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Shadows of the Future --growing into
 The Father, Son and Spirit

Rev. Paul V. Redmond
Professor Emeritus
Mount St. Mary's University

(5-30-2010) Trace a memory of an early yesteryear in your hearts. Softly walk into a memory of years ago. It is a winter's night. Gently stretch your arms as you try to wake up. You tumble out of bed and twinkle-toe to the room where Mom and Dad are enjoying some old friends. You stand in the doorway. The conversation crackles in delight but you don't understand what they're all talking about and even joking about. They're simply relaxing. They do not stop talking when you trundle in. Your experience warms as your Mom reaches out to you. She continues to laugh. You have no understanding about what's going on with all these people. They all laugh, but you do not know what the joke is. Joy and happiness fill the room, but you do not know why. No one tells you off. What they're talking about seems irrelevant. Only when you look back years hence do you understand that the warmth, deep acceptance and love in the crackling conversation in that room was somehow a "shadow of your future."

That joyful conversation among the adults will in the long run of the years become important to the child who is ever growing. A child is never just a child, but is growing up to take part in that joyful conversation of years ago. Her adult life-waits for her-but she can only take part in the joyful conversation and share in grown-up life when she herself has grown-up. One evening years later in a joyful conversation with some old friends she delightful spies her own little one standing at the doorway and reaches out.

In the words of Father Herbert McCabe, some of whose insights I have made my own and expanded: "No child is just a child. No human being is just a human being." Our future life is somehow shadowed beforehand in our present life. As little ones we experience this "foreshadowing" in the ways in which grown-ups love us, befriend us, and take care of us. That we can understand.

This ever-growing child, Friends, is you and me here and now when we speak about our tripersonal God.

All human beings can experience instances-"shadows of our future life" from the ways in which the God of Jesus Christ takes constant interest in us. The whole story of his love for us takes place in the Bible-from his creating us to his sending his Son to be one of us, one with us, to die for us, to be raised from the dead for us; and to send his very Spirit to be always with us. The Father in raising his Son to his eternal joy allows his joy to overflow from Jesus upon all humans, all the sisters and brothers of Jesus.

In our Trinitarian faith we enter into that beautiful mystery of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. All that we celebrate at Christmas, all that we celebrate at Holy Week and Easter, all that we celebrate at Pentecost and Ascension is our way of sharing in the mystery of the Trinity. It does not matter that we lack a satisfactory understanding of the Trinity. That little child who tip-toed into that room filled with adults did not understand the adult conversation. But she did understand what it meant to be accepted, loved, cared for. As the child looked forward to sharing in grown-up life, so do we -as we celebrate these wondrous mysteries of our faith, begin to realize that we are already sharing in God's love and caring for us -especially through the scriptures, the life and mission of Jesus, the writers who have come to grips with this wondrous mystery in our history, our public prayer life which is rooted in this mystery, the theologians who have valiantly explored this mystery. All these are "shadows of the future glory" where we shall know as we are known and love as we are loved .. . and where we shall understand-without-shadows.

We are made in the image of God the Father. In all we do to awaken, affirm, and cherish new life, we carry out our mission.

We are made in the image of God the Son, we reach out to the needy, the lost in our acts of inclusive love. The Lord Jesus is the Brother to us all.

We are made in the image of God the Holy Spirit-in every flash of inspiration or imagination, in every advance in wisdom and knowledge, we are a people made in the image of the Holy Spirit.

The triune God in his love for us is always taking us into Himself --- now, and after we die. One day may we too take our place in the eternal dialogue of love.

We praise our tripersonal God in Brian Haugen's hymn, "How Wonderful the Three in-One"

How wonderful the Three-in -One,
Whose energies of dancing light
Are undivided, pure and good,
Communing love in shared delight.

(to God the Father)

Before the flow of dawn and dark, Creation's lover dreamed of earth,
And with a caring deep and wise,
All things conceived and brought to birth.

(to God the Son)

The Lover's own Belov'd in time,
Between the cradle and a cross,
At home in flesh, gave love and life
To heal our brokenness and loss.

(to God the Holy Spirit)

Their Equal Friend all life sustains
With greening pow'r and loving care.
And calls us born again by grace,
In Love's communing life to share.

How wonderful the Living God:
Divine Belov'd, Empow'ring Friend,
Eternal Lover, Three-in-One,
Our hope's beginning, way and end.

Refer to Herbert McCabe. OP -God, Christ and Us, (2003) c. 20

Read other homilies by Father Paul