Deuteronomy 4:32-34.39-40; Romans 8:14-17; Matthew 28:16-20
Do you sometimes, quite unexpectedly, find yourself drawn from within to acknowledge the presence of God? You may be busy with some task or other, reading a book or just listening to a song on the radio, and suddenly for no apparent reason your eyes close, your awareness, your inner self senses the reality and the closeness and the love of God.
It seems in those moments that the divine suddenly and most gently overtakes you and comes to stand in the midst of the concerns of the moment which obligingly ‘bow their head’ before this wondrous visitor as if he was saying: Just for a moment, be still and know that I am God (cf. Ps 46:10 NIV).
An elderly lady I knew used to call it ‘the blessing’. She would say, ‘Sometimes the blessing comes to me and I have to stop what I’m doing.’
God has a way of presenting himself without warning. Just look at the way he revealed himself to Moses while he was tending the flock of Jethro; or to Samuel as he was lying down in the sanctuary.
A few weeks ago, during Easter, we read: the doors were closed in the room where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews. Jesus came and stood among them.
And then only last week we witnessed the totally astonishing manifestation of the Holy Spirit to the anxious apostles when: suddenly they heard what sounded like a powerful wind from heaven, the noise of which filled the entire house in which they were sitting. [When God comes he has to fill the whole entire house; it would be unseemly if he didn’t.]
We know well the rest of this wonderful story and the many similar stories of God’s interventions in the lives of his children. One of my favourites is that mystical moment in the life of the young girl Helena Kowalska, now known as St Faustina. She was at a dance when Jesus appeared to her. In her diary she relates:
As I began to dance, I suddenly saw Jesus at my side, Jesus racked with pain, stripped of His clothing, all covered with wounds, who spoke these words to me: How long shall I put up with you and how long will you keep putting Me off? At that moment the charming music stopped, [and] the company I was with vanished from my sight; there remained Jesus and I.
At this moment I am wondering if perhaps there are not a number of you in this church right now who are recalling a graced moment when they were touched by a visit from God, an experience of God? Many of the saints of the Church had these experiences and each one taught them, and us, what God was like.
Abraham experienced God; that’s all we are told. We are permitted to believe it was God the Father. It was Jesus, the Son, who came and stood among the disciples and the Holy Spirit who invaded the room where the apostles were praying together with Mary.
Above all it is the experience of Jesus as recorded so faithfully in the Scriptures which teaches the Church about the inner nature of God and provides for each of us a touchstone against which to judge our own religious experiences.
Jesus spoke of the Father as God. He constantly spoke of the love he had for the Father and of the obedience with which he carried out the works of the Father (Jn 5:19): I tell you most solemnly, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees the Father doing: and whatever the Father does the Son does too.
The Jews well understood that for a man to claim that he was doing what ‘the Father does’ went way beyond just doing good works. This, indeed, is why they wanted to kill him (Jn 5:18): But that only made the Jews even more intent on killing him, because, not content with breaking the sabbath, he spoke of God as his own Father, and so made himself God's equal.
Jesus referred to himself as the Son of the Father and equal to the Father in his own divinity. As a man he recognised that (Jn 14:28): the Father is greater than I; while as God he could use of himself the sacred phrase ‘I am’ which God spoke to Moses: Jesus replied: 'I tell you most solemnly, before Abraham ever was, I Am (Jn 8:58).
So, the heavenly Father is God and Jesus is God. However, Jesus is not the Father and the Father is not Jesus; they are distinct and separate persons.
The Holy Spirit is mentioned by name no less than eighty-eight times in the (Jerusalem Bible) New Testament. Without quoting chapter and verse the truth which emerges from the Scriptures is that the Holy Spirit is God, the third person of the Blessed Trinity.
We all know that there is only one God and that he is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This is the Trinitarian Christian faith. It is and must also be the Christian experience of God. Through Jesus, in the Spirit, we are drawn to the Father who wants nothing less than to draw us close to him, into communion with the life of the Blessed Trinity.
Though our minds cannot fully grasp this miracle of love let us at least do our best to joyfully live the life of discipleship, to worship in gratitude, and to praise God that we are chosen to be his own.