We do not have exclusive right to faith in God. However, the assertion that, in the one God, there is a paternity, filiation and a gift of love is specific to Christianity. With an abstract term, not biblical and certainly inadequate, we call this mystery Trinity.
The Jews deny it. In their morning and evening prayer, they repeat: “Our God is one Lord” (Dt 6:4-5). The Muslims do not accept it, for them only “Allah is great and Mohammed is his prophet.”
We speak of mystery, not in the sense of an incomprehensible, obscure reality and, if poorly understood, even contrary to reason, but of the wealth of infinite life of the one God. He transcends all understanding, and gradually reveals himself to person to introduce him in the fullness of his joy.
Will it be possible for man to explore this unfathomable secret? A wise man, who lived in the time of Jesus, stated: “We are barely able to know about the things of earth, and it is a struggle to understand what is close to us; who then may hope to understand heavenly things?” (Ws 9:16).
To penetrate into the mystery of God, the Muslims have the Koran, from which they derive the ninety-nine names of Allah; the hundreth remains unspeakable, because man cannot understand all of God. The Jews find the Lord through the events of their history of salvation, meditated, rewritten and reinterpreted for centuries, before being finally delivered to the people, and later, in the holy books. For Christians, the book that introduces the discovery of God is Jesus Christ. He “is the open book with strokes of spear”; he is the Son who, from the cross reveals that God is Father and gift of Love, Life, Spirit.
To internalize the message, we repeat: “Introduce me Lord, with mind and heart, in your life that is love.”
The natural phenomena that impress most the imagination of man—fire, lightning, hurricane, earthquake, thunder (Ex 19:16-19)—are used in the Bible to describe the manifestations of God.
The sacred authors used images also to present the outpouring of the Lord’s Spirit. They said that the Spirit is a breath of life (Gen 2:7), the rain that irrigates the land and transforms the desert into a garden (Is 32:15; 44:3), a force that restores life (Ex 37:1-14), the rumble from the sky, wind that strongly blows, thunder, tongues of fire (Acts 2:1-3). All vigorous images that suggest the idea of an uncontrollable bursts of strength!
Where the Spirit comes radical upheavals and transformation always happen: barriers fall, doors are opened wide; all the towers built by human hands and designed by “the wisdom of this world” shake; fear, passivity and quietism disappear; initiatives are developed and courageous decisions are made.
Who is dissatisfied and aspires the renewal of the world and of man can count on the Spirit: nothing can resist its power. One day the prophet Jeremiah asked himself discouragingly: “Can an Ethiopian change his skin or a leopard his spots? And can you do good, you who are accustomed to do evil?” (Jer 13:23) Yes—one can answer him—every prodigy is possible where the Spirit of God erupts.
To internalize the message, we repeat: “The Spirit of the Lord fills the earth and renews the face of the earth.”
With the coming of Jesus in the glory of the Father has anything on earth changed? Outwardly nothing. The lives of the people continued to be what it was before: to sow, reap, trade, build homes, travel, cry and party, as usual. Even the apostles had not received any reduction on dramas and anxieties experienced by other people. However something incredibly new happened: a new light was projected on the existence of people.
On a foggy day, the sun suddenly appears. The mountains, the sea, the fields, the trees of the forest, the scent of the flowers, the songs of the birds remain the same, but the way of seeing or perceiving them is different.
It also happens to one who is enlightened by faith in Jesus ascended into heaven: he sees the world with new eyes. Everything makes sense, nothing saddens; nothing more scares.
In addition to the fatality, the miseries, the errors of persons, the Lord who builds his reign is seen. An example of this completely new perspective could be the way to consider the years of life. We all know, and maybe we smile, of octogenarians who envy those who have less years than themselves. They are ashamed of their age. Well, they turn their gaze to the past, not to the future. The certainty of the Ascension reverses this perspective. While the years pass, the Christian is satisfied because he sees the days of the definitive encounter with Christ coming soon. They are happy to have lived, do not envy the young ones but look at them with tenderness.
To internalize the message, we repeat: “The sufferings of this present time are not worth compared to the future glory that will be the revealed in us.”
Baal, the great god worshiped throughout the ancient Middle East, was the lord of the rain, the “rider of the clouds” from whom depended the fertility of the fields and animals. They burned incense and bended the knees to him. The Israelites too did this thus arousing the Lord’s jealousy and the indignation of the prophets. In the Bible, his name appears often accompanied by that of a place—Baal-Safon, Baal-peor, Baal-gad…—corresponding to the mountain on which the shrine he was revered stood. Like him, the other gods of that area were also identified with the name of the place where the devotees rendered them worship.
In this cultural environment, it is surprising that the Israelites conceived their God as the one who binds his own name not to a place but to the people: “I am the God of your fathers—he declares to Moses—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob” (Ex 3:6); “I am with you—he often said to his people—be not dismayed, for I am your God” (Is 41:10).
Israel understood that the Lord tied his heart to persons and took care of his people, yet she imagined him also ready to punish “the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation” (Ex 34:7). He contemplated the work of his hands, but he had not yet seen his face of Emmanuel—God with us—and, above all, had not yet discovered his heart.
The disciple who, during dinner, rested his head on the breast of the Lord revealed to us that God is love, only love and everyone who loves is begotten of him.
To internalize the message, we repeat: “When I will understand Love, I will learn to love.”