Fr. Roger J. Landry
St. Francis Xavier Church, Hyannis, MA
Trinity Sunday, C, 2004
June 6, 2004
Prov 8:22-31; Rom 5:1-5; Jn 16:12-15
1) Today we celebrate the feast of who God is. Every Sunday is, in a very real sense, dedicated to God and therefore every Sunday really is Trinity Sunday. But since the 1300s, the Church has celebrated, on the Sunday immediately following Pentecost, a feast dedicated to the Holy Trinity, to help all of us focus more explicitly on who God is in his profound mysterious depths, and therefore who we’re called to be made in His image and likeness.
2) Over the course of human history, most people have believed in some form of God, some form of Creator, some form of supernatural agency in the world. God graced the Jews with the revelation that there was only one God, the Lord, and there was no other God but Him (cf. Deut 4:35). The Lord Jesus came down from heaven to reveal to us even further that true nature of God. Yes, there is only one God and there is no other, but that one God is a mystery of three persons in a communion of love, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. “God is love,” (1John 4:16) as St. John tells us, and therefore for God to be love, he couldn’t be solitary, because no one can love in a vacuum. For God to be love, there had to be someone else to love, and there had to be love between them. That reality gives us a glimpse into why God must be a Trinity. From all eternity God the Father loves the Son and the Son loves the Father and their eternal love is so powerful that it generates (or “spirates”) the Holy Spirit. God, who said in the beginning, not “Let me make man in my own image” but “Let US make man in OUR own image, according to our likeness” (Gen 1:26), created man male and female. They are called to live in a communion of persons in love in such a way that their mutual love can generate a third person, a child, who is a sign of their love and a means by which their love continually grows.
3) When we truly understand that God IS love, we can understand much better so many of the truths of the faith beyond the exalted reality of marriage.
a) We can first begin to grasp the mystery of CREATION. God created us in his image and likeness, and therefore, we were created in his love and given the vocation to live in that love and reflect that love. Because we were created in God’s image, we are by nature “very good” (Gen 1:31). Our first reading today from the Book of Proverbs reflects this reality of the goodness of creation and how we are called to live with God and rejoice in that gift: “I was beside [God] 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.” We are called to praise the Trinitiarian God for the gift of creation, because throughout the created world, we see footprints of God, who, as an Eternal Giver, gave all of creation as a gift to man.
b) We can understand better the mystery of our REDEMPTION, because after we had said no to God, no to love, God the Father so loved us that he sent His Son, the second person of the Blessed Trinity, to save us from that lack of love and to make it possible to live in that love again (John 3:16). The whole purpose of redemption was to restore us to that communion of love and life.
c) We can understand better the mystery of the SACRAMENTS, in which we receive God’s own life inside and are called to abide in God and God in us. Each is a means by which God inserts us ever more into the mystery of his own communion of love. As St. Paul wrote in the second reading today: “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.”
d) And this leads us as well to understand better the reality of HEAVEN. In heaven, we enter fully and finally into the communion of persons in love who is God, and in entering that communion, we enter into full communion with all God’s holy ones. This is what the communion of saints is, which we profess in the Creed. All those who have strived to abide in God’s love here on earth will, by God’s love and mercy, abide in it TOGETHER in heaven, in a love, the greatness of depth of which the human mind and heart can barely fathom. Heaven will be the unity of the kingdom of love for which our hearts deep-down-within yearn.
4) But we are called on this Sunday not just to understand better the mystery of who God is and its implications in our life, but begin more explicitly to LIVE this type of life. Our whole life is meant to be lived in communion with God. Much of it already is, although we often don’t recognize it. This whole Mass, for example, is lived in communion with the Trinity. We began this Mass in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. We will end it by receiving the blessing of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Everything we do and say during this Mass is nothing other than a dialogue between us and the Father, through the person of Jesus Christ, in the light and with the help of the Holy Spirit. In the middle of Mass, we loudly proclaim that we have grounded our lives in the mystery of the Trinity, uniting ourselves to the entire Church on earth, in heaven and in Purgatory as we say: “We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, the Creator of Heaven and earth… We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God… We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified.”
5) Like the Mass, our whole life is meant to begin and end in the name of the Blessed Trinity and be a profession of that faith. Our spiritual life begins when a minister of God makes us God’s child and a temple of His presence by baptizing us, “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” At the end of our life — as I just said to one of your fellow parishioners on Friday — a priest, in the prayers after the anointing, will say, “Depart from this life, Christian soul, in the name of God the Almighty Father who created you, in the name of Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, who suffered for you, in the name of the Holy Spirit, who descended over you.” Between these two extremes — birth and death — our whole earthly existence is meant to be lived explicitly within the life of the Blessed Trinity: in the name of the Trinity spouses are united in holy matrimony, as Jordan and Maryanne McInturf were yesterday in this Church; in the name of the Trinity, priests are ordained and consecrated for God’s service, as Father Jack Harrington was yesterday at St. Mary’s Cathedral; in the name of the Trinity, our sins are forgiven, as about thirty parishioners experienced yesterday in the parish confessionals. Our whole Christian existence develops in the company of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit: the three Persons are with us, the walk each step of life with us. But so often we do not recognize it. At the end of our life, sometimes we can have the experience of the disciples on the way to Emmaus, who had walked a long journey with Jesus without recognizing him.
6) If we are called to recognize and experience in our own lives the Trinitarian communion of life and love, we should ask how that life can be intensified. Jesus spoke about the divine indwelling often in Sacred Scripture, most famously in the parable of the Vine and the Branches. But he gave two very concrete things for us to do to live in the Trinity and allow Father, Son and Holy Spirit to live in us:
a) To keep his commandments, which are all commandments of love — Jesus said, “If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love” (John 15:10). Jesus lives in us through divine grace, but to remain in the state of grace, we have to keep his commandments of love.
b) To receive Jesus worthily in the Eucharist — Jesus said, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him” (John 6:56). In this great sacrament of the body and blood of the Lord, we receive the whole Christ — body, blood, soul and divinity — and therefore, we receive God’s own divine life within. Jesus’s divinity is inseparably united to the Father and the Holy Spirit, and hence we enter into communion with the Trinity through receiving Holy Communion. The better we prepare our body and soul to be a fitting temple of God, the better we clean out that temple through confession, the more we burn the oil of love in vigil for the Lord’s arrival, the more we rejoice when we receive him, the more refulgent will be the divine indwelling within us.
7) God who is love loved us so much that he wanted us to share in this love, not just in the next life but in this one. This Trinity Sunday is a chance for us to recognize, once again, that our earthly life will be fulfilling to the extent that we live in in union with God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He has created us in His image and likeness, and made us capable of experiencing his own divine life within. Today we thank Him for that gift and that calling, and ask him for all the help he knows we need so that our whole life might be a grateful response, saying, by words and deeds, “Glory be to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be.” Amen.