St Ignatius’ Vision of Christ and the Father at La Storta, Domenichino (1581–1641), c.1622; Los Angeles County Museum of Art

St Ignatius’ Vision of Christ and the Father at La Storta, Domenichino (1581–1641), c.1622; Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Fr Thomas’s homily at Mass on the Fourth Sunday after Trinity (5 July)

No one knows the Father, except the Son, and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

The mystery of the Holy Trinity stands at the very heart of our Christian faith, it took the theologians a while to figure some of the details out, but right from the beginning we have pointers like this. The Father and the Son are in a relationship with each other — and it is this fact, that there are Persons in the Godhead, and relationships between them, that means that one of those Persons could become incarnate — could become man, could become one of us. We are also given the reason why — to bring us into a relationship with the Father.

This makes an excellent summary of the whole of our Faith. That through the Son, through his becoming one of us, he is calling us to know the Father — to be in a relationship with him.

This was God’s free choice. The Father and the Son (and, of course, the Holy Ghost) were up there in heaven, knowing each other, loving each other, being in that perfect relationship with each other — God could have spent eternity like that, there is nothing which could add to his perfection in the slightest, he had no need of anything else. But he chose to create the universe, and he did this simply so that he could be in a relationship with us. Simply so that he could show his love for us all.

Nothing which we did caused this, nothing which we could do could ever deserve this. It is simply because of God’s loving nature. He wants this relationship to be there for us. He wants to make himself known to us. Just because he loves us.

If we pause and consider this, it goes far beyond anything which we can imagine. God in all of his greatness, in all his majesty and splendour, wants us — small frail creatures that we are. And he became man in the person of Jesus Christ simply to do that — to make the Father known to us.

By ourselves, we cannot even begin to know God. We can learn a few basic facts about him: we can know that he exists, we can know that he is one and unique, we can know that he created the universe…and that’s about it. The minds that examine the universe in such detail, which can build spacecraft, which can create artworks of staggering beauty can only come up with a few of the most basic facts about God — he is so far beyond our imagining. But yet, Christ wants to reveal the Father to us, wants to let us know him. This is the gift of Faith. It is only by this gift that we can come into that relationship of love which knowing God involves.

But we need to receive this gift, and we need to cultivate it. We don’t get to know another person simply by reading about him or her. We don’t become friends with somebody just through their reputation. We need to spend time with people in order to get to know them, and in order to develop friendships with them. This is true of God as well.

God wants us to come close to him, to spend time with him, to grow in our knowledge of him. He takes the initiative here, he sends Christ to us to draw us to God, to reveal him to us. But he needs us to respond. He needs us to spend time with him, to spend time in prayer. Because that is where we truly get to know him.

We are again able to gather for Mass — thanks be to God. This is truly to best form of spending time with him. But let us all strive to keep spending time with him through the week — let us not keep him in a small box marked ‘Mass’; let us live lives walking constantly close to him.

God has opened his loving arms to us, he calls us to come to him, to spend time with him, and to get to know him. It is up to us how we respond.