Trinity Sunday (May 27, 2018)

Last Sunday, the church marked the end of the celebration of Easter, with the celebration of Pentecost - the celebration of the birthday of the Church. The Church uses the next two Sundays to reflect on two of the most important ways God continues to share: today, who God is; next Sunday, the gift of God’s presence in his Body and Blood.

We know that there is one God - God revealed himself to the Jews. But, Jesus revealed that it is not as simple as that: God is not simply one; he is somehow three. Jesus never said, listen up, guys, today I want to tell you about the Trinity. He never used the word. He did say:

  • “The Father and I are one.”
  • He talked about sending “the Spirit.”
  • In today’s Gospel, we heard Jesus’ command to baptize in the name of “the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
Two different groups heard those words and tried to figure them out: Jews, who were the staunchest of monotheists, were not an analytic people. Some were concerned only that Jesus made himself equal to god by speaking of his father - and blasphemously saying that he and the father were one. Therefore, the Jewish solution was rejection of Jesus. They were more interested in obeying the law than listening to god.

Greeks who were analytic [and you and I are cultural descendants of the Greeks], the question arose among Greek Christians of how to handle this father - son - spirit “stuff.” Did you know that the Trinity was not a clear Christian teaching until the 4th century?

So, there is one God, but there is not aloneness in God. There is a loving community within God. There are, as it were, three aspects of God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, which we call “the Trinity.”

The Trinity, a non-scriptural word that is a figure of speech, is an effort to speak of the variety of our experience of God as family relationships: father and son. By its very nature, love gives. Love, in the threeness of God, gives. God gives to us both jointly and individually. The church “appropriates”:

  • To the Father - the work of creation
  • To the Son - the work of redemption and the revelation of God’s love.
  • To the Holy Spirit - the work of sanctification
The catechism told us correctly that we are made in God’s image and likeness. So, community/relationship is central to human life as well. Loving is at the very heart of being human and becoming divine. If we are made in the image and likeness of God, then we are capable of being God-like in our giving to others, too.

What does the feast of the Holy Trinity have to say to us? It tells us about: Being creative - like the Father. Coming up with creative solutions to our own and others’ difficulties. It challenges us to be creative in our lives.

Being redemptive - like the Son. Each of us has individual talents that empower us, like Jesus, to free others from bondage, to free others from loneliness, to free a neighbor or relative from need.

Being a sanctifier - that is tricky, because there is only one sanctifier, the Holy Spirit. One of the easiest forgotten truths of our faith is that we can make neither ourselves nor others holy. So, what is our part in sanctification? We can help sanctify:

  • By removing obstacles that block the work of the spirit who alone sanctifies;
  • By being flexible and re-arranging work-schedules so that a spouse can more easily get to Mass;
  • By resisting peer pressure and stepping up for our need to worship our loving, Trinitarian God;
  • By refusing social gatherings that impact our worship of God.
  • We can protect our children from invasive, weekend sports schedules;
  • We can protect our families by overseeing their TV entertainment and computer use. By driving to mass our neighbors’ children who might not otherwise be able to go.
  • By encouraging someone whose faith is getting blurry by being present as a catholic Christian friend.
The Trinity is not only “mystery;” it is also agenda; it is not only a home, but also our destiny.

Many of these things we already do; others we may need to think about and work on - in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit