FR. TOM'S HOMILY FOR THE SOLEMNITY OF THE MOST HOLY TRINITY, June 7, 2020:
“God in three persons, Blessed Trinity!” We know those words from the great Trinitarian hymn Holy, Holy, Holy and they name the mystery of today’s feast. We celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity – this great reality of faith that both draws us into the wonder of God’s nature and confuses us a bit when we try and understand or explain it with the mind. I was never very good at math, but it’s only in the Church that with the Trinity 1 + 1 + 1 still equals 1. Three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, yet still one God.
Our trouble with the Trinity comes when we try to dissect exactly what it means; when we try and come up with precise explanations of how something can be both three and one at the same time. And yet, we still try, don’t we? Most famously, St. Patrick gave the explanation of the Trinity using the image of the shamrock – three leafs, but still just one shamrock. We can spend a long time with furrowed brows trying to wrap our minds around this. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says this, “The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is the mystery of God in Himself.” Now this statement, I think, helps us begin to get some place helpful. The Trinity is the mystery of God in Himself. Or in more simpler terms, understanding the Trinity tells us something about the very nature of God.
Our Scriptures today give us some helpful insight. In our first reading from Exodus, Moses encounters God who is described as “merciful and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity.” St. Paul gives us one of the Trinitarian prayers that begins each Mass when he says, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.” In just those two brief passages we encounter a God who is merciful, gracious, kind, faithful, loving and who desires fellowship with us.
St. John gives us the ultimate insight into who this God in Three Persons is. In one of the most famous passages of Scripture, St. John writes, “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son.” You know, you won’t find the word “trinity” anywhere in the Bible, but the nature of God in Three Persons – Father, Son, and Spirit – is everywhere. Over and over, we are given examples of this God who so loved the world – who so loved you, and me, and every living being – that He gave His only Son so that we might live forever. Love is the nature of God. Love is the nature of the Trinity. And love is what our God in Three Persons invites each one of us to share.
Sacred Scripture reminds us that we are all made in the image and likeness of our God. So, the more we understand God the more we understand ourselves. And this message could not be more important than it is right now. As our world continues to try and lift itself from under the weight of the coronavirus, for example, we have seen countless and moving heroic acts of love in the words and actions of the many, many women and men on the front lines of this pandemic, caring for and comforting those effected by virus. God who so loved the world works in them and through them to share that same love to those suffering through this crisis. When we embrace that love that comes from the very nature of God, our God in Three Persons becomes God in Many Persons – God in you and me and in anyone who responds to the challenges of our world with love.
As people march in the streets of virtually every city and town coast to coast for the cause of equality; as women and men of every race, color, and creed stand up for the unjust treatment of George Floyd, Breona Taylor, and so many others named and unnamed who have innocently suffered at the hands of others for no reason other than the color of their skin; as people stand up and speak out for an end to racism and violence and prejudice; we need to remember the image and likeness that we are meant to reflect to the world. I have been so moved by the thousands of people across our country who, in their chants of “black lives matter,” and “I can’t breathe,” are giving witness to God’s love. They give witness to the reality that in God sight, in God’s love, there is no place for racism, no place for prejudice, no place for the hatred and violence that have too long been a part of our nation’s story.
Understanding the Trinity tells us that God is not only in Three Persons, but God is in many persons because He is in you and in me and everyone who is part of the beautiful world that He created. God is not a loner who exists in solitary individualism, distant and detached from us. God exists in a community of love and sharing – in His very nature He is a Father, loving a Son, loving the Holy Spirit with a love so great that it can’t be contained and spills out into the world – to you and to me. In God’s most inner reality, He is a relationship of love. And our world needs to be overwhelmed with that love today more than ever. Only God’s love can route out what ails us in our hearts, in our homes, and in our communities.
Racism, violence, and prejudice are a corruption of that divine image. We are called to reflect that community of love to everyone – especially those on the margins of our society; especially those the rest of the world doesn’t see; especially those who are treated as less than worthy of the same love. The believer who reflects God’s love doesn’t divert our attention from the violence we see; doesn’t make excuses for the systemic racism that is our heritage; but instead with every fiber of their being tries to love the world to health, equality, justice, healing, and holiness. God in Many Persons.
God so loved the world that we too might love the world in return. My friends, let us call upon our God in Three Persons and ask Him to once again be God in Many Persons – in you and in me and in everyone – this day and ask Him to overwhelm any hatred, or racism, or prejudice in our hearts with His love. The great Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” The Trinity is the mystery of God in Himself; and God in us. Let us be encompassed by that mystery of love and light so that we might reflect God’s love, healing, justice, and peace to the whole world.
May the Lord give you peace.
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