Image of God
I attended the 18th birthday celebration of Willia Kristine Cabatingan at Café Laguna. It was suppose to be an intimate family affair. But at the last moment, her mom Chili Tita wanted to surprise her by including in the list significant persons in her life, relatives, extended family members and friends. Unaware of the surprise ‘party’ for her, she came in late. It dawned on her that something big was going on when she saw, among the crowd of invitees, her handsome friends, the siblings John and Axel Bordario who serenaded her with songs and music.
After the sumptuous dinner, there was a simple debut program that began with a video presentation of the debutante’s growing years. The event was punctuated by an extemporaneous giving of 18 roses and 18 candles to Willia from among the guests. The most moving scene of the night was the speech of her mom Chili that brought tears even to the birthday celebrant herself. She spoke of things that strike the heart – asking for forgiveness, encouraging her to live a God-centered life, being proud of her and assuring her of unconditional love.
As I was listening intently, what struck me was when she said: “you remind me of myself.” If there is the adage that goes “like father, like son;” there can also be a comparison of “like mother, like daughter.” For indeed, looking at Willia – tall, good looking, smart with a big compassionate heart — there is so much her mother has in her. Yet she is definitely her own, unique individual.
Such is the mystery of the human person. And much more, such is the mystery of God.
The liturgy of the Church invites us to reflect on the mystery of the Holy Trinity. The word “Trinity,” it is not found in Scriptures. But throughout the New Testament there are references to the three distinct persons who are equally divine, yet one. For instance, St. Paul in writing to the Christians in Corinth ends his second letter to them with: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you” (2 Cor. 13:13). In history, it was the Christian writer Tertullian (160 – 220 AD) known as the “father of Western theology” who coined the term “Trinity”as an easy way to refer to this reality.
The mystery of the Trinity reminds us that Christianity is not just a religion of keeping the rules. But above all it is a personal relationship with God. The greatest character of God is love. And love is an outward-moving verb. It always needs someone for love to be complete. Thus the essence of God as Trinity is its self-giving, self-donating love. He is therefore a community of three, in their uniqueness as Father, Son and Holy Spirit who have been loving each other “as it was in the beginning, is now and will be forever.” And the good news is, this divine-three, distinct yet one has invited every single person to share in their friendship and communion. To love, then, is to share in the very life of the Trinity. And it is in this that we become the image of God.
The saints were people who looked very much like God in their love, compassion and service to others. They were definitely their own unique selves. But there is so much of God in them that reflects the life to the Holy Trinity in their lives. We think of modern saints like Blessed John Paul II, Blessed Teresa of Calcutta or St. Maximilian Kolbe. Now I understand what Leon Bloy once wrote “there is only one sorrow, the sorrow of not being a saint” for the saints are God’s masterpieces. In them we see His image clearly.