Each one, as a good manager of God's different gifts, must use for the good of others the special gift he has received from God. (1 Peter 4:10)

Although I was raised in the Catholic faith, went to Catechism faithfully, and even spent several years immersed in the faith as a fledgling religious, I never understood salvation as a plan conceived by God for His beloved children; I never saw the Bible, in its integral essence, as the story of that plan.

It was not until the winter of 2015, when I attended a Bible study of several weeks’ duration, that I began to see salvation in this light and to explore the entirety of this plan and story.

Never mind that “Bible study” and “Catholic” weren’t actually used in the same sentence while I was growing up. “Bible study” was something our Protestant friends did, whereas we had our priests to explain all that. We really were not encouraged to read the Bible on our own. Thus it was something of a culture-shock, when I returned to the Catholic church after more than 45 years away, to find the parishes I attended offering all kinds of group Bible study. I quickly found myself newly immersed, and I think I may have learned more in the past six years than all the years before that.

The Bible study I attended that winter of 2014-2015 was based on a video series presented by Jeff Cavins, and it changed, profoundly, the way I viewed both the Bible and the way God interacts with His people. For the first time, I began to see thGod had a plan for redemption. Before I attended this study group, I had grasped the major points: Man sinned, heaven was closed, God sent Jesus to save us, Jesus died and then rose from the dead,at from the first moment of mankind’s sin and separation from God,  saving us and reopening heaven. With this Bible study, I could begin to see what God had really done. Cavins’ materials included a timeline for the story of salvation which puts and of its pieces into the context of world history, and it was fascinating.

Just as I was getting my mind wrapped around some of this new perspective, I led a small faith-sharing group as we explored a wonderful series on prayer. This was my first ever exposure to Lectio divina — literally, praying with Scripture — and once more, my spiritual life changed profoundly. As I explored, learned, and practiced lectio divina, I began to learn and understand the privilege and value of listening for God’s voice as I pray.

And out of all of this change comes growth. The more I grow in my spiritual life, the more I realize how much more nourishment my soul needs. The more I learn, the more I see there is to learn and know. The more I know, the more I am compelled to share. The more I pray, the more I find to pray for and about.

In the midst of it all, I am, every now and then, completely astonished — in what I’d like to think is a child-like way — at the new insights that present themselves.

This morning, I found that my focus in prayer needed to be on just being in God’s presence. I thought of Him turning and His face lighting up as I came to find Him and as He welcomed me. And then I thought of my soul simply settling in, leaning in to be close and know what it is that He wants for me today. Just being there. (This process is both simpler and more complex since my beliefs do not include a picture of God as a grand old man in white robes with white hair and a halo. As my life continues, I experience God more and more as a surrounding and encompassing and perfusing Presence, a Person without the need for physical traits…but that’s probably a different blog post.)

Anyway, while I was just being there with Him and listening, I began to think about the whole vast plan of salvation that is laid out for us, and how we, at this point in history, are the beneficiaries of the fact that this plan was completed in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. And of course, I thought about the magnitude of God’s gift, that He sent His Son to take on human form and die for our sins.

That’s when it hit me. That’s when I stopped in my tracks, brought to amazement by the realization that what God actually did was give Himself to save us.

That is the essence of the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are God. Three in One, One in Three.

I like to think that what God actually said, when He conceived of His plan of salvation, was something like, “My people have separated themselves from me by sin. I love them so much that I am going to give my very self to get them back.”

The mystery of the Holy Trinity is so very, very far beyond what I can comprehend. Human attempts to describe it or explain it come up short. But the faith to believe that mystery — that’s simple.

I believe.

And when Jesus came in human form to live and teach and die and rise again, He came not just as a man but as all of God.

The awesome, mighty God Who created and Who rules the entire universe came in human form to live and teach and die and rise again. Because He loves us.

That same awesome, mighty God Who created and Who rules the entire universe comes under forms of bread and wine to feed us with His own Body and Blood in the Eucharist. Every. Single. Time.

That same awesome, mighty God Who created and Who rules the entire universe knows my name, knows each and every one of His creatures by name and loves us all individually and personally. He sees us in sin, individually and personally. He forgives us and renews us in love, individually and personally.

“My people have separated themselves from me by sin. I love them so much that I am going to give my very self to get them back.”

I can live with that.

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