God: A Community of Persons
Three things that go together in human maturity are good character, right actions, and just relationships. The Oxford Dictionary defines character as, “The mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual.” We receive a personality at birth. Character is what we develop and is reflected in the way we personally think, feel, and behave as a result of our beliefs, values, experiences, nurture, and environment. Character is either good or bad. Good character becomes evident in doing right actions and building just communities that bring peace. What’s good is that which is of God, Christ-like, since He alone is good. (Mk 10:18) Right is that which accords with God’s Law. What accords with God’s Law promotes truth, which brings kindness. “Kindness and truth shall meet; justice and peace shall kiss.” (Ps 85:11) We develop the mental and moral qualities that constitute good character from Jesus’ teaching.
The notion of goodness, righteousness, and justice comes from God who is all-good, all-righteous, and all-just. So if you and I want to build good character, we must embrace Jesus and the teachings of His Church in order to know and do what’s right and what’s just. Without God we can neither know these realities nor make them our own. We need Jesus to school us in what’s good, right and just if we want the peace we yearn for and that only He can give. (Jn 14:27)
Why do we, consciously or unconsciously, yearn for goodness, righteousness, and just relationships? Even the worst criminals expect justice. It’s inscribed our soul’s DNA. How? God created us and made us like Him in our soul. Therefore we have a built-in urge, whether we recognize it or not, to be like God. Therefore, we have an urge to be good, do what’s right, and have relationships that’re just where we’re recognized, respected, and honoured as distinct but equal human beings. This is what we’ve inherited from our Creator because He is a Community of Persons.
The God of the Bible isn’t an isolated lonely God. He fully revealed Himself in the Person of Jesus, as a Trinity – three Persons in One God, fully distinct, completely united, and equal in all things. A perfect Community. This revelation wasn’t known until Jesus revealed God as Father-Creator, Son-Redeemer, and Spirit-Sanctifier. This revelation sets Christianity apart from all other religions. Jesus commissioned His Apostles after His Resurrection: “All power in Heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptize them in the Name ‘of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.’ Teach them to carry out everything I have commanded you. And know that I am with you always, until the end of the world!” (Mt 28:18-20) A person is initiated into Jesus’ Church through Baptism in the name of each Person of the Holy Trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
What difference does this make? We’re baptized in the Name of a Trinity of Persons, a divine Holy Community whose members are so united in love that they’re completely One. If God, who created our soul in His image and likeness, is a Community of Persons and baptizes us in the Name of Its Members, it follows that our soul yearns for community. The absence of community causes our greatest pain and its presence brings great joy. Thus we hear the Psalmist pray, “Our soul waits for the Lord, who is our help and our shield. May Your kindness, O Lord, be upon us who have put all our hope in You.” (Ps 33: 22) We wait for the Lord to experience that Holy Community of total Love that He is. The message Jesus gave to His Apostles and to His Church was to “love God what all your mind, heart, soul, and body, and love your neighbour as yourself.” (Lk 10:27) God sends us His Spirit so the Father and the Son can share their unconditional love with us by inserting us into their Community. This began at our Baptism. Calling us into His Community God helps us develop the mental and moral qualities that enable us to think, act, and relate in a manner that brings peace of mind, heart, and soul in our communities. To accomplish this Jesus sent the Holy Spirit … “a Spirit of adoption … calling God ‘our Father, Abba’” making us His family, His community, His Church. “The Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God… Joint heirs with Christ, if only we suffer with Him.” (Rom 8:14-17)
How does goodness, doing what’s right, and building just relationships involve suffering? To accomplish these we must admit our sinfulness, seek forgiveness, and be willing to forgive. We must put others first and practise the Beatitudes, the Christian attitudes. Overcoming our prideful ego isn’t easy. We must discipline our self, fast, and pray in order to benefit from the love of the Holy Trinity. We can do it because our God is unsurpassed. “This is why you must now know and fix in your heart that the Lord is God in the Heavens above and on the earth below, and that there is no other. You must keep His commandments that you may prosper and live long.” (Deut 4:40) God created us to be a community like Him. (frsos)