God is Relationship

05-30-2021Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

In the "church world"—not only in the Catholic Church but in many other faith traditions—we often use the word "mystery." This word appears when we are unable to clearly and totally explain or define a religious reality or truth. Some folks see this as a failure, excuse, or flaw in a religion, but others see it differently. Although I do understand computers a little, I really do not understand them sufficiently or completely. I know that computers work, indeed they are quite complex, and certainly even the one at my desk is beyond my understanding, nevertheless trying to understand a "quantum computer" used for the most advanced scientific projects is impossible for me. However, I "believe in computers" and their power in our lives. It is striking how people want an absolute perfect definition or explanation about God, but settle for far less in their lives about computers, which often hold their physical lives in balance or critical safety. Lest I wander too far from today's scripture, the reality of Most Holy Trinity is a mystery, both somewhat understood and also a lot not understood. Perhaps it is because the three persons in the singular Trinity exist in a relationship of persons and human persons actually have great difficulty understanding relationships among or between people.

Our first reading tells us how Moses challenged the Israelites to judge whether any other people have been as blessed as they have been. The great prophet Moses reminds them of the many gifts bestowed upon them and also encourages the people to acknowledge their special relationship with God simply by accepting and following his commands. The story that Moses retells is really a story about God's great love for his people. This story also indicates to them that it is God's initiative and deep desire for his people that gives them this relationship. As a result of this, when the people accept God's precepts and ways, they are in actuality accepting God and are becoming his own people.

Saint Paul in our second reading speaks about relationships and tells us that if we allow ourselves to be "led" by the Spirit, we are God's children and beneficiaries of the promises made by Christ. The Spirit, according to Paul, empowers us to have a relationship with our God. All we have to do is give the Spirit room in us to let this happen.

The Gospels point out to us that our God in Three Persons is focused on bringing all peoples—all "nations"—into the unity of discipleship. The command of Jesus to baptize is a command to all people to work in unity and also an invitation to belong to and to exist in a relationship with our God.

The simple truth is: God lives in, God is, and God has to be a relationship. Why? It takes a relational God to be a God of love, a God who unites and gives peace. All other possibilities of a god consist of demands and reprisals. It is clear in our sacred scripture that we are made in God's image, made to be relational and to live lives of relationship. Jesus gives us this gift to do so by the special gift of the Holy Spirit which allows us to call God "Father."

Because of the relationship of God with us and what we should have with others, we must always strive to bring people together and not actively drive them apart. In the stories of Jesus, his main work was to reconcile and to bring together and also to forgive and to heal. We need the Holy Spirit in us to motivate us and give us the courage and strength to be able to forgive and bring together the people of our lives. It is so easy to spout Catholic doctrine; it is so much harder to live as believing Catholics our doctrine of the Triune God who loves us and call us to love others with the same fervor and relationship he has for us.