Gospel –  John 16:12-15

Jesus said to his disciples:
“I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now.
But when he comes, the Spirit of truth,
he will guide you to all truth.
He will not speak on his own,
but he will speak what he hears,
and will declare to you the things that are coming.
He will glorify me,
because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.
Everything that the Father has is mine;
for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine
and declare it to you.”

Reflection on the Gospel

Let us remember that we are in the holy presence of God.
Years ago, theologian, ethicist, Nobel Peace Prize nominee and former director of Marquette University’s Center for Peacemaking, Jesuit Father Simon Harak, posed this question to me:
Of the three Abrahamic religions, only Christianity teaches both God as Trinity and love your enemies. Do you see the connection between the two?
I will always remember that question and conversation. Ancient Mediterranean religions had multiple gods with varying jurisdictions. There were gods of the sun, moon, sea, sky, wisdom, fertility, war, and harvests. These gods didn’t care much for humans.
Both Judaism and Islam boldly declare their monotheism: “Hear O Israel! The LORD your God,
is God alone!” and “There is no God but God!” Monotheism was outside the box in a polytheistic world.
With one God with infinite jurisdiction, it’s easy to primarily image God as an authoritarian lawgiver dictating to prophets. While God is the ultimate authority and both Judaism and Islam call God merciful and compassionate, people who over simplify God in this way —even Catholics— can become rigid, focused on rules as the path to holiness, and judgmental of those not following laws. When seen like that, we might react to God from fear.
Some ancients imaged couples, male gods and goddess consorts. It can be awkward at times to get close with a couple. No one wants to be the third wheel.
The Most Holy Trinity is much more relatable! One God, yet in three distinct persons, loving and relating to each other in harmony. Our God IS a divine community of love! It’s much easier to join a community reclining at table or dancing than a romantic couple.
Yet the Trinity is a mystery we can’t comprehend. Rather, we enter into deep relationship with the Trinity in the face of our inability to understand. That’s trust, faith, and love. Do you know someone you just can’t understand and love anyway? You just love ‘em.
The Trinity takes us beyond “God loves you” to “God is love!” In that ancient world where gods didn’t care for humanity, that’s way outside the box. It was hard then to fathom God cares (Psalm 8).
“God is love” can seem cliché if we don’t let the implication sinking in.
Try imaging God as relatedness. St. Augustine of Hippo wrote that God is Lover, the Beloved, and Love. Love flows between the three persons of God. The Father is well-pleased in the beloved Son, the Son glorifies the Father, and the Holy Spirit inspires apostles to glorify the Father and the Son.
This love overflows onto the Church. The Son says “Love one another as I have loved you,” And how has the Son loved us? “As the Father has loved [Him].” The Son loves us as the Father loves the Son! Fathom that!
So how does all this lead to loving ones’ enemies?
It was once thought that God was the god of just one nation and “love your neighbor as yourself” meant loving within your group identity — party members, fellow citizens, people of your same race, maybe just people already born — not foreigners and especially not enemies.
When a legal expert asked Jesus, “…who is my neighbor?” God the Son implied a Samaritan, an enemy, WAS his neighbor!
The Trinity’s love is offered to all just as the sun shines and rain falls on the just and the unjust. God’s love is not based on group affiliation or past sins. It’s based on the loving nature of the Triune God.
At Pentecost, foreigners heard Peter in their own language because God the Holy Spirit poured into the Church sanctifying us to love and relate beyond the paradigmatic boxes in which we had understood God, others, and even ourselves.
The more deeply we relate with the Most Holy Trinity, the more we are transformed beyond loving ourselves, beyond loving our intimate community, beyond loving neighbors, and even beyond loving enemies.
We are called to love our enemies AS ourselves and even beyond THAT, to love one another as
the Most Holy Trinity loves us! Such love may transform enemies as it has us.
So at each sign of the cross and beginning of mass, call to mind how loving you are, how much
more you have yet to become, and then go forth to love your enemies in the Name of the
Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit.
Thad Crouch is a long time peace activist with Pax Christi and Veterans for Peace as well as a recent
Consistent Life Ethicist with the Consistent Life Network and St. Ignatius Martyr Parish Respect Life
Ministry in Austin, Texas. He has a BA in Religious Studies from Loyola University, New Orleans.
Saint John Baptist de La Salle – Pray for us.
Live, Jesus, in our hearts – Forever.