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What kind of god would we want?


Public Domain via WikiPedia

Fr. Peter John Cameron, OP - published on 06/03/23

The mystery of the Trinity corresponds to our deepest human longings

There is a powerful lesson in the Church’s Office of Readings in which a persecutor of the Church engages in a debate with the heroic bishop St. Theophilus of Antioch (+185). St. Theophilus clearly gets the better of his opponent, for at one moment the man bursts out in a fit of frustration, “Show me your God!” And hear how the perfectly composed St. Theophilus responds: 

If you say, “Show me your God,” I will say to you, “Show me what kind of person you are, and I will show you my God.” Show me then whether the eyes of your mind can see, and the ears of your heart hear. Those who can see with the eyes of their bodies are aware of what is happening in this life on earth. So it is with the ears of our heart and the eyes of our mind in their capacity to hear or see God. God is seen by those who have the capacity to see him, provided that they keep the eyes of their mind open

How God shows himself

And on the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, we might also be saying to heaven, Show me your God. For we so much want to know and love God. But the way to that “seeing” is the same outlined by St. Theophilus. Only when we recognize how much our human life is designed to correspond to the life of God can we discover him, love him, and live for him. But if we don’t pay close attention to our own humanity, we will completely miss his divinity.

This paradox is captured in the sentiments of the poet Pär Lagerkvist who addresses God in his poem saying: 

Who are you who so fill my heart with your absence?
Who fill the entire world with your absence?

When we start from the experience of our own humanness, as St. Theophilus instructs us, we come to a realization that turns into a certainty that God exists. Because we know that only God can satisfy the longing, the emptiness, and the needs of life. There isn’t supposed to be absence! It is in our struggles that we come to know that we are made for God … that we need the Presence of God.

The kind of God we need

Not only that: We even know the kind of God we need. And that is what we celebrate today on this Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity.

One of the greatest miseries a person can face in life is the agony of being an orphan: not to know our origins; not to be wanted; not to be part of a belonging, a family. If we had our choice, we would opt for a God:

· who loves us into existence because he wants us to exist;

· a God in whom we would find our value — we wouldn’t find our value in our abilities or in what we have — but in the very fact that we belong to God;

· a God who, even knowing the worst about us, only loves us all the more because we need to be loved more then;

· a God who doesn’t love us because we are good, but who loves us because He is good.

· In other words, we long for a God who is a true Father.

But it doesn’t end there. The god who would be the God of our dreams would be a companion of incomparable closeness. If we ever could, we would choose a God:

· who would be our friend, walking with us through the journey of life, holding us close;

· a God who is a real flesh-and-blood presence whose nearness and touch would dispel our fear, sorrow, and despair;

· a God with the power to forgive our sins and who is lavish in showing mercy;

· a God who would accompany us in our suffering and enable us to understand its meaning and value;

· a God who would constantly remind us of God’s Fatherliness, as Jesus does at the Last Supper when he promises, I will not leave you orphans.

· In other words, we long for a God who is the Son become flesh.

And, being brutally honest with ourselves, we would also prefer a God:

· who would save us from being dragged down and dominated by so many things of the flesh: lust, greed, gluttony, selfishness;

· a God who would transform our carnal and worldly ways into spiritual and heavenly ones;

· We cherish so many things that are spiritual: justice, goodness, beauty, truth, meaning, peace, love — we want a God who is greater than all those good things … but not in a “the Force Be With You” kind of way — but as a Person, someone we can relate to, and speak to, and befriend.

· a God who is an Advocate, and Healer, and Comforter who enlightens our minds, fathoms our heart, causes us to rise above our weaknesses and limitations, changes us into persons of courage, and makes us to be true sons and daughters of God;

· In other words, we long for a God who is Spirit.

All in all, we would choose a God who would reveal to us the secret of happiness: and that is communion. Happiness happens when we go out of ourselves and live for the good of another.

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity is the feast of God —Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — making a gift of Himself to us according to our deepest longings, and wants, and aspirations. Let’s honor that gift by letting God into all our needs, and by refusing God nothing as we give back to him the total gift of ourself.


Find Fr. Peter John Cameron’s reflection on the Sunday Gospel each week here.

Holy SpiritSunday Readings
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