This column will explore the mystery of the Trinity from the perspective of how the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are revealed through the call to and response from the human heart. In a way, it is reflecting deeply upon the nature of the Divine based upon Its revelation through observable human behaviors. There will be times where we are called to imitate the Divine. Other times, glimpses of the Divine will radiate from the actions of others.
Goodness, had the sixth-grade boy just said that childish, hurtful comment? The recipient was on the verge of tears. I said, “Enough. This isn’t….” Privately, he shared she was an “icky girl.” Our chat was brief. He had a choice to make. Option #1 was to share (with her) three special things about her. Option #2 was loss of recess followed by my calling his mom. He feared the discipline. His voice cracked as he said, “Why three good? I only said one bad.”
God the Father introduced throughout the Old Testament is revealed as the one God Who is Creator, ruler, and Almighty. There is an overall theme of a warrior God Who both protects His people and Who exerts judgments. In Exodus, the Red Sea is parted for the Israelites, but then flowed back destroying those Egyptians (Ex 14: 21-31). The Ninevites repented of sin in fear of the consequences of God’s wrath (Jon 3: 1-10). The first call to the heart is a reminder of the devastating consequences of sin.
I shared with the student how my two brothers and I passed through that icky brother/sister phase. We didn’t stop teasing because of punishment. We realized we were family who loved and took care of one another. A part of love is choosing not to hurt those we love. All humans are God’s children. That makes us all brothers and sisters.
Why three observations? Make a fist (in anger) to point an index finger at someone. How many fingers point to me? That is where three came from. In addition, the abundance supplies an opportunity to look more closely into the heart of the other person. Knowing he was a sixth-grader and this was new, that day I gifted him one positive observation as example. I also whispered to him a hint for a second observation. My heart was happy when he did find his own insightful third observation. When looking at his classmate, he had looked past the irritating superficial to the heart of the person within.
Jesus is the second Person of the Trinity. Jesus entered our world to bring the gift of Salvation to sinful man. Jesus freely gave His life in expiation for our sins. Jesus’ parables refine the relational aspects of God the Father. God the Father is provider and shepherd. John the Baptists’ imagery regarding the harvesting of the wheat to the barns with the burning of the chaff is a stark, visual reminder of Judgment Day and the consequences of sin (Mt 3:12). Yet, judgment is to be left to a loving God the Son Who alone knows the human heart.
The Greatest Commandment (Mt 22: 36-40) reveals the essence of Jesus’ earthly ministry. We have a God the Father Who abounds in love. We are called to love (not fear) God the Father. We are also called to love one another with unconditional, agape love. When that sixth-grader issued his own kind comment, I knew he had decided to explore the challenge to follow God out of love. He chose to reach out to connect in kindness.
About a week later, both students were again working together. Sensing tension, I turned towards their group. His body language revealed deep frustration. Then, he suddenly relaxed. He said something kind and gentle to her. Immediately, he turned towards me. His face had this amazing smile.
That radiated joy demonstrated he had felt and responded to the call of the Holy Spirit. The “Catechism” talks about the Holy Spirit as spirated (breathed from the Father and the Son). One can think of the Holy Spirit as the communication arm of the Trinity. The gentle whisper is recognized by the human heart. The question asked? Given this opportunity in front of me and knowing our place as children of God, who do I choose to be in relationship to the other? The student had grown to enjoy choosing to live within and be a conduit of God’s love.
The Trinity is the one God Who is the Alpha and the Omega (Rev 21: 6) reaching out to touch the human heart so it can experience and share in God’s love for all humanity. As St. John says, “Let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love” (1 Jn 4:7-8).
Anchor columnist Dr. Helen J. Flavin, Ph.D., is a Catholic scientist, educator and writer.