Saturday, May 29, 2010

God in Three Persons, Blessed Trinity


“God in Three Persons; Blessed Trinity.” Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity – something we all take for granted, and often don’t quite understand – the mystery of God as three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, in one God. The Trinity is one of the most intellectually challenging mysteries of the faith. The difficulty is very basic – how can three things be one? St. Patrick famously tried to explain this using the image of the shamrock – three leaves, yet one shamrock. 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…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 we can come to a better understanding of the Trinity in our lives – spiritually and practically; if not intellectually.

We all remember what we did at the beginning of Mass today. It is the same thing we do at the beginning of every Mass. We did this. You can do it with me now. [make the sign of the cross] Now, from my perspective, I can tell you, you didn’t all do it as exacting or as symmetrically as I just did. Some of you gave a little squiggle; a finger might have touched your forehead, maybe brushed touched your chest and completely missed the shoulders. It is a gesture that we do often more as a reflex that a conscious movement. But whether you made the sign of the cross with precision or just instinctively waived your hand in the air about the head and chest, it was a gesture that pointed to the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity. When we are conscious of what we are doing in that act, it is a simple act of faith in the complexity of God who is revealed to us in the mystery of the Holy Trinity.

I say “revealed to us” because we wouldn’t have a clue about the Trinity if Jesus didn’t tell us about it. Jesus talked about His Father in Heaven, about Himself as the Son of God, about going back to Heaven and sending to us the Holy Spirit. This is what the Catechism means when it says, “The whole history of salvation is identical with…the way…God…reveals Himself to people.” The Trinity is a mystery revealed by God, but that doesn’t mean it is mystifying. It is a mystery of God that God wants us to be drawn deeply into.

So, let’s think about the sign of the cross and how it can draw us deeply into this mystery. First we touch our forehead and say, “In the Name of the Father…” When I hear those words, I think of so many things – the beauty of the trees, and flowers and plant life coming into bloom this time of year; I recall beautiful red sunsets at the beach as the setting sun shimmers on the water; the grandeur of the great Berkshires or the White Mountains; the feel of a warm breeze in Spring; I think of all the young children who received their First Holy Communion just a few weeks go; or the giggling and crying babies baptized this Easter season and the pride and happiness on the faces of their parents. I think of all these things because God the Father is the Creator of a beautiful world – something we should always be aware of and should always cause us to marvel at His nature! I leave my finger on my forehead because I, too, am part of that incredible creation. And, I’m reminded not only of a Creator but of Someone so totally in love with us that He sent His only Son to draw us back into His embrace. This same Father we speak of as “Our Father who art in Heaven.”

Next we move to our chest, to the place where the heart resides and say, “and of the Son.” Here I think of the love the Son of God showed us when He multiplied the loaves for the hungry, when He reached across social and racial barriers to the Samaritans, when He made room at His table for outcasts and sinners, when He chased the scavengers away from woman caught in adultery hungry for her blood, when He gave the ultimate and agonizing proof of His love for us on the Cross. “No one can have greater love than to lay down his life for his friends.”

And then we move to our shoulders and say, “and of the Holy Spirit.” We recall the Holy Spirit who gives so widely of Himself that it takes the full span of our shoulders to remind us of that – left and right, from one side of the world to the other. And I think of God’s desire to be intimate with all of us; to have the freedom of the wind; to be your friend and my friend, to be in your heart and my heart; to be in Boston or Providence, in Los Angeles or Baghdad, in Jerusalem, Rome, Tokyo and every corner of this world – all at the same time. I think of the Holy Spirit as a power in my life – the power in my life – as a great force for good and holiness, as one to turn to when decisions are to be made, as one who consoles me when I make my mistakes. To console is to be with a person who is alone. With the Holy Spirit around, no one is ever alone. God in His Holy Spirit is always with us. What we span in blessing, the Holy Spirit strengthens in life so that we may better shoulder our burdens and responsibilities.

And, so we come to the end of the blessing – the joining of hands and the concluding, “Amen.” And we remind ourselves that the word “amen” is an expression of agreement, in itself an act of faith in all that has gone before; a “so be it,” an “I believe.” And so I renew my faith. I believe in you Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

My brothers and sisters, on this Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity; this celebration of God in Three Persons; may all the signs of the cross we ever make be nothing less than a grateful acceptance of God’s love and a willingness on our part to share it with others. May the hands we join in faith be generous in giving and free to help others. May the shared life of the Trinity and the wide sweep of the blessing be reflected in our lives too. This is the lived, real meaning of the Most Holy Trinity in our lives.

And may God bless us all in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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