The Trinity in Grandmom’s kitchen

Fr Paolo Consonni, MCCJ


Short on time, I asked my Mexican brother Fr. Vicho for some ideas regarding the Trinity. Usually, he is very creative and original, and I was certain that I would be inspired. He did not disappoint and started telling some stories about his maternal grandmother and her “theology of the kitchen.”

“God is not difficult to understand if you pay attention to life,” his abuelita (grandmother in Spanish) used to tell him when he was a kid while she was cooking meals in the kitchen, “You simply need to notice the way He works.”

She continued: “When you wash the veggies, feel the water on your hands, see how it cleans and refreshes the beans and the leaves. God is like the water: He gives life, He refreshes you, He purifies you. When you chop the veggies, smell the fragrance of each herb coming up to your nose. God does the same with each one of us when He lets us pass through difficulties: they are meant to bring out the best in us.”

And again: “The Gospel is like the garlic. If you eat it, namely if you make it become part of your life, people around you will surely feel it!” And so on and on.

She was particularly sensitive to the role of the Holy Spirit, essential both in her faith as in her cooking: “You see how the fire transforms these raw veggies and meat into delicious food? So does the Holy Spirit in you. With His power, He gradually transforms your heart so that you might be able to nourish other peoples’ lives.”

This lovely abuelita taught Fr. Vicho many other valuable lessons during her cooking time. These stories stayed with him throughout his vocational journey. After my initial amusement, upon further reflection, I realized these simple stories have something important to teach us about the Solemnity of the Trinity.

The Catechism affirms: “God’s works reveal who he is in himself; the mystery of His innermost being enlightens our understanding of all his works. So it is, analogously, among human persons. A person discloses himself in his actions, and the better we know a person, the better we understand his actions” (CCC 236).

It may be difficult to understand who the Triune God is, but fortunately, we can have a good glimpse of His nature by looking at what He has done for us. His deeds reveal His inner life and being: “The whole history of salvation is identical with the history of the way and the means by which the one true God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit reveals himself to men” (CCC 234).

This Sunday’s Gospel (Jn 3:16-17) confirms God’s methodology of revealing Himself through action: “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.” There is no better definition of God’s nature and of God’s heart than this. This is indeed the core of our faith in God.

The second part of the Gospel is less popular because it seems to exclude people from His Love: “Whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God” (Jn 3:18). Yet, even this passage speaks about God’s goodness. God leaves us free to accept Him or not, to respond to His love or not. It must be painful for God to see people refusing His offer of love. Nonetheless, God will never rob us of our freedom. Being Himself a communion of three Persons, and having created us in His own image, God knows that love and freedom must go hand in hand.

Through God’s saving deeds, dramatically recorded in the Sacred Scriptures and experienced in our own life, we can deepen our relationship with God as sons/daughters of the Father, as followers of Jesus, open to the action of the Holy Spirit who unites us in the communion of Church and at the service of the world: “the better we know a person, the better we understand his actions,” as the Catechism says.

And, in fact, the life-story of Fr. Vicho’s grandmother helped me to better understand her “theology of the kitchen.” Married at a young age, when she was 20, her husband died leaving her with one daughter, Fr. Vicho’s mother. Once Fr. Vicho asked her why she didn’t marry again. She answered: “You ask this question because you don’t know yet what true love is. My husband – your grandfather – died, but never left me. I can feel his presence every day with me, even in the kitchen.” A precious lesson about love. And since the Trinity is love, it’s a lesson about God’s nature too. Don’t you think so?