A Word about the Readings
by Father Gethin
(The readings may be found here)
“Who has seen the wind?/ Neither you nor I:/ But when the trees bow down their heads,/ The wind is passing by.” Thus Christina Rossetti captures the wistful and awe-filled sense that rests somewhere deeply in every soul, as we feel our innate longing for God stirred by our experience of the things He has made in creation. As St. Augustine summed up that experience in his Confessions, “You have made us for Yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in You,”—and it is as a final and perfect satisfaction of that spiritual longing that he tells the story of conversion to Christian faith. Only in the immediate, continuous, and clearly known communion of our souls with God can we find the perfect peace and joy that is our true heart’s desire.
It was as moved by such longing that Nicodemus came at night—no doubt somewhat embarrassed by his own curiosity—to find Jesus and to seek out a clearer understanding of the way that Jesus seemed to be sharing: “we know you are from God,” he told Him, as though to say, ‘we perceive a light, not altogether earthly, shining through you.’ But perception would not be enough, nor even clear understanding. The life which He was proposing, Jesus goes on to explain, is altogether new: “except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” The life of the Spirit must also be the condition of our life—for God is spirit, and may only be known and loved as such. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh,” and cannot receive the gifts of the Spirit; “marvel not that I told you, you must be born again.” “The grass withereth, and the flower fadeth, but the word of God endures for ever,” (Is. 40:8) and we too must endure, if we are to share our conversation with Him.
In this Trinity season, therefore, we rejoice, and find peace and comfort to our souls, as we reflect upon and offer our thanksgiving in God’s heavenly life, made present for us in the sending of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. “After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven,” John tells us, and though his vision is unique in its prophetic clarity, it is also our vision, as we share in that same spiritual life of divine grace and favour that belongs to every Christian. “Our conversation,” Paul would tell the Philippians, “is in heaven.” We are no more heirs with the earthly, whose inheritance is death, but with the heavenly, whose treasure is eternal life in Jesus Christ. We are of the Spirit. Think of the clear moment of joy present at every baptism; think of Christmas morning; think of the profound experience of blessing in a well shared Bible study, or a Church supper, or prayers said at the bedside of the suffering. Our conversation is in heaven. That is the mystery that is unveiled as we come to know God as our Salvation, and therefore, as Trinity: Whose life we celebrate and rejoice in, especially this day, adding our voices to the whole company of heaven to sing, “Holy, Holy, Holy.”