domenica 22 maggio 2016

O beata Trinitas!

Nowadays it is fashionable to say that the followers of the three great monotheistic religions—Judaism, Christianity and Islam—believe in the same God. Of course, we cannot say that they believe in three different gods, because there is only one God. But can we state that the God, in whom we believe, is simply the same? Can we maintain that the differences among the three religions are minor and just regarding details, without concerning our faith in God?

The differences among the three monotheistic religions are radical: they do not regard only the figure, central for us, of Jesus Christ; but the very notion of God. We believe, like Jews and Muslims, in one God; but, unlike them, we believe that this God is in three Persons, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. How can we say this? Is it just the result of our reasoning? No; it is God that has revealed himself to us.

Of course, it was a gradual revelation. God first showed his oneness: in a pagan world, where all peoples believed in several deities, there was need of proclaiming the existence of only one God, Creator of heaven and earth. God started this revelation with Abraham. Then, little by little, he unveiled some aspects of his mystery. Today’s first reading, taken from the Old Testament book of Proverbs, is about the wisdom of God: it is not yet the full revelation of the second Person of the Holy Trinity, but it is a first step. Wisdom was set up before the beginning of the earth. When God created the world, Wisdom was with him like a craftsman. The evangelist John, who calls the second Person of the Trinity “Word”, at the beginning of his gospel says: “All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be” (Jn 1:3).

Jesus himself, during his preaching, never said that there is only one God, in three Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He just called God his “Father”; he termed himself as the “Son”; he promised, during the last supper, the coming of another Advocate, the Holy Spirit. We have just heard in the gospel Jesus saying: “I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now.” The time was not yet ripe for a full revelation of the mystery of God; the disciples were not yet ready to receive it. Only at the end of the Gospel, just before ascending into heaven, Jesus will say to them: “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” And only after receiving the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, the disciples, little by little, will understand these words of Jesus. He had said to them: “When he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all the truth.”

It was not easy for Christians to penetrate this mystery. It took some centuries to succeed in defining the dogma of the Holy Trinity: there was need of the first two Councils (Nicaea and Constantinople); and before, during and after them, there were a lot of discussions, fights, heresies about the words to use: nature, substance, person. Now we know how to speak about this mystery: every Sunday we renew our profession of faith with the words of these Councils; and we know that we are not wrong. But we also know that what we say is nothing in comparison with the infinite mystery of God, a mystery of love: the Father loves the Son, and the Son returns this love; and this mutual love is not just a feeling, like in human relationships, but a person, the Holy Spirit. We can barely sense the depth of this mystery; and yet we are called to take part in it. God invites us to join his family, to become his children, like his Son; and to do this, he has given us his Spirit, the Spirit of adoption. Saint Peter says that we are called to share in the divine nature, exactly like the three divine Persons. We are confused in front of so great condescension. The only thing we can do is to adore, thank and strive to be worthy of such a gift. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. O blessed Trinity! Amen.