Two Jehovah Witnesses rang my bell one cold February day this year. One gentleman was a former Catholic named Guy. They were two very nice fellows. I always loved engaging the Witnesses when I lived in Brooklyn. Being a young man with very strong black and white beliefs and not much empathy for anyone, I used these opportunities to spar with people I didn’t share a common belief with (At that time, I thought all non- Catholics were heretics.) Rather than using it as an opportunity to listen to their point of view and share my own strong faith with them, it was about conquest and being right. As I grew in age and in my faith I still recognize that many non-Catholics who profess beliefs that have their roots in heretical confessions are not heretics. This is a grace to me because it helps me love other people who do not share my faith with unconditional love and without judgement. Viewing other people as heretics, especially fellow Christians, is a tool of the enemy to divide us rather than unite us. Sharing my beliefs with other Christians of different denominations without looking for a contest of right and wrong and focusing on common beliefs has enriched my life. That doesn’t mean that I don’t acknowledge that the Holy Roman Catholic Church has the fullness of the faith; it means I listen to our separated brethren with an open heart not a closed mind and share my rich Roman Catholic faith and tradition with them in an ecumenical spirit.
Meditating on the state of the world today, there is so much anger and hatred by people who really do not know one another and who do not even want to listen to another point of view. Almost instinctively ,we as a society need an enemy to focus on. And everyone has some person, some group, some class or some ideology to focus on. All this hate just energizes the enemies of our souls. Satan loves this. He loves confusion and he loves division. The cure is empathy, love, patient listening, and recognizing the other person as a child of God, a sibling in the universe and refusing to indulge in anger and hatred. Is it easy? No, it is an act of the will and must be exercised constantly. I found it is ok to agree to disagree.
I explained to Guy that through much prayer and examining what the Catholic Church teaches and how She professes the Word of God, I became convicted in my faith. I believe I was prepared for this meeting a couple of weeks prior. My grade school principal and close family friend came for an unplanned overnight visit. Sister Honora Nolty, a vibrant Dominican Sister since 1957, works with Renew International. During her stay, she shared with us that she was giving a retreat on the Blessed Trinity.
The Blessed Trinity seems to be popping up a lot in my life these days. The new pastor at Our Lady of Victory in NYC frequently talks about the Blessed Trinity in his homilies. Additionaly, I loved the avant-garde depiction of the Blessed Trinity and the theme of forgiveness in the book turned movie “The Shack”. And most recently, Spirit Daily posted St. Patrick’s Lorica Prayer of Protection, which is a love letter to the Blessed Trinity and a powerful invocation of the Oneness of the Threeness. (This is a great prayer upon rising every morning.)
Lately, the Lord is drawing my attention to the Blessed Trinity in ways I never before experienced. That is why I found Sister Honora’s visit right before her retreat on the Blessed Trinity so significant. Sister reintroduced me to Andrei Rublev’s icon of the Holy Trinity. I don’t believe in coincidences, so I pondered what God was telling me. She explained that the icon portrays the very essence of the Trinity showing the Godhead in the form of three angels eating at a table. It is based on the appearance of three travelers to Abraham and Sarah under the oak of Mamre. The Church specifically chose this particular icon because it most fully expresses the dogma of the Holy Trinity: the three angels are depicted in equal dignity, symbolizing the triunity and equality of all three Persons. Sister explined that there is an opening at the table and that seat is for us. While there is some dispute among scholars and theologians about the identity of the three travelers, I believe this was a manifestation of the Blessed Trinity in the Old Testament for one powerful reason. In every other manifestation of angels to man there was one or two never three. To me, this is enough evidence to suggest this was a visitation by the Triune God. I believe God prepares us for special events that help bring about His Kingdom on earth and this meet and greet with the Jehovah’s Witnesses proved it. Sister Honora’s visit had greater importance than I realized.
I felt on fire with the Holy Spirit as I joyfully explained to the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ my understanding of the Blessed Trinity and the humanity and Divinity of Christ as paramount Christian beliefs. The Witnesses don’t believe in the Divinity of Christ nor do they recognize the Blessed Trinity. We discussed this a bit and paraphrasing Genesis, I recalled when God created humanity saying “Let Us create them in Our image and likeness”. God spoke in plurality.
Then Guy’s partner interjected that Jesus rose as a spirit. My response was, no He rose in the flesh. He ate with the Apostles after the Resurrection. I asked if a spirit eats.
Guy’s partner responded to my question, “Have you ever heard of angels eating with man?”
And then the light went on in my head. I asked him if he was referring to the three angels that visited Abraham and Sarah and he said “yes”. That is when I shared with him the depiction of the Blessed Trinity in Rublev’s icon as illustrated by the visit of the three angels and how Catholics understand the Godhead in accordance with Scripture, especially the Blessed Trinity. If it were not for Sister Honora’s visit and her sharing her retreat topic with me and that wonderful icon, I would have not connected the three angels to the Trinity at that moment. This was a gift for me to be able to share this wonderful insight on the Trinity with these two men who were out spreading their beliefs based on their interpretation of Holy Scripture. This was also a confirmation for me to go deeper into my own prayer life and meditations on the Blessed Trinity. I enjoyed hearing their beliefs and sharing mine without that need to prove something. We were just three guys sharing our love for God. It was cold outside and I was busy with chores inside so we concluded our talk on a happy note. I thanked them for their visit and wished them well. Knowing Guy was raised Catholic, I had a feeling my profession of faith sparked some thought provoking ideas in Guy and his partner’s minds. I pray for them to Our Lady hoping they come to the Lord in the Catholic Church. I have a feeling I will see Guy again, maybe at Mass one day.
We may never know how our interactions, our faith sharing or the random doorbell visit by someone may have a profound impact in this world and in the spiritual realm. How that sharing, caring and love creates a butterfly effect eventually turning into a tsunami of faith and a return to God, ushering in the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. When we pray the Our Father and we petition for His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven, do we take it seriously enough and do our part to bring about His Kingdom on earth? May we always be on the lookout for His guidance and His inspirations and be on the ready to proclaim with love and respect the reason for our joy and our faith especially in those unexpected encounters at our door, at work, on a bus, in a store or at a family gathering. Praise be to our Lord Jesus Christ, now and forever.