God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. (John 3:16-18)
Any man may have a child. It takes someone special to be a father.
On Trinity Sunday, we also commemorate Father’s Day. In remembering and honoring our fathers, we recognize that the vocation to be a father is divine. In fact, this is how God describes His relationship with us. When the disciples ask Jesus to teach them to pray, Jesus says, “Abba, Father.” Perhaps because we are so familiar with the Lord’s Prayer, we are not as astonished at these words as the disciples must have been. In Aramaic, the word “Abba” does not simply mean father, but is a familiar, intimate term of endearment akin to “daddy” or “papa.” (In Swedish, it is equivalent to “kitsch pop.”) For the Jewish people, the name of God is sacred and thus is seldom spoken or written, lest it be dishonored or used irreverently. For this reason, the authors of the Old Testament employ various circumlocutions for the name of God, which are translated as “Lord” or “Almighty.” When Jesus calls God, “Abba,” it is a shocking moment of revelation: God wants us to relate to Him not only as the Almighty creator of heaven and earth, but also as a loving father does with his child.
This connects with our celebration of the Trinity. The revelation that God is Trinity teaches us that God is not some isolate, distant force that exists apart from creation, but is a relationship of Persons who loved and continue to love creation into existence. We are invited to share in this dynamic love of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as St Paul says to the Romans: “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as son, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” (Rom. 8:14-16). In this way, Jesus gives us insight into the inner life of God. The Holy Spirit that Christ sends at Pentecost is an extension of His own living presence, which echoes the eternal procession of love in the inner life of God. On this Sunday, we are invited to share in this life.
Last weekend, we hosted the Called and Gifted discernment retreat here at St. Dominic’s. What struck me about this retreat was the urgency of the mission to which Christ calls us. God calls us all to share the Gospel with others, and whether we know it or not, he gives us the gifts that we need to be successful. But let’s face it; we need to be reminded of the importance of this mission. As Fr. Emmanuel reminded us on Ascension Sunday, the last words Jesus speaks on earth are to commission His followers to make disciples of all nations.
This commissioning is a “Trinity moment” as Christ reveals God as Father, Son and Spirit. He says, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit…And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (Mt. 28:18-20) The mystery of the One God as a relationship of persons forms the sacred language of baptism, that moment when we are born into the life of God. As a spiritual father, it is always a privilege to speak these words of Christ whenever I baptize. As I pour the water and invoke the name of God as Father, Son and Spirit, the Trinity comes to life in the soul of the baptized. It is a moment of creation, for in the moment of baptism, we are drawn into the life of God who is a relationship of love. As we celebrate and honor our own fathers this weekend, let us once again experience God’s love for us as we pray, Our Father…
~Fr. Michael Hurley, O.P., holding an icon of
The Most Holy Trinity painted by Lucia Dugliss