Sunday: How We Are Like God
Catholics have holidays celebrating God’s interaction with mankind: Jesus’ life from birth to baptism to death; his mother’s life; his saints’ lives. This Sunday’s Solemnity celebrates God himself, in himself.
God is a mystery too big for us to grasp, but this Sunday’s readings (Trinity Sunday, Year C) show that it is a mystery of light, not of darkness and confusion. In fact, the readings describe what God is like — and how we are like him.
First, God is awe and majesty.
The Psalm compares the awe we have looking up at the stars with the awe we should have in God: “When I behold your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars which you set in place — what is man that you should be mindful of him, or the son of man that you should care for him?”
When we feel insignificant and inspired looking at the stars, that’s the right feeling to have: It helps us understand our place.
Second, God is self-giving.
Jesus explains the Holy Spirit in the Gospel: “He will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you. Everything that the Father has is mine.” This perfect harmony and communal sharing is sort of a divine version of humility. None of the Persons claims the graces of divinity exclusively for himself, but each glorifies the other.
Third, God’s life isn’t all awe and majesty: It is also “delight” and “playfulness.”
Today’s first reading gives a rare glimpse of the “inner life” of the Holy Trinity. It depicts the relationship of God the Father and God the Son “long ago … before the earth.” The reading shows the two working as partner “craftsmen” in creation. And it includes this detail, from the voice of Wisdom, traditionally identified with the second Person of the Trinity: “I was his delight day by day, playing before him all the while, playing on the surface of his earth.”
Human beings are made in the image and likeness of God and share exactly these three characteristics.
First, we have a share in the awe and majesty of God. Says the Psalm, “You have made [humanity] little less than the angels, and crowned him with glory and honor.” Knowing how high our calling is should help us aspire to a high standard of character.
The second reading shows how the Trinity, in very practical ways, helps us meet that high standard in the rough and tumble of life. “Through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us,” writes St. Paul, “affliction produces endurance, and endurance, proven character, and proven character, hope, and hope does not disappoint.” He gives us his very life and we find happiness by imitating his self-gift for others.
Third, the readings make clear that the “delight” and “playfulness” of God isn’t reserved to his own inner life. In the course of creation, the second Person of the Trinity says “I found delight in the human race.” God doesn’t just tolerate us: He delights in us, and that’s the greatest help we have in the Christian life. We should love his creatures as much as he does.
Together, that’s the good news of Trinity Sunday: God is love and he made us like himself.