“Moses went up the mountain…and the Lord descended in the form of a cloud, and Moses stood with [God] there.”
That image of God descending as a cloud is perhaps apt in capturing the mystery of God and certainly the mystery of the Trinity which we celebrate this weekend. All of our beliefs, our traditions, our texts, or visions all find their source and summit in the Trinity.
We can talk about the Trinity as if it is all so straightforward – like pointing to a cloud and saying “there it is! What don’t you get?” And yet a cloud is mysterious: other than knowing where it floats, it cannot be contained; it has no unifying shape. Likewise, the Trinity, too, is a mystery. The name – more a quality than a name – reaches for that mystery. Trinity merely says Threeness as a quality e.g. un-ity, tranquil-ity, etc.
One might think so much mystery was grounds to dismiss faith, and yet, strangely, everything of our lived experience flows out of this Trinity. The great grace afforded to us is the Son, coming among us as Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, sent to us to help us on our journey. Pope Francis says that Jesus is the “face of the Father’s mercy”. He reveals the Father to us. Building on this, the Holy Spirit then “builds, animates and sanctifies the Church” (Catechism 747).
We may not be able to contain the Trinity within a book or a paragraph, yet down the ages and long after us, Christians will rise up saying “I have encountered Jesus! I want others to meet him!” They saw the “cloud” through Jesus and the work of the Holy Spirit, they knew something of what/who they encountered. The mystery remained a mystery, yet they reordered their lives around it.
Who or what is this strange mystery that people order their life around, or to whom they dedicate their life? Any plan, contract, or investment worth its salt today is supported by seemingly endless paperwork: rules, statutes, definitions, scopes, agreements, appendices and so on. But with a life dedicated to Father, Son and Spirit – it seems to be based on simply a strong sense – a conviction that a presence is felt, a call is heard deep within.
The Israelites encountered this mystery in the cloud. They weren’t afforded paperwork and definitions, but in heeding its voice, they left the familiarity of Egypt and they arrived at the Promised Land. In our own time, saints and martyrs have happily left everything, even their lives, owing to a transformational encounter with this mystery. They leave behind the legacy of life fully lived and a more Christian world.
As a Christian, can you attest to having had a transformational encounter with God? Have you seen the cloud in what Jesus and the Holy Spirit have done in your life – even while the mysteries and the questions stand? Perhaps your answer is “yes” and you freely talk about it to anyone who asks. For those who struggle to answer with a firm “yes!” the parish is gearing its activity towards facilitating such encounters. This aim is also conspicuous in our very mission statement: to be a community that accompanies people to encounter Jesus. The source and summit of the strategic plan boils down to this: Encountering the Father, through the Son, in the power of the Spirit.
Have you had a transformational encounter with the Trinity? What is your relationship to the Father? Do you know the Son? Have you experienced the power of the Holy Spirit?
I hope to hear your stories of faith, when we encounter each other in the week.