Sunday, May 22, 2016
Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity – the mystery of God as three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and yet one God. It is perhaps one of the most challenging mysteries of the faith to understand from an intellectual perspective. How can three things be one? St. Patrick famously tried to explain this using the image of the shamrock – three leaves, yet united as one. The Catechism of the Catholic Church has this to say about the Trinity, “The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is the mystery of God in Himself…The whole history of salvation is identical with the history of the way by which the one true God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, reveals himself to people.” Does that clear things up for you? Probably not. And yet, I think that this feast and this reality can speak to us deeply.
Trying to dissect the Trinity in its parts like a science experiment will get us nowhere, but instead asking what the Trinity has to say to us is a profoundly interesting question. Understanding that God is a Trinity of Father, Son and Spirit tells us that the Trinity is all about relationship. Right from the beginning of the Bible, we hear God say, “Let us make human beings in our likeness.” And, “It is not good for the man to be alone.” We know that loneliness is one of the most painful things we can experience – now, this is different than enjoying good, renewing alone time – I’m speaking of the sense that we are alone in the world and that perhaps no one cares for us or knows us intimately. We thrive when we are in good, healthy, loving and intimate relationships with one another – whether it’s the devout love of family, or the deep, abiding bonds of friendships; the loving and romantic ties we find with a spouse, the love of our children, or so many more – we are meant to be in relationships.
This desire comes to us from the God who in the heart of His very nature is a loving relationship – Father, loving Son, loving Spirit in eternal perfection. This loving relationship is so perfect and so powerful that it overwhelms us. In the Trinity is a God who loves us so much that as God the Father He created us. Who loves us so much that He became one of us, as God the Son. A God who loves us so much, that He never wants to leave us and so remains with us, as Holy Spirit.
Love is what the mystery of the Trinity is all about. When we receive and offer love, we most profoundly show our created likeness to God. The First Letter of John reminds us that, “God is love and all who dwell in love, dwell in God, and God in them.” We could replace the word Trinity for God in this passage and know that when we love, we are in the Trinity and the Trinity is in us.
The Trinity tells us that God wants to share Himself with us. He wants to give to us all that He is. It tells us that God is so generous that He gave us Himself, in flesh, to suffer with us and die for us. It tells us that God so generous that He continues to give us Himself in the Body and Blood of Jesus at each Mass. It tells us that God is so generous that He shares with us gifts: wisdom and understanding, courage and piety, knowledge and counsel and awe.
The Trinity tells us that we have a God who loves us beyond our wildest dreams as three distinct persons with limitless possibilities. And He wants us to not only know that deeply, but more importantly to imitate it in our lives. “Let us make human beings in our likeness.”
We know that we area least godlike when we limit our love, when we are filled with anger, hatred or prejudice towards other people. We fail to live up to our godly image when we are isolated and isolationist; when we care more about our own accumulation than about another’s need. But, we are made in the likeness of a God who is Trinity. Our call is to love like the Trinity. To have a love that is creative like the Father – one that brings forth life into the world; whether literally through our children, but also in the way in the way that we encourage and lift up one another – give them life – especially those who are in need of affirmation and friendship. It can be in the way that when faced with the prejudice of another, we respond to lovingly to remind them of the dignity of everyone, even if we don’t agree. Our love can be in the flesh, like God the Son, when we treat the homeless or the hungry person as a real person and reach out to them in their need. Our love can be abiding, as with the Spirit, in the ways that we make commitments of love to one another, commitments that are willing to weather the storm and find the path of healing, forgiveness and reconciliation.
Let us today learn from God’s example of limitless, loving relationship to reflect the same to the world around us. Let us find our God in the world around us, and let us be the generous presence of God to the world. “God in three persons, blessed Trinity!”
May the Lord give you peace.