a wedding, ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival. Amen, I say to you, he will gird himself, have them recline at table, and proceed to wait on them.”
And Rev. 3: “Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me.”
Should I have the TV blaring loudly (that is being preoccupied with self interest ) I will not hear the gentle knock.
How open and alert am I to the breath of the Spirit? Have I weighed anchor and unfurled the sails ready to move, or am I still at anchor or, worse still, am I tied up at the wharf waiting for the perfect weather forecast, which of course never comes?
We can be utterly unaware of the prompting and guidance of the Spirit
of God in our lives or we can be constantly aware of the guidance and
help of the Spirit. Again most of us are a combination of both to varying
degrees. Another variable is the type of person we are.
Never judge your spiritual life; your relationship with God, by comparing it with that of others, or comparing it with what you read
about some `saint.’ Each one of us is created different. Each one of us
will have a different relationship with God depending on the sort of
person we are. Again never disparage another’s relationship with God. This is something I find difficult as one is inclined to thing that ones experience of God is the only valid one.
Each one is led by the Spirit in their search for God and the relationship
they have is, within certain broad limits, something which can only
bring delight to God.
As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago when discussing the ‘sensus fidelium’ (that is the church, as God’s family on earth, be it universal, national or parish level, being led and guided by the Holy Spirit in their discernment of what is right or wrong, what is Christian teaching or not Christian teaching ) today’s Gospel reading reiterates this ability inherent in the Christian community.
As always happens in human influenced organisations the political and institutional entity of our church has claimed this help and guidance of the Holy Spirit as solely their prerogative and domain.
These claims were widely used and enhanced by church leadership from the fourth and fifth centuries ad. As St Augustine, in the fifth century, put it succinctly; ’Roma locuta est, causa finita est.’ ( translated; ‘Rome has spoken the matter is closed’)
As church political leadership laid greater and greater claim to being the sole recipient of the guidance of the Holy Spirit they downplayed and ignored any such ability existing in the local church community. This was graphically illustrated when John Paul 11 completely shut down any discussion of the possibility of female ordination, solely on his own initiative.
Pope Francis is trying to reverse this long standing trend by urging local bishops conferences to solve their own problems and work out their own initiatives. A great number of bishops are allergic to making any moves in this direction; not least our own.
Human beings as a race are power hungry. We grab all the power we can.
We are at least partly to blame for this. We allow it to happen on the civil political level and also on the Church political level. We sit back, shrug our shoulders and moan ‘what can we do?’ We should have to be dragged away, kicking and screaming in protest, at being deprived of our God given rights and abilities.
‘I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word.’
Jesus is not just praying for his original disciples who knew him personally but for all who believe and follow his teachings as passed down to us from his original disciples.
Why is he praying to the Father for us – for you and I – ‘so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you.’ So this is why Jesus was sent by the Father to live among us. So that you and I may live in unity, peace, mutual respect and mutual support.
Furthermore Jesus goes on to say that this is the only way ‘that the world (those who know not God) may believe that you sent me.’
We are always being told to pray for this and for that. Which many of us do.
You judge for yourself as to whether these prayers are being answered.
Praying, it seems to me, is the easy option. One comes to me for help and I say ‘I will pray for you.’ Does that alleviate his/her hunger?
I know the answer very well but I hide from it.
It is in today’s Gospel reading and I quote it again ‘I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me.’
Christianity is an invitation for us to join and share in the life of the Holy Trinity family.
Where do I start? Not with God. God is out of my line of sight. Never gets in my way. Never contradicts me. Never tells me to stop acting the fool.
So I start with my family. ‘So that we may all be one, as you, Father are in me and I in you.’
Then I try the same with my Christian family – my parish family.
Then seeing how we live our neighbours and acquaintances may begin to believe that Jesus of Nazareth was sent by God.
After all does not the life and words of Pope Francis do the same for you and I.