Holy Trinity Sunday
Deut 4:32-34, 39-40. The great God of heaven and earth has offered us a close and loving relationship with him. We should respond to this divine gift by doing God’s will.
Rom 8:14-17. Through the Holy Spirit dwelling within us, we become children of the Father, and co-heirs with Christ his Son.
Mt 28:16-20. This closing Gospel scene has Jesus’ final instructions to his apostles, including Baptism in the name of the three divine persons.
Theme: Made in the image of a God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We best reflect God’s image when we are creative, compassionate and charismatic.
Not a Remote God
There was a time in history when practically all peoples in Europe were more or less agreed about the existence of God. At that time, religious divisions arose from conflicting beliefs about God, and the bitterness between the different groups indicated the intense passion with which they held to their beliefs. This is not the case nowadays. Not only do many openly profess their lack of faith, but the quality of life we pursue tends to promote a kind of atheism in all of us. Especially in our large cities, surrounded by a world of largely human inventiveness, people are at a distance from the things of nature. As a result even the rural-based of our population are bound to feel in some degree God’s apparent remoteness from our situation, God’s silence, remaining hidden to the end of our earthly days.
For the many living things of nature, and marvellous elements of the universe, in a most powerful way, can speak to us of God. And several of the great saints, like for instance St John of the Cross, withdrew regularly into the countryside to encounter God. For most of us, it is in times of sorrow, of pain or great anguish, that we find ourselves turning almost instinctively to a God who cares about us, a God who has a bond of kinship with us, since he has identified with the suffering of mankind in the person of Jesus Christ, who has gone ahead of us, bearing his Cross also.
Today we celebrate the Feast of the most Holy Trinity, the mystery of God’s inner life. This mystery will remain for all of us as long as we live in this world, even though the veil which covers it is lifted ever so little. Our Bible assures us that not only is our God a personal God, but God exists as three Persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, while remaining one God.
Although we cannot even begin to give a logical explanation for this, our faith enables us in some small measure to experience the presence of God. How this can happen is stated by St Augustine in a most beautiful passage from his “Confessions” (p. 211). “What do I love when I love my God?” he asks. Then he continues; “Not material beauty or beauty of a temporal order; not the brilliance of earthly light, so welcome to our eyes; not the sweet melody of harmony and song; not the fragrance of flowers, perfumes and spices; not manna or honey; not limbs such as the body delights to embrace. It is not these that I love when I love my God. And yet, when I love him, it is true that I love a light of a certain kind, a voice, a perfume, a food, an embrace; but they are of the kind that I love in my inner self.” “So tell me something of my God,” he then demands. And loud and clear they answered, “God is he who made us.”
Many scientists who study the origin of the universe, maintain that, keeping in mind the complexity of the world we live in, it now requires a greater act of faith to be an atheist than to believe in the existence of a divine creator. God is creator, who continues to create and also to shape our lives, if only we surrender to this creative force. And if we place our lives in God’s hands, then, in God’s own good time, we will share in the blissful existence of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Indeed, in St John’s mysterious phrase, “We shall become like God, because we shall see him as he really is.”
Seeing God will change us utterly, and this salvation is a pure gift that always comes from the Father, announced and realised in his divine Son, and made effective in each of us through the action of the Holy Spirit. St Paul tells us that “in one Spirit we have access through Christ to the Father” (Eph 2:18). But the God’s reaching down to us must be answered by the up-reach of our soul to God. To succeed in this we must break free from the sinful pursuits which hold us captive. Then as Paul says, like mirrors we will reflect the brightness of the Lord, until finally we are changed into that image which we reflect (2 Cor 3:17f). For this great promise, glory be to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, forever, Amen.
Fullness of Love
Our past century was largely dominated by three outstanding figures, Charles Darwin, Sigmund Freud and Karl Marx. Some have described them irreverently as “the unholy trinity.” They pushed us into the modem world, often in spite of our protests. Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution was greeted, particularly by the established churches, with howls of derision, and had to battle hard for recognition. Sigmund Freud opened up the universe of the unconscious and profoundly affected conventional attitudes. The socialist theories of Karl Marx came to dominate one half of the planet and considerably influenced the other. Of the three, only Darwin and his theory of evolution remain intact. Recent events in the Eastern Bloc have largely discredited Marx. The theories of Freud are more and more contested in recent times. Time has taken its toll of “the unholy trinity.”
The Holy Trinity, whose feast we celebrate today, is beyond the reach of time and the grasp of human reasoning. It is a mystery of our faith. We can only fumble in the dark in search of glimmers of light. “Two is company, three is a crowd” is a popular expression. The gospel would have it otherwise. There, the figure three symbolises completeness and perfect symmetry, and re-appears at all the key moments of the Christ story. His life itself constantly reflected the Trinity. Three figures make up the nativity scene in Bethlehem – the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Their first visitors were the three wise men. Later, in the desert preparing to begin his public life, Jesus was tempted three times by the devil. A good story should have a beginning, a middle and an end. Christ was a storyteller par excellence and three figures prominently in his parables. The Prodigal Son is about a father and his two sons; the Good Samaritan tells of the behaviour of three passers-by, the priest, the Levite and the Samaritan; the sower sowed his seed in three different types of terrain, yielding three different levels of harvest. The end of his life, as the beginning, has again the three motif. During his Passion, Peter denied him thrice. On the road to Calvary, he fell three times. The crucifixion scene has three figures, Christ between two thieves. Before his resurrection, he spent three days in the tomb.
God is love. There are Three Persons in the Trinity, the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit. Together they represent the fullness of love. The Father loves the Son, the Son loves the Father. The Holy Spirit is their love for each other. We are made in the image of a triune God. God the Father, who created us, his Son who saved us, and the Holy Spirit who continues to guide us. Our lives should reflect the Trinity. We should be always creative like the Father, compassionate like his Son, and dispose our talents in the service of others like the Holy Spirit.
First Reading: Book of Deuteronomy 4:32-34, 39-40
For ask now about former ages, long before your own, ever since the day that God created human beings on the earth; ask from one end of heaven to the other: has anything so great as this ever happened or has its like ever been heard of? Has any people ever heard the voice of a god speaking out of a fire, as you have heard, and lived? Or has any god ever attempted to go and take a nation for himself from the midst of another nation, by trials, by signs and wonders, by war, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, and by terrifying displays of power, as the Lord your God did for you in Egypt before your very eyes?
So acknowledge today and take to heart that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other. Keep his statutes and his commandments, which I am commanding you today for your own well-being and that of your descendants after you, so that you may long remain in the land that the Lord your God is giving you for all time.
Second Reading: Epistle to the Romans 8:14-17
For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ-if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.
Gospel: Matthew 28:16-20
Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”