May 27, 2018
First Reading: Deuteronomy 4: 32-34, 39-40
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 33: 4-5, 6, 9, 18-19, 20, 22
Second Reading: Romans 8: 14-17
Gospel: Matthew 28: 16-20
One of my most profound experiences as a graduate student was in a course called Trinity, God For Us, taught by Catherine Mowry LaCugna. Never before had I experienced a class that was intellectually rigorous and yet simultaneously also felt like profound prayer. I was not alone in this experience. More than a few times the class ended with deep silence, akin to a call to contemplation.
While she died only a year later, succumbing to breast cancer at 44, LaCugna’s scholarly work opened up for me an understanding of Trinity that was not an obscure doctrine but one that invited me more deeply into God’s life and into the life of the world around me.
LaCugna’s work brought to light again that “God is essentially relational,” and Trinity names how God is for us, continually moving toward us in redeeming love. And because we are made in God’s image and likeness, we are made for relationship, for the kind of loving relationship that is God’s very being. Catherine reminded us that because God is for us, we can be for each other.
In our scriptures today we get a taste of what loving relationship is like – a God who desires us, claims us, redeems us, and then calls us forth to the ends of the earth, promising to remain with us.
First, God desires us. God reaches into our lives and longs for our relationship, too. In Deuteronomy we hear that God’s desire for relationship with Israel is unrelenting. Moses asks: “Did a people ever hear the voice of God speaking from the midst of fire, as you did, and live? Or did any god venture to go and take a nation for himself from the midst of another nation…?” God continued to be involved with the people and their history, interested in the details of their lives. This relationship also had an expectation – marked by a lived covenant.
Can you remember a time when God pursued you?
Second, God offers us intimate relationship, as adopted daughters and sons. Led by the Spirit as daughters and sons of God, with Jesus we can call God “Abba.” From the life of God’s son Jesus we see what such a relationship of love looks like in the world. Yes, suffering as well as joy are part of the life of the sons and daughters of God. From the Son we know that such love for all and particularly for the vulnerable and those on society’s margins can cost – everything. This is what it means to be part of God’s family.
Who are your vulnerable sisters and brothers?
Third, our Trinitarian God shows us that relationship takes us out into the widest of worlds. The Gospel scene in Matthew is that of the Risen Christ commissioning his disciples. The movement is outward. Baptizing in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit brings others into the circle of relationship, to community and even communion. Preaching by our lives and witnessing this Good News of Jesus Christ is our call to the ends of the earth. We don’t do this alone. The Gospel closes with the promise, “And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age,” a wonderful echo of the infancy narrative in which we hear ‘they shall name him ‘Emmanuel’ which means ‘God is with us'” (Matthew 1:23).
We are called forth, in a world divided by sin, to love as God loves, to offer one another loving relationship.
How do we do this?
Here again Catherine LaCugna offers some direction, reminding us of our relational essence and call:
“We were created for the purpose of glorifying God by living in right relationship as Jesus Christ did, by becoming holy through the power of the Spirit of God, by existing as persons in communion with God and every other creature.”
So we go!
Sr. Maria Cimperman, RSCJ
Associate Professor of Catholic Theological Ethics
Director of the Center for the Study of Consecrated Life