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Saturday, June 2, 2012

Trinity Sunday: A Message from a Little Jewish Boy

  This Sunday is called Trinity Sunday or, to be exact, the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity.  A number of years ago someone asked me, "Father John, why do we celebrate a doctrine?"  An interesting question and an understandable one because we think of the Trinity in those terms, as a doctrine or teaching, one which we certainly can't figure out, but which we nonetheless believe.  The picture to the left is typical of that understanding. It shows the Father and the Son with the dive representing the Spirit up in heaven.  But what does that have to do with you and me?

   Back in 1993 I had the privilege of making a study tour of the Holy Land. While we were there we were often in the company of Israeli citizens who were going about their business and also exploring the same places that interested us Christians.  One day our group was at a site alongside Lake Gennesaret (the Sea of Galilee).  In the parking lot there was a Jewish group arriving at the same time as ours.  Soon after we arrived a little boy of about five years old in the Jewish group fell down and smacked his head on the pavement.  There was stunned silence. After about 30 seconds which seemed an eternity the little guy started crying loudly.  While no one likes to hear a young child cry like that there was relief.  He was breathing. He would be OK. Naturally he was later taken to be  checked just to be sure.  In the meantime as the boy got his bearings he jumped up and ran toward his father who was also running to him.  The boy kept shouting through his tears, "abba, abba, abba, abbaaaah!" The father bent down and picked the boy up, wiping away his tears and calming him.

   Upon witnessing this the impact of that word "abba" struck me. Most of us know that it means "father", but in context it can mean "daddy" or "pop". This was clearly a daddy moment.  THe whole scene reminded me that when the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray He said to them, "When you pray, say Our Father (Abba) who art in heaven, etc."  He wasn't just giving them a formula of prayer, but a special way of relating to God. He was saying in effect. "Let me Abba be your Abba too. Let our Spirit dwell in you too."
In other words the Trinity is not just an abstract doctrine but a divine reality in which we live.. If we understand that the whole universe was created in Christ (see John1) we understand that God is not just out there someplace, but is an eternal expression of love that draws us in and who in turn acts through us. That is what we celebrate today.  Sr. Ilia Dileo, OSF, a theologian, says that the universe is the Trinity doing the wave.  Think about that.  Let Jesus bring you to Abba. Let their Spirit move in you and be part of the wave.








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