A Capacity for God

(Trinity Sunday Homily)

Last Sunday I used the analogy of a tarantula spider to underscore the distance between God and man. As a human being is to an insect so man is to God--only more so because He is our Creator and we are totally dependent creatures. A spider can get along just fine without us, but without God we would dissolve into nothing.

However God has put something in us which is not present in any lower creature. St. Augustine called it capax Dei--a capacity for God. We see it the first reading: God does something really amazing. He tells Moses his name. Our translation is "LORD" all in capital letters because the original Hebrew is four consonants: YHWH. Altho it was mistakenly pronounce Jehovah, we now know the most exact rendering is Yahweh. But let's not get hung up on the original pronunciation and miss the real point. God tells us his name!

To understand what that means consider this: We give names to our pets, but we never tell them our name. You have heard me talk about our family dog Bumper. During the fifteen years he was with us, I called him innumerable times. But not once did I say to him, "Bumper, you can call me Phillip." We just did not have that kind of relationship. Not that I didn't love that dog and he love me in his own way. But I never told him my name. He simply did not possess the capacity to receive it.

It is different between us and God. We have a unique capacity for him. That is shown in God revealing to us his name. We do not need to learn Hebrew or some English rendition of that language. We can speak to him by name when we say, "dear God," or "Jesus," or "my Lord." We can enter into a genuine relationship with our Creator. Of course, as we see in the first reading, the initiative is on his side. He reaches down to us and because of that we can reach out to him.

Each moment of our existence on earth we are either reaching out to God or drawing away from him. That is the kind of creatures we are. It is like a sponge: either filling up or slowly drying out. There is no neutral state or middle ground.

Jesus has come into the world, as he says in today's Gospel, to fill us with the divine life. He does not come to condemn. Our own inner conscience does that job. Women who have procured abortions say to me they did not need anyone to tell them what they did was wrong. They live with that awareness all day long and at night when they tried to sleep. So it is with all of us. It is beautiful to hear Jesus say, "I have not come to condemn, but to save." Jesus wants to fill each of us with the eternal divine life.

What Jesus does is invite us into the very life of the Holy Trinity. As Son he brings us to the Father if only we join his eternal act of submission, the cross. The love between Jesus and the Father is, as we heard last Sunday, the Third Person of the Trinity. Jesus pours into our dry, empty soul the Holy Spirit. Only by his power can we come to the Father.

These past years, as a preparation for the new millenium, we have been focusing on the persons of the Trinity. 1997 was dedicated to Jesus the Redeemer. Last year the Holy Spirit and the present year God the Father. We are preparing thus for the great Jubilee. The year 2000 will be one of some special indulgences which we will be explaining soon. The point of all this is that our salvation is wonderful, free gift. It's not a matter of being right or even acting right--altho those things sometimes do happen as a result. What is at stake is opening our hearts to what God wishes to give us without cost--his name. An eternal relationship with him.

St. Paul succinctly summed up that relationship in the final verse of his letter to the Corinthians. We read it today. "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you."


From Archives:

Trinity Sunday Homily 2011: Origin and Goal
2010: I Have Much More to Tell You
2009: Purpose of Our Existence
2008: Family as Origin and Goal
2007: Hope Does Not Disappoint
2006: Back to the Basics
2005: Alone Again
2004: I Was There
2003: The Name
2002: An Excellent Question
2001: The Image Within
2000: Out of the Midst of Fire
1999: A Capacity for God
1998: Foundation of the Universe

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Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C

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