'If you want to know me, come and live with me'. I often heard it said when I was growing up. It is only by sharing life that we really get to know one another. Living closely together we become familiar with each other's thoughts and feelings, how we react and respond in various situations and circumstances. We can say that it is only through living together that we come to know what is on a person's mind and what is in a person's heart.
It is in such ordinary experience that the doctrine of the Blessed Trinity is revealed. In Jesus, God has come to live with us and we have come to know Him. We have been given a glimpse of God's inner life, coming to know what is on God's mind and what is in God's heart.
Already in the Old Testament there is an understanding that this God, the Lord, the God of Israel, was different. Where other gods might be thought of as interfering in human affairs, the Lord, the God of Israel, became involved in human affairs. A distant divinity might be thought of as interfering but God who becomes involved cannot be thought of as distant. God has ventured, the first reading today reminds us, identifying himself with a particular people in its struggles and history. With this people (but always with a view to all the nations of the earth), God established a covenant in which he would be their God and they would be his people.
A long process of 'getting to know you' then follows, years of wandering in the wilderness, years of settling in the land of Canaan, different forms of government and religious worship, different moments of sin and faithfulness - through all the vicissitudes of history the relationship continues to be forged, a relationship whose story is recorded in the historical, sapiential, and prophetic writings of Israel. It comes to its climax with Jesus, the Christ, who establishes a new and everlasting covenant with God's people. The Word became flesh and dwelt amongst us, showing us what the Father is like. Nobody has ever seen God, it is the only Son who is closest to the Father's heart, he has made him known.
On his return to the Father he has sent the Spirit so that we might not only know about God - as if we were outsiders and spectators looking in, as if God were still distant - but that we might be memebrs of the family of God, children of God, able to say, with Jesus, 'Abba, Father'. He has come to share our life so that we might come to share God's life. The process of 'getting to know you' continues as we search the mysteries of Christ and allow him to search our minds and hearts.
We have come to know the mind and heart of God, the Word and the Spirit, and this has happened because he has shared our life and sent his Spirit to dwell in us. 'Sharing life' is necessarily reciprocal: in sharing our life God has taken us into sharing his life.
According to the gospel reading, our task is missionary, to go out and preach the great good news. We are to bear witness to it, telling everyone that the kingdom of God has come. It is good news, great news, that all are invited to live fully as members of the family of God. The dignity of the children of God consists in this: we are to get to know God by living with God. God makes this living together possible and the place in which we learn what it means is the family he has established in human history, the community we call the Church.