The Power of Love
I gave my godson, Alex, a child's nativity set for Christmas one year, not long after he was born, and today, now that he's age five, it's the first thing that he gets out for Christmas, and it's the last thing that he puts away. His parents every year always spend a little time with him talking about the nativity set and all the parts of it during Advent. But this year, he began to understand it in a different way. He's reached the age where it's starting to sink in, and he was much more focused on it. So his dad asked Alex one night who he saw there around when Jesus was born. Alex said, "Well, here's baby Jesus, and here's Blessed Mary, and here's good Joseph. There's the donkey. And what are those?" His Dad said, "Well, those are the Wise Men and the camels." Alex said, "OK, Daddy, there's the angel, and there's baby Jesus, and there's baby Jesus's goats." And his dad said, "You mean the sheep, Alex?" And he goes, "No, no, no, they're not sheep. They're Jesus's goats." He said, "How's that, Alex? I didn't know Jesus had goats." And Alex said, "Yeah, Daddy, they're in that prayer. The Father, the Son, and the holy goats." He's five, and he's trying to put the mystery together, because the Trinity is complicated, isn't it? Most mysteries are. And that's why Alex is still piecing it together. The Trinity is a mystery.
I love being Catholic. We love us some mystery. We embrace it. I mean, because who could possibly understand or explain completely God and His ways? And we're upfront about it. Every time we celebrate mass, we say, "We celebrate these sacred mysteries." Because we know we understand a lot, but we don't understand everything. I mean, who could possibly explain the Eucharist and transubstantiation, how the wine and the bread becomes the body and blood of Jesus? That's a mystery. Or the stigmata of Saint Francis, St. Catherine, and so many others. How does that happen, that they bear on their bodies the very wounds of Jesus.? That's a mystery. Or the incorruptibles, saints who die and their bodies don't ever decay. It's stunning. It's a mystery. But after all, nothing is impossible with God, and no one can completely comprehend Him or His ways.
But maybe the greatest mystery of them all is the Trinity. We hear those marvelous questions asked at every baptism we attend, "Do you believe in God, the Father? Do you believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord? And do you believe in the Holy Spirit?" Or the Holy Ghost. In other words, is God one? Yes, He is. Is God three? Yes, He is. How can this be? Yes. It's just like St. Patrick said of the Shamrock. Is this one leaf or three? Yes. God is a mystery. Three Persons, one nature. Who could possibly explain God and his ways? God is three Persons relating to one another in communion. Three and one at the same time. With love and in love, as His unity, as His bond. Love defines God. He is love. He can do no other. It's His essence. Love is who God is. It's not merely what God does. In some ways, He's just like a family. You and I both know that families contain a lot of mystery. Mysteries like why does Mom never lose her temper when my sister refuses to get out of the bathroom? That's a mystery. How can that family at the parish have 14 kids, and they all look exactly the same? That's a mystery. And the biggest mystery in a family, what in the world ever caused Mom to fall in love with Dad? Mystery. But the best question is this, what's holding this family together? And I hope your answer is love, because that's true for God too. Three Persons, yes. One nature, yes. All God. Bonded together in love, with love, for love. That's God. That's why we make the sign of the cross. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. And it reminds us, reminds you and me, that we belong to a great family. We belong to the family of God.
And the only reason we know this is because he chooses to reveal it to us. It's a mystery. We see it in today's gospel, when Jesus sends the disciples out, "Hey, go make disciples. Baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit." We saw it in the Gospels when Jesus was baptized. Jesus, the Son enters the water. The Holy Spirit descends like a dove from above, and God the Father speaks from heaven. We saw it when the angel spoke to Mary. The angel speaks on behalf of God, the Father, about the working of the Holy Spirit in placing Jesus the Son in her womb. And we hear it when we say the glory be. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and the Holy Spirit. Three of the most blessed words in the English language. Father, Son, Spirit. God is three. God is one. God is love. And God is good.
Whenever I do live speaking events, I usually begin with-- I say, "God is good," and I have the people respond, "All the time." "God is good," and they say, "All the time." And then I share with them that if we were in Haiti, oftentimes the leader will say, "God is sweet," and the people will respond, "God is sweet." Yes. Yes, he is. As you go to mass, may the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you. Amen.