So that all may be one

We have heard the words many times; so much so that we seldom really listen to them anymore. “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the holy Spirit be with you all.” And then these words pass by without much attention. “In the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit!

The Most Holy Trinity

Holy words. Sacred Words. Words rich in meaning, so profound, yet too often spoken or heard in absentia, so ingrained are they in our minds, we pay little heed to what it is we are saying or hearing.

And then there are those other things, bothersome notions, rekindling thoughts and memories of unpleasant times, unsavory and unwelcome bitterness toward a family member: perhaps a tyrannical parent, someone who demanded obedience without a simple touch of love, or one too distant or absent by their own admission. These memories reprise hurtful thoughts.

There are other reasons, to be sure, why some find it difficult to pray to the triune God. Times and cultures have imbued the

word “God” with many and varied meanings—remote, unfeeling, authoritarian, arbitrary, angry, demanding, caring, wise, peace, loving, vengeful, righteous, judgmental, father, mother, ruler, king, Lord—but for Christians, God is a community of persons, a family, three persons in one God, a relationship grounded in being one with the other. The doctrine of the Trinity affirms God as loving and all-knowing, generous in giving, welcome in receiving. We believe and profess every time we recite the Creed that God could not be God without the Father and the Son eternally bonded in their relationship through the Holy Spirit.

While some think of the Trinitarian doctrine as somehow a negotiable which may or may not be held to be true, it is at its core, the heart and soul of our faith. As Christians, if we lose faith in the triune God, we lose all we are. We cannot call ourselves Christians if we do not hold fast to the truth in the Trinity, that is God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

The God of Moses, “merciful and gracious, slow to anger, rich in kindness and fidelity,“ is thus shown through Saint Paul as the interpersonal Trinity that serves as a true model of human family relationships. Thus Paul prays, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Spirit be with you all.“

What we see in the Trinity reveals something very important for all family relationships. The relationship between Jesus and the Father is an intimate, self-giving relationship. Every joy, every pain, every tear, every feeling which the Son experienced was experienced by the Father and the Spirit.

This is often difficult for us to accept. It is a mystery beyond our understanding and yet we are called, as Catholics and as Christians to believe it without demurral. Gregory Nazianzen was a fourth century bishop who is credited for the final acceptance by the Council of Constantinople of the Nicene Creed. In what is called a poem, Gregory speaks clearly and eloquently of the Trinity.

To speak of the Godhead is, I know, like crossing the ocean on a raft, or like flying to the stars with winds of narrow span. Even heavenly beings are unable to speak of God’s decrees or of his government of the world.

But enlighten my mind and loosen my tongue, Spirit of God, and I will sound aloud the trumpet of truth, so that all who are united to God may rejoice with their whole heart.

There is one eternal God, uncaused and uncircumscribed by any being existing before him or yet to be. He is infinite, and all time is in his hands. He is the mighty Father of one might and noble Son. In no way does the birth of this Son resemble human birth, for God is spirit.

The Word of God is another divine Person, but not another Godhead. He is the living seal of the Father, the only son of the only God. He is equal to the Father, so that although the Father always remains wholly the Father, the Son is the creator and ruler of the world and is the Father’s power and wisdom.

Let us praise the Son first of all, venerating the blood that expiated our sins. He lost nothing of his divinity when he saved me, when like a good physician he stooped to my festering wounds.

He was a mortal man, but he was also God. He was of the race of David, but Adam’s creator. He who has no body clothed himself with flesh. He had a mother, but she was a virgin.

He who is without bounds bound himself with the cords of our humanity.

He was victim and high priest—yet he was God. He offered up his blood and cleansed the whole world. He was lifted up on the cross, but it was sin that was nailed to it. He became as one among the dead, but he rose from the dead, raising to life also many who had died before him.

On the one hand, there was the poverty of his humanity; on the other, the riches of his divinity. Do not let what is human in the Son permit you wrongfully to detract from what is divine. For the sake of the divine, hold in the greatest honor the humanity which the immortal Son took upon himself for love of you.

My soul, why do you hold back? Sing praise to the Holy Spirit as well, lest your words tear asunder what is not separated by nature. Let us tremble before the great Spirit who also is God, through whom we have come to know God, who transforms us into God.

He is the omnipotent bestower of diverse gifts and the giver of life both in heaven and on earth. He is the divine strength, proceeding from the Father and subject to no power. He is not the Son, for there is only one Son, but he shares equally in the glory of the Godhead.

In the one God are three pulsations that move the world. Through them I became a new and different person when I came out of the font, where my death was buried, into the light—a man restored to life from the dead. If God cleansed me so completely, then I must worship him with my whole being.1

Let us take a moment to honestly consider what it must have been for God himself to become himself incarnate. Imagine all that God must, out of his love for his creation, have given up to become man. Who among us would have so much love as to give up so much of who you are to become a flea or a worm or even a tree. So much more did God give to become man and walk among us.

As Paul wrote:

Do nothing from selfishness or conceit, but in humility count others better than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interest, but also to the interests of others. Have this in mind among yourselves, which was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. Therefore, God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.2

Think of how God made himself incarnate, was born of a human woman, who took the Lord to her breast and suckled him there. Think of all those who were so fortunate to have encountered God incarnate: the beloved Apostle John who reclined his head on the bosom of the Lord, the woman who washed his feet with her tears, the blind man whom Jesus wiped mud on his eyes so he could see. How would you have liked to be among those so favored by God’s human presence?

It is good that God became man and thus entered into human history. But all history is local, circumscribed by time and place. While God, the Father, Son, and Spirit exists outside of time, he is present then, now, and yet to come. We know that he is fully present with us now and forever, here and wherever we may go.

Amen.

Homily #126
Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity (A)
Exodus 34:4B-6, 8-9
2 Corinthians 13:11-13
John 3:16-18

 


1 Gregory Nazianzen, Poem 1-3: PG 37, 397-411.
2 Philippians 2:3-11.

Deacon Chuck

About the author: Deacon Chuck

Deacon Chuck was ordained into the permanent diaconate on September 17, 2011, in the ministry of service to the Diocese of Reno and assigned to St. Albert the Great Catholic Community. He currently serves as the parish bulletin editor and website administrator. Deacon Chuck continues to serve the parish of Saint Albert the Great Catholic Community of the Diocese of Reno, Nevada. He is the Director of Adult Faith Formation and Homebound Ministries for the parish, conducts frequent adult faith formation workshops, and is a regular homilist. He currently serves as the bulletin editor for the parish bulletin. He writes a weekly column intended to encompass a broad landscape of thoughts and ideas on matters of theology, faith, morals, teachings of the magisterium and the Catholic Church; they are meant to illuminate, illustrate, and catechize the readers and now number more than 230 articles. His latest endeavor is "Colloqui: A journal for restless minds", a weekly journal of about 8 pages similar in content to bulletin reflections. All his reflections, homilies, commentaries, and Colloqui are posted and can be found on his website: http://deaconscorner.org. Comments are always welcome and appreciated. He is the author of two books: "The Voices of God: hearing God in the silence" which offers the reader insights into how to hear God’s voice through all of the noise that surrounds us; and "Echoes of Love: Effervescent Memories" which through a combination of prose and verse provides the reader with a wonderful journey on the way to discovering forever love. He regularly speaks to groups of all ages and size and would welcome the opportunity to speak to your group.

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