By Fr. Vince Freeh, MSC
All four Gospels have stories about Jesus working cures on the sabbath. In every instance his act of mercy arouses the wrath of the leaders of the Jews and draws down their condemnation: “It was because Jesus did things such as this on the sabbath that they began to persecute him.” Today’s reading is the beginning of a passionate and intricate answer Jesus gives to the Pharisees, scribes, priests, and elders to explain what he does: “My Father is at work now, so I am at work.” This statement made them even more determined to kill him because “he not only was breaking the sabbath, but, worse still, was speaking of God as his own Father, thereby making himself God’s equal.”
We cannot begin to imagine how shocking and blasphemous the words of Jesus were to the Jews; they would not even mention God’s name let alone refer to God as “their Father!” Being taught by Jesus to call God “Our Father” we know God is Triune: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, or God Knowing and God Being Known in an Infinite Self-Awareness that is and must be Love. While our belief in the Trinity is based on revelation, it is complete conformity with reason, because Love is a giving and receiving, which calls for a plurality and for equality—or more than one person who are of the same nature.
Our belief in the Trinity sets us apart from all other religions on the face of the earth. St. Patrick is known for preaching this foundational belief, using the three-leaf shamrock to exemplify Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. There are other expressions of this belief—a lit candle, three-part harmony, or a way better suited to our technological age whereby one plus one plus one is three; and one times one times one is one [1 + 1 + 1 = 3 and 1 x 1 x 1 = 1]. Love is a mystery, but we know it unifies. All the above is why we are made “in the image and likeness of God.” Lent is meant to deepen that incomparable grace.