30th May 2021
St. Colman’s Cathedral, Cobh
During the week I had occasion to sign an important legal document and I had to do so before a Commissioner of Oaths. Before I signed, I was asked to swear on the Bible the truth of the deed my signature would make effective. In making the request they observed “Imagine asking a bishop to swear on a Bible”? I was happy to do so to fulfil the requirements of the law but also because I was comfortable to call on God, as my guarantor.
My friends, this experience triggered some reflection on my part, given that we are celebrating Trinity Sunday, celebrating the Mystery of how God has revealed the divine presence to the world as one in nature but a Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit to whom, through whom and in whom is the beginning and end of all our prayer.
In the so-called Western world once the cradle of Christianity is now suspicious at a minimum and some utterly reject the very mention of God and religion in the public sphere. There are many reasons for this negativity. Some justify it because they see religious belief as divisive. Others because in their view it is damaging and delusional. Others still have a completely distorted understanding of God which they rightly reject.
On the other hand, we live with a version of group think and political correctness that masquerades as tolerance and avoidance of difference. If it entertains the God question at all it is to suggest that we believe in the same God anyway. To pretend that there is no difference of understanding is unhelpful and foolish. To fail to seek to understand the faith and belief of another is equally unhelpful and foolish.
What all genuine religious believers share is a sense of the sacred, a sense of the divine that is greater than what we can imagine or grasp fully. And that humanity lives “in the shade of the Almighty” (Ps. 36). To the three great monotheistic faiths of Christianity, Judaism and Islam, this core belief matters deeply and is the source of our shared sense of reverence and respect. The understanding of God as Creator and Carer forms the basis for our moral code to respect and care for one another as sisters and brothers.
Frequently, we find ourselves shocked to the core by so many acts of cruelty, mayhem and murder. We wonder if nothing or no one is sacred anymore. Our way of showing who and what we value and respect comes from within our hearts and minds that have been touched by the Divine, by the very nature of our Creator.
An extraordinary fact of our lives as children of God is our freedom to say no. It happens to many because of pride, they are too well informed to believe in “pie in the sky”. For many others it is indifference – they are too consumed with their selves to think beyond. Then there are so many of us whose journey of faith follows a bumpy and winding path.
There are times it is clear and consoling, other times dark and unyielding. Difficult experiences test our fidelity and love. For us who understand God’s revelation to us as Father, Son and Holy Spirit we have a deep sense of ourselves being enfolded with the divine. In Jesus, the divine dwelt among us, walked with us, cried with us. His Holy Spirit never leaves us – always ready to accept our invitation to guide and direct us in the right path.
My friends, with the shifting sands of change we see many neglect our shared faith. For us who gather to-day to celebrate the Trinity in all its mystery, it is our witness to the truth of God in our life, not arrogant but humble. Let that witness be open and welcoming to those around us who need a word of encouragement to re-connect again. It does not promise us a rose garden but it is always grace and guidance for the journey.