A God who sets an example

Reflection for Trinity Sunday

In 1982, Marina Nemat was a 16-year-old living with her parents in Tehran when she found herself swept up in the cruel political reprisals of the Islamic revolution in her country. Charged with betraying the revolution for articles she wrote for her secondary school newspaper, Marina spent more than two years in Iran’s notorious Evin Prison where she was tortured, threatened with execution, lost many friends to state-sponsored violence, and forced to marry her prison interrogator. In two memoirs, Prisoner of Tehran and After Tehran, Marina recounts her experience in prison and the long road to reclaiming her life.

In her second memoir, she recounts her struggle to build a new life for herself in Canada as a wife and mother. She writes how, in prison and now as an adult, her Christian understanding of God has been an anchor for her.

“The way I see Jesus has not changed much at all since I was a child, but my imprisonment and all that followed made me love Him even more. His being the Son of God makes sense to me because I believe God to be loving, just, forgiving, and merciful. I also believe that He respects free will. After all, He has given it to us so that we can choose to love or hate Him, do good or evil. But is it fair for a loving God to sit on His throne in Heaven and let us struggle and suffer on our own? Would any good father abandon his children this way? It makes perfect sense to me that God decided to come among us, live like us, and die a horribly painful death after being tortured. This is a God I can love with all my heart.

A God who sets an example.

A God who has bled and whose heart has been broken. This is who Jesus is to me. I don’t pretend that I understand the Holy Trinity. But I understand love and sacrifice. I understand faithfulness.”

This Solemnity of the Holy Trinity focuses on the ways in which we encounter God in our lives: the Father and Creator of all life, the Son and Redeemer who reveals to us the unfathomable love of God; the Spirit, the love of God that makes us families and communities.

But when it comes to a description of God, even the greatest theologian is left babbling, for human language can never ultimately capture God’s essence. Our less-than-perfect metaphors do help us begin to grasp that Love is the heart of our Trinitarian faith: the Love who created our world and fashioned it with care; the Love who passionately desired to become one of us; the Love who could never leave us but remains with us, illuminating every moment of our existence. It is that Love who enables Marina Nemat to reclaim her life after her cruel imprisonment; it is that Love who enables us to constantly reclaim our own.

As we celebrate this Feast of the Holy Trinity may we open our eyes, our senses and our consciousness to behold God’s presence in our midst in real and holy ways and to realize our simple but profound identity as children of God.