A Homily for the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity
Sunday, June 4, 2023
Holy Ghost Church – 8:00 Mass
Exodus 34:4b-6, 8-9; Daniel 3:52, 53, 54, 55, 56; 2 Corinthians 13:11-13; John 3:16-18
Today is Trinity Sunday, the day when Mother Church asks us to contemplate what is perhaps the most difficult idea of our faith. My hope is that I will be able to help us all connect this central mystery of our faith with the most precious, practical and beloved tenant of our faith: that God is love.
An important idea for us to always remember is that God has REVEALED himself to us through scripture. For example, when God called Moses to go to Egypt to be his agent to liberate his people, he appeared to Moses in a burning bush and REVEALED his name to him. A name that was so sacred that no Jew dares to pronounce. A name that means I AM.
This is important because God REVEALS to Moses that he is not just a being who happens to be greater than all other beings. No, God IS BEING ITSELF. He is the great I AM. He is the One and Only absolutely absolute absolute.
We can not know anything of the profound mysteries of God unless he reveals them to us. This is certainly the case with the mystery of the Trinity. It is reality that is revealed, rather than being something we can discover on our own. We come to understand the Trinity only through the gift of faith. It is not something we can learn using the scientific method. It is revealed through Sacred Scripture and the teachings of the Church.
In today’s first reading Moses is encountering God on Mt. Sinai when he is given the Ten Commandments for the second time. Remember that the first tablets containing the commandments were smashed to pieces by Moses when he became outraged to see that the people were worshipping a golden calf when he came down the mountain with tablets.
In this encounter with God, God passes by Moses and speaks to him saying “The Lord, The Lord (I AM, I AM) a merciful and gracious God , slow to anger and rich in kindness.” Here God REVEALS that he – the nature of ultimate reality of the one who is being itself, the one who created everything that is, including space and time – has a personality. That his very nature is mercy, grace, slow-to-anger and rich in kindness. Wow!
So God gives Moses the Ten Commandments a second time after revealing to him his personality and his nature. And these commandments, this Law, is given as the definition of love: love of God and love of neighbor. The Law which describes love as adoring the one God and loving our neighbor as ourself.
This love is not just God’s will for us, it is God’s very nature. We are commanded to love because the very nature of him who is the ULTIMATE REALITY is love itself. To love is not only to conform our lives to this Law, it is to conform ourselves to his very nature.
In other words, to love is not only to be good, it is to be real. We have been made in the image and likeness of God, meaning we must love like God loves. We must adore him, be merciful like him, be kind like him and forgive like him.
In our second reading today, Paul tells us to rejoice, to mend our ways, to encourage one another, to agree with one another, to live in peace.
When we do this, the God of love and peace will be with us. In this letter to the Corinthians, God is again REVEALED as the God of love and peace. This is his nature; the nature of God himself, the ultimate reality of life.
And this brings us back to the Trinity. God is a Trinity of persons BECAUSE he is love. Love itself is trinitarian.
For love to happen there must be a lover, a beloved and a loving relationship between them. This is true in both the human and in the divine. Therefore, if God is love he must also be a Trinity of persons.
In the human realm we see this reality best in a sacramental marriage. The husband loves his wife, the wife loves her husband, and the two become one in the love that is shared between them.
In God the loving relationship of the Father and the Son is so real that it actually becomes a person, the Holy Spirit. For true love to exist there must be more than one person because love is self-giving. There must be not just a lover, but a beloved to whom the lover gives everything. This is the very nature of the Trinity.
Paul’s blessing found at the conclusion of today’s reading is a Trinitarian blessing. In this blessing, the same blessing we receive from the priest at the beginning of every Mass, the Trinity is REVEALED to us as love itself. You know it well: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.”
What’s the point of all this? The point for us all to remember is that we worship God not because his is the Boss and requires us to live up to his demands.
The primary reason we worship God is not because he is all powerful (which he is), all-wise (which he is), and all just (which he is). Scripture calls God these things, but it does not say that God IS power or wisdom or justice. Scripture does REVEAL, however, that God IS love.
This is how we know that the one God we worship is a Trinity of persons. Power, wisdom and justice simply do not have a threefold nature as love does: the lover, the beloved, and the loving between them.
Finally in today’s gospel reading, perhaps the single most beloved verse in the Bible, is John 3:16. “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.”
The ultimate demonstration of God’s love for us, for his creation, is that he gave his beloved Son to die for our salvation. This verse summarizes the whole Gospel and REVEALS once again God’s nature. Love is self-giving and gives itself away for the good of another. This is how we know that the Trinitarian God is love itself. He gave himself to us to die for us and rescue us from the power of sin and death.
We are a Trinitarian people. We worship a Trinitarian God, meaning a God who is love itself, whose very nature is love. This is why it is said by St. John of the Cross that “In the twilight of life, God will not judge us on our earthly possessions and human success, but rather on how much we have loved.” Love must be the basis for everything we do.
Let us remember this every time we make the sign of the cross. We belong to a Trinitarian God who is love itself and who loves us more than we can ever imagine.
Let us respond to his love by intentionally spending more time with him and asking him how we might accomplish his will in our day-to-day lives. Let us ask him to help us love him as he loves us.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.