26 May 2013. The Most Holy Trinity
First Reading: Proverbs 8:22-31
The Lord created me at the beginning of his work, the first of his acts of long ago.
Ages ago I was set up, at the first, before the beginning of the earth.
When there were no depths I was brought forth, when there were no springs abounding with water.
Before the mountains had been shaped, before the hills, I was brought forth –
when he had not yet made earth and fields, or he world’s first bits of soil.
When he established the heavens, I was there, when he drew a circle on the face of the deep,
when he made firm the skies above, when he established the fountains of the deep,
when he assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters might not transgress his command, when he marked out the foundations of the earth,
then I was beside him, like a master worker; and I was daily his delight, rejoicing before him always,
rejoicing in his inhabited world and delighting in the human race.
Second Reading: Romans 5:1-5
Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.
Gospel: John 16:12-15
“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.”
Not such 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.
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 asks. And loud and clear they answered, “God is he who made us.”
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.
The Fullness of Love
The last 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.