It’s too bad that the traditional formula that expresses the Trinity does not include femininity. I guess it was a male, patriarchal society that thought it was enough to imagine God as Father, Son, and Spirit. Who knows what future generations will do to modify that basic statement of faith and make it really inclusive?
In the meantime, we can be grateful for such beautiful images as the one from St. Paul we just heard and others similar to it from Jesus — like the one on which he describes himself as a mother hen eagerly enfolding her young under her wings. “Enfolding” is itself a characteristically feminine concept, expressed most fundamentally by the womb itself. I hope that there are fewer people today who can picture God only as an old man with a long-white beard, because breasts and arms are also useful and truthful elements in the ultimately impossible task of imaging the invisible God.
A Franciscan priest friend of mine, a retreat giver, shared with me an old story that continues to amuse and to teach. He said that a pastor was visiting a second grade religion class and was looking over the children’s shoulders to see and to praise their drawings. He asked one little girl, “Who is that you’ve drawn, dear?. The little one answered, “That’s a picture of God.” The priest said softly and kindly, “It’s a lovely picture, but of course you realize that no one really knows what God looks like.” The child answered, “Well, they will now.”
Maybe she was right — but for the wrong reasons. The truth is that we all reveal God to one another. Everything good and true and beautiful seen in any person has to be a reflection of God. Where else, or whom else, could it have ultimately come from?
That’s the kind of religion that we need more of — sensing and responding to the signs of God’s presence we are daily encountering, so often not noticing, not realizing. No one has the right to limit the infinite God to a single definition, when all the religions and cultures of the world cannot begin to contain God, to put God in a box, as we are fond of saying. The very question, “Is God male or female?” should tell us how off the mark our thinking can be, how narrow our perspective.
We are the scripture that many persons are reading! Pope St. John Paul said that people pay more attention to personal witness than they do to formal teaching. I think that’s true. In their own perverse way, some TV idols are are far more influential in the lives of many people than they are to the teachings of the church. Male or female, young or old, we are creatures of God. Like a speck of diamond dust, we show in our visible being the marks of our invisible creator.