June 11, 2017
In Palestine, during the New Testament times, the everyday language was the Aramaic. That was the language Jesus Himself was speaking. The four gospels, as all the New Testament writings, were written in Greek. Yet, Jesus’ words spoken in Aramaic were so deeply imbedded in the minds of the authors of the gospels, Jesus’ words spoken on His mother tongue were so dear to them, that some words and phrases of Jesus were left in the original Aramaic even in the Greek gospels. Such words/phrases of Jesus are: “Talita kum” (“Little girl, get up”) raising a child from the dead; the verse of Psalm 22 spoken by Christ on the cross: “Eli, Eli, lama sabaktani” (“God, my God why have you abandoned me”); “Ephphatha” (“Be opened”) healing a deaf man. But more precious than all these was the familiar word Jesus used when He was speaking about God; He called God, “Abba,” “Father,” a form of the Aramaic word for “Father,” that was used at those times by children in a family talking to their dad: “Dear Father.” Even St. Paul borrowed this name and used it in two of his letters: in the one to the Romans and the other to the Galatians. But this relationship of familiar closeness to God was unique for Jesus not shared with His disciples. Jesus distinguished between the disciples’ relationship to God and His own relationship to him. In the gospel of John, the risen Jesus sends Mary of Magdala to the apostles with these words: “Tell them: I am going to MY Father and YOUR Father, to my God and your God” (Jn 20:17). And when Jesus was teaching the apostles how to pray, He did not say: “WE pray to God like this,” but He specifically told them: “This is how YOU are to pray: ‘Our Father’” (Mt 6:9). For Jesus God was MY Father, for us, His disciples, God is OUR Father. Jesus is the only-begotten Son of God, while we Christians are God’s children by adoption, as the result of the saving work of Jesus.
Considering this tremendous mystery of the Holy Trinity and considering the undeserved gift of sharing in the life of the Holy Trinity, we humbly say: “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.”
What is this special and unique relationship between Jesus to God whom He called His Father? First of all, it means that if God is His Father, then Jesus is the Son, as He frequently calls Himself, particularly in the gospel of John. Jesus shares the totality of what the Father is. Yes, this Father-Son connection means that the Father, possessing the divinity without receiving it from any other, gives it entirely to this Son whom He begets from all eternity. Thus, Jesus, the Son of God who became a man like us, sharing our humanity, communicates to us, reveals to us the identity of God the Father, thus Jesus becoming God’s full and perfect self-revelation. This is why, when, during the Last Supper, Philip asked Jesus: “Show us the Father,” Jesus rebuked him saying: “Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me, has seen the Father” (Jn 14:8-9). All the infinite wisdom, power, goodness that is in the Father is present in Jesus, not like in a mirror-image because a mirror-image is not a reality, only the reflection of the reality, but in the true fullness of the Father’s very being. And the Father and Son are inseparable because they are united eternally in Love so powerful and limitless that this Connection, this Love between the Father and the Son becomes Himself a person, the person of the Holy Spirit. This is why St. John dared to state in his letter that “God is love” (1Jn 4:16).
This unity or union of Father, Son and Holy Spirit has been revealed to us human beings at the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River in an event which was like a new act of creation. As Jesus emerged from the water, the Father’s voice came from heaven, pronouncing, uttering, generating, and revealing to those present who Jesus really is: “You are my beloved Son,” and, at the same time, expressing His utter delight in Him: “With you I am well pleased” (Mk 1:10), while the Holy Spirit, like a mighty wind, the primordial creative power of God in the first chapter of Genesis, the Holy Spirit, hovered, in the form of a dove, above the waters.
We have the most moving record of the intimate relationship between Jesus and His Father in the chapter 17 of the gospel of John in the form of Jesus’ priestly prayer. The prayer itself implores the Father for His disciples but while Jesus is praying for us, indirectly He reveals also the sublime intimacy and union that is present between the Father and the Son, because while, among other things, Jesus is asking the Father for unity among the disciples, He speaks also about the intimate union that binds the Father and the Son into one. These are the words of Jesus: “I pray for them, that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us… so that they may be one as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one…” (Jn 17:20-23). Which means that real unity, or union, is possible only in God and through God the Holy Trinity. These words are indeed mind boggling and humbling that Jesus chose us to tell us about the limitless love flowing constantly between the Father and the Son. But what is even more disconcerting is the purpose of this revelation, the purpose why the Son of God came to us: He was sent by the Father to the human race to start a new people of God, the community of the Church the members of which would be included in God’s very own life, in this constant flow of love between the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit. This is the wonder and the greatness of our salvation, this is the wonder and greatness of our vocation as human beings, this is the reason why Jesus was conceived, born, was teaching, suffered, died, and rose from the dead: He wanted to give us a full share in this constant stream of love, and in this way He made us citizens of heaven and members of the household of God. We are God’s children; we belong to the family of the Holy Trinity: can you imagine a greater dignity for human beings than this? Realizing this, we also may understand that the celebration of the Holy Trinity is not like a class in divine Mathematics, how one can be three and how three can be one at the same time; this celebration is most vital for all of us: it’s about our life and about our destiny.
[If, in the Cistercian Abbey Church, you look at the church wall behind the altar, on those big rugged stones, above the statue of the Blessed Virgin that shows that our church, like every Cistercian church, is dedicated to the Mother of God of the Assumption, - above that statue you see displayed the symbols of the Holy Trinity: an 18th century representation of God the Father, a 17th century wood carving of the “corpus” the crucified Son of God, and a 19th century art work showing the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove. And look even higher, above these sculptures you see three windows through which early morning the rays of sun give the church an orange colored glow: those three windows are also reminders of the three Persons of the Holy Trinity who give light to our hearts and minds.]
Rev. Julius Leloczky, O.Cist
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