Call to Unity

by Susanna Mak

Parents and educators or care-givers of young children are no strangers to children throwing temper tantrums. There is no real miracle remedy for such situations other than exercising extreme patience! The only thing that parents or care-givers will never do is to give up on their child; no matter how fiercely the child protests. Oftentimes, we are no different than young children when we insist on our own ways and refuse to listen to each other or consider other visions and possibilities. Like the Israelites during Moses’ time, we are indeed, a “stiff-necked people” (Ex 34:9)! We live in a deeply divided world; whether it be social or political ideologies, religious beliefs, or individual opinions about anything and everything under the sun; conflicting voices fight ceaselessly to win the “popular vote” at all costs.

On this very special Sunday when we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, we are reminded that God is indeed amazing; a God who does not only watch and give instructions to us from afar but also walks with us every minute of every day; one who is “merciful and gracious … slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity”; a God who calls us to be one just as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are one; a God who loves us so much that “He gave us His only Son” (Ex 34:6; ref. Jn 10:30, Jn 15:26; Jn 3:16).

Stiffness implies a tightness; an unwillingness or inability to let go; an intense fear; a defense mechanism when we feel that the only thing we could do is to shut out everything and everyone, and try to hold on to whatever we have left in our tightly wound fists. We become resolute in our isolation, severing any ties to both friends and foes, and proclaim, “I am my own island!” Little did we know that the tighter our fists are, the more insecure and fearful we would become. In the first reading from Exodus, though the Israelites are already steeped in their “wickedness and sins” , Moses implores and encourages them that the God who has brought them out of slavery is the same God who is “merciful and gracious, slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity” (Ex 34: 6, 9). Indeed, this is the God who "claims” the Israelites as His own even when they are still wicked and sinful (ref. Ex 34:9). All they have to do is to let go of their stubborn ways and insecurity, relax their fists, and open their hands to take God’s. The commandments engraved on the two stone tablets are not only civil laws that guide one’s external behaviour but more importantly, they are God’s promise of His faithfulness and unconditional love, “I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them; I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, so that they may follow my statutes and keep my ordinances and obey them. Then they shall be my people, and I will be their God” (Ezek 11:19-20).

At the heart of the Holy Trinity Sunday is the call to unity. The Ten Commandments teaches us first and foremost to honour God and our parents, followed by actions that we must avoid: harming each other, stealing, cheating, and lying. The first four focus on our relationship with God and the last six focus on our relationship with each other. Indeed, God calls us to live in Him and in harmony with each other and treat each other with dignity, respect, and equity.

God is, indeed, most merciful and gracious, then, how shall we live? St. Paul tells us to “rejoice” and “mend [our] ways, encourage one another, agree with one another, live in peace. [...] Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the holy ones greet you” (2 Cor 13:11-12).