Date: Sunday, June 07, 2020
When you are visiting an historic church like St. Peter Basilica in Rome you are expected to wear appropriate attire even in hot weather and, once inside, visitors will hear announcements in different languages to “be quiet.” Shhh! On this feast of the Holy Trinity a preacher should be reticent about saying too much about God. God will always remain mysterious and human words are inadequate to convey the divine. At best we can speak of God by analogy, that is, God is like.
Moses in the Book of Exodus wants to know God’s name before he goes before Pharaoh. The voice from the burning bush says: “I am who I am.” God is being cagy. In our First Reading God stands with Moses on the Holy Mountain and God says “Lord” and then reveals: “The Lord, the Lord, a merciful and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity.” Moses bows down to the ground in worship. And then with no little bravado Moses invites God: “If I find favor with you, O Lord, do come along in our company.” We learn something about God. God is merciful. The Hebrew word for “mercy” is associated with a woman’s womb and evokes the tender compassion of a mother’s love for her child. For Moses and the Hebrew people, God is not so much Lord of a place, a mountain, or Promised Land, but the Lord who accompanies them on the way. God is Lord of the journey.
St. Paul concludes his Second Letter to the Corinthians by wishing them God! “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.” The Church at Corinth is fractured. Paul encourages the community to mend their ways and to be at peace. Paul wants the mystery of God to rub off on them.
In the Gospel according to St. John, Jesus speaks of God as Father and loving creator. “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” Do we hear in Jesus’ words how deeply God loves all creation?
We need to reflect on these readings that say something significant about the presence and mystery of God when we are going through a pandemic and facing widespread demonstrations and protests after the shocking death of George Floyd, a black man. God is not aloof or disengaged from our struggle against the coronavirus and racial injustice. In the Book of Exodus, God says: “the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have truly noted that the Egyptians are oppressing them. Come now! I will send you to Pharaoh to lead my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.” Moses, a stutterer, an unlikely prophet, will speak up and lead the Hebrew people out of slavery and bondage in the “name” of God.
God is with us in our struggles and loses. We come to experience the mystery of God in our suffering. We pray: “Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.”