“The Family of God: In the Image of the Trinity
June 11, 2017
Genesis 1: 26 - 2: 4/ Psalm 8/
2 Corinthians 13: 5 – 11/ Matthew 28: 16 - 20
Bishop Ariel Cornelio P. Santos
We focus on the Trinity. They are so united that they are One. It is s mystery, but they are no less real. Suffice it to say that They, as the Godhead, gave their all – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It is not true that the Son was alone on the cross and the Father abandoned Him. There is this picture of the crucifixion where the Father and the Holy Spirit was with the Son crucified. Everything that God does, the Trinity does in unity.
We don’t understand how the Three can become one. It is a mystery. Like in a husband and wife relationship, we don’t understand how the two can be one. They are still two, but yet, they are one, as God says. It is no less a reality, even if it is a mystery. Like electricity, we don’t understand how it functions. We believe that if we turn on the switch, we will benefit from it; but we don’t understand how it works. It is a mystery to us, but it is real. With the wonders of the internet, we can use our phones, talk to somebody, and see them on the screen; but we don’t know how it works. Married people may have been together for many years, but despite all, they are still one; they are real.
The Trinity is a mystery, but they are real and are in unity. In Genesis, the Godhead said, “Let us make man in Our image.” We were not made in the image of the Father alone or the Son alone or the Spirit alone. We were made in the image of the fullness of the Godhead.
Looking into our body, we also don’t fully understand how it functions, even if you are a doctor. Our body is fearfully and wonderfully made. The heart pumps depending on how old we can become. No need for a tune-up although it needs to be exercised. The coordination of each part is a wonder of God’s creation. I am talking about the human body, that is, we were created in God’s image. How unified, how united our body is in working together indicates the nature of our Creator.
This is how the Godhead is One. This image may have been disfigured or damaged a little, but the image of God is indelible. It cannot be totally destroyed. No serpent or demon can destroy the image of God in us. God breathed into man’s nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being. Another translation says that man became a living soul. Who among you believe that the soul of man lives on after his body dies? It lives on because it is the breath of God! It is the life of God and it lives on. One day, it will wait for this body, after it has been destroyed, because the body will be resurrected, and it will be united again with our spirit and soul and we will live forever with God. It is the very being of God breathed into man.
At Pentecost, it is the Spirit being poured out upon flesh. We are being recreated. We are being made a new creation. Psalms says, “You send forth Your spirit and they are created and you renew the face of the earth.” The spirit of God is involved in the renewal of the world. Another version says, “When You send out Your life-giving breath, things come alive. Things come to life and the world is like new again.” This Spirit is in us, so that if we walk in this Spirit, anything that we touch, anything we speak to, lay hands on will come to life! It is not because we are good or we are a magician, but because the Spirit of God is in us. It is the breath of God – YHWH – that is in us!
We are involved in the process of restoration because the spirit of God renews the face of the earth. We sing, “Thank you, O my Father, for giving us Your Son and leaving the Spirit until the work on earth is done.” This work is the work of restoration; the renewal of the face of the earth. When Adam fell because of sin, it was not only him that died, but all of creation was subjected to futility and to corruption; and they also started experiencing death.
Creation may have been damaged, but it is indelible. The image of God that is in us is permanently indelible. Sometimes, though, what we see is the “dungis, hindi yung wangis.” What we see is the sin not the semblance of beauty. When a child is learning to eat and gets his face messy, we don’t notice the untidiness, but see the cuteness of the child. When it is our enemy, no matter how she beautifies herself, we refuse to see the beauty in her. God washes the dirt in our lives. We are all being cleansed by God to bring out the beauty in us. There remains that image, that semblance of the Godhead in us. God said in creation, “We created him in Our image, let him rule and subdue the earth, and have dominion over it.” This is to say, “Let them exercise godliness. Let him rule as We do.”
Man rules not by lording over, but by serving. If we don't walk or operate in our natural make-up, it will hurt us and take its toll. Imagine yourself walking around on your hands. It is not natural so in the long run, it will make its toll on us and we will have physical problems and then soon die. This was not the way we were built. If we go against the nature, then, we are going against life.
With this command, it is now being renewed in the Great Commission in the gospel today. Jesus told His disciples, “Make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” This is the renewal of the Genesis mandate – subdue the earth and fill it using the spirit of God, His ability and His power.
There is a difference between disciples and churchgoers. The difference is baptism. You may ask, “Bishop, are you saying that the answer to the world’s problem is the Sacrament of Baptism?” I say, “Yes and no.” I am not talking about a ceremony or a ritual. I am talking about baptism, which is a transformation. Baptism came from the Greek word baptizo, meaning immerse. The concept is like dying piece of cloth. If you immerse a white cloth into a red dye, after a while, the cloth becomes red, not white anymore. We don’t say that it is a white cloth that became red, but instead, we would name it as a red cloth. The white cloth is gone and it took on the nature of what it was baptized on.
Baptizing in the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit is baptizing a person in the original image. We remove the sin, and that which comes out is the new one, the holy one. This is what St. John prayed, “May God increase and may we decrease.” We sing, “I want more of you, God.” In fact, we want all of Him.
We sing, “Spirit of God Within Me,” and every line goes, “The Spirit of God in me possess – my hands and heart; my life; my everything.” To possess is to baptize us into God’s and let ourselves die. This is what we also mean when we say, “We offer ourselves a living sacrifice.” We have to die. We have to offer our old life, so that God can immerse us in His life.
In the Christmas song, “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” the line goes, “Adam’s likeness now efface; stamp Thine image in its place.” Our old like had to die and the image of God has to be restored and renewed in us. What are we supposed to be dyed in? The Godhead is a Spirit, and we don’t know what color it is, but Jesus became flesh. We see Jesus and whoever has seen Jesus has seen the Father because He is the fullness of the Godhead in godly form.
There are many images of God the Father. Some had pictured Him as an old, white haired guy whose is always in a bad mood. A theologian said, “The incarnate Son of the Father is the end of our imagined, faceless, nameless, austere, arbitrary, omni-being who watches you from the infinite distance of a disapproving heart.” Not only does Jesus show us who the Father is, but He reminds us of who we are as man. This is why He is one hundred percent God, and one hundred percent man.
Another theologian said, “In Jesus, we see man as he was meant to be. In Jesus, we see God as He truly is.” Another theologian said, “If you want to know who God is, look at Jesus. If you want to know how it means to be human, look at Jesus. If you want to know what love is, look at Jesus. If you want to know what grief is, look at Jesus. Go on looking until you are not just a spectator, but you are actually part of the drama which has Him as its central character.” Jesus was made like us in all things, but sin.
How do we baptize in the Name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit? Jesus says, “Teach them all that I commanded you. Look at what humanity is in Me. All authority had been given to Me – in heaven and on earth. Watch Me rule.” How Jesus rules is how we will rule. He rules and we are to rule with Him. He is the First-born of all creation. How did Jesus rule over the Romans? He ruled by forgiving them. He ruled over His enemies by forgiving them. He said, “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve,” and this is the way to rule.
The Great Commission is the renewal of the command of God to Adam- to subdue the earth; to rule it;to serve it; to be fruitful; to multiply; to immerse all of creation into the image of its Creator. We look to Jesus.
Like what the Psalmist said, I am awed that God said, “What is man that God would take thought him, that God would entrust him the management of the whole creation?” What did we do that we are special to God? In creation, on the first day, God created and as the Scriptures would say, “And God saw what He created and behold, it was good.” On the sixth day, He created man, but He did not just create man. He did not just speak man into existence, but He had the consensus of the Godhead, and used His hands to form man.
Man was fearfully and wonderfully made. After He made man, He looked at what He created and said, “Behold, it was very good.” We are special to God, and all that we can do is respond in thanksgiving. We cannot offer God anything. I don’t know why He made us special, but what I know is that I have to be thankful. The least that I can do is to respond by heeding His call and fulfilling His mandate and not blowing it like Adam did and be separated from Him. Realize that is it all by the grace of God. Apart from Him, we are nothing.
We are called to participate in the renewal and the restoration of all things and the making of all things new so that we can look forward to the life of the world to come where sin is no more; where death is no more; where there are no more tears. What we have is peace – no more war, no more hatred. This is the life of the world to come.
Brothers and sisters, we are humbled to be invited to participate in this. We respond because that is just the way it is in the kingdom of our God.