Sunday, 18 May 2008

Trinity Sunday, Shaftesbury

I was to say a few words about two things: the Trinity, and the movies Star Wars.

I was very very young when the first Star Wars movie came out, and it made a big impression on me, as it did on many of my generation. My Mom sewed me a Star Wars pyjama case, and my Dad bought me a plastic light saber. I used to dream of training in a Jedi academy, becoming a Jedi knight, and summoning the power of the all-pervading life energy of the universe called "The Force".

Instead, when I grew up, I went to seminary to train to become a priest.
Trendy "New Age" philosophy might try to equate the two: priesthood-JediKnight, battling the dark side of the Force-preaching repentance from sin, and Star Wars is full of such dodgy thinking.
And that brings me on to the Trinity.
Because the basic point I want to make to you is that today’s feast of the Most Holy Trinity is not just about some abstract doctrine, but it actually teaches us what God Himself is like, and he’s very very different to modern popular notions.

If you read contemporary literature and movies, a popular image of God today is pretty much summed up in the movie Star Wars. The God of Star Wars, is "The Force", the supposed sum of the spiritual energies of the universe, and that’s how many people today mistakenly think of God.
BUT the doctrine of the Trinity tells us what is different. “Three persons in One God”. It’s all about being a person, being personal, and being able to love.

God is not just an energy, He is personal. That’s why we refer to Him as “he”, and not just “it” –and that’s why He revealed Himself as a “he”, a person.
An energy cannot love you, an “it” cannot love you, cannot relate to you in personal way, cannot care for you, cannot choose to create you, and an energy cannot die on the Cross for you, cannot give himself to you in Holy Communion at every Mass.

When Jesus came down from heaven, He didn’t just hover around us as a force. He assumed a human body, He became a real man, something only a person can do. He ascended up to heaven with that body, which is a sign that He is still a person –it’s what He is.
The Holy Spirit that Jesus promised is also a person, a person promised to us by Jesus, “I will send you another helper”, He said, to help inside our hearts.
And the Father Himself, is a person. The whole Trinity is a community of three loving persons.

Only a personal God can exist in relationship. Only a personal God can love us. Energies and forces cannot do relate to you, cannot love you; and this is what makes our Faith so different to the other religions of the world.

Final thought: we are made in the image of God. The Trinity is a community of love. Three distinct persons, all equally God, all one, and yet existing in relationship with each other.
We are made in the image of God, and that means we too are made to love,
and to be loved,
to exist in relationship with others.
If we, mistakenly, think that God is just an energy then it changes what we think about ourselves.

That’s why being a priest is NOT like being a Jedi knight. A priest exists to make a person present, Christ the Lord. That’s why 4 times during the Mass the priest or deacon says, “The Lord be with you”, not “The Force be with you”. May a PERSON be with you, a person who loves you, and who gives much more to you than the energy of the so-called “Force”.

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