Live-Streamed and Televised Mass (Coronavirus Crisis)
Cathedral of Mary Our Queen
June 7, 2020
How the Trinity Reorients Our Lives
In the midst of pandemic, injustice, and unrest, we celebrate Trinity Sunday. It is a day when we focus on the most fundamental teaching of the Christian faith, namely, that there is only One God and that God is a Trinity of Persons, God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Trinity is not myth, a riddle, or an insoluble mathematical puzzle. We know of the mystery of the Trinity only because God has granted us, so to speak, a window into his inner life. Even so, we could never pretend to grasp this mystery in its fullness. After writing a brilliant treatise on the Trinity, St. Augustine concluded it by saying: “Among the many things I have said, I am sure and I declare that I have said nothing that is worthy of this supreme, ineffable Trinity” (On the Trinity, I; XV). Augustine’s words are an admonition to every Trinity Sunday homilist, including me. Let me just say that, with all my heart, I believe in the Most Holy Trinity. I have staked my life and pinned my hopes on the living and true God, the One God in Three Persons. It is my fervent prayer that, in God’s grace, you can make the same profession of faith.
By professing our faith in a God who exceeds everything we could imagine, we resist the temptation to create for ourselves a god designed to meet our needs, a god who is a mere projection of our desires for a better life and a better world. This Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity is preeminently that day when we, fallible and sinful creatures of flesh and blood . . . let God be God . . . when, despite the dimness of our vision, we bow before the God who made us: “For he is [indeed] our God and we are his people, the flock he shepherds” (Ps. 95:7). Entrusting ourselves to God, let us find in the depths of the Most Holy Trinity, how we are to reorient our lives, especially in this time of upheaval, including our personal lives, the life of our Church, and the life of society. In a time of bitter division, let us seek unity in the oneness of God’s inner life. In a time when the hostility of racism is again laid bare, let us learn respect and love in the distinctness and relatedness of the Three Persons of the Trinity.
The Unity of God’s Inner Life
So, as we peer by faith into the unity of God’s inner life, let us be amazed and grateful. For the inward life of God is “an eternal exchange of love the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit” (CCC № 221); in a word “God is love” (1 Jn. 4:16). The Father is the lover; the Son is the beloved; the Holy Spirit is their bond of love. Each person fully shares the divine nature – and how beautiful it is that the God of glory and majesty, the God of power and might, is a unity of love. In freely deciding to create us and redeem us, God, a Trinity of Persons, acted in complete and total unity of purpose. With overflowing love and mercy, God wanted to share his inner life and love with us.
Thus was it proclaimed in today’s Gospel: “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that everyone who believes in him might not perish but have eternal life.” Let us think of it: God the Father gave us everything he had – his only Son – because he did not want us to perish in our sins; because he wanted to save us. God sent us the Holy Spirit so that the redeeming love of Jesus would take root in us, transform our lives, change us from the inside out, and unite us as witnesses of his saving truth and love. How often Jesus spoke of his intense unity with his heavenly Father and he manifested that unity, by spending countless nights in prayer; by preaching the Word of the Father; by doing the works of God, that is, his miracles; and ultimately, by laying down his life for us in obedience to his Father’s saving will. Risen from the dead, the Lord Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit upon us so that we might share in his exchange of love with the heavenly Father. In a word, the Trinity of Persons call us to share in their intense unity of love and to be messengers and instruments of that unity in the world today.
What good news for a world that finds itself bitterly divided! And divided we are, by race and culture; by wealth and poverty; and by access to educational opportunity and health care, and lack thereof. We are alienated from one another by ideologies and by a raging war of words. The God who is an everlasting exchange of love, utterly united in self-giving love, calls on you and me to be ambassadors in the midst of a world torn asunder: ambassadors of truth, love and unity; ministers of justice, peace, and charity; disciples who are not only hearers of God’s Word but also doers of his Word. What’s more, the One God in Three Persons calls on the Church to model for society how to believe, pray, live, and work together in a unity mind and heart that reflects his own Triune life. This is why the II Vatican Council challenged the Church to manifest itself as ‘a people called into unity from the unity of the Father, the Son, & the Holy Spirit’ (LG, 4). So, it turns out that Trinity Sunday is not an exercise in dry speculation about God, but rather an urgent summons from the One God in Three Persons to “mend [our] ways, encourage one another, agree with one another, & live in peace…” Thus will the God of love and peace dwell within us and among us! [cf. 2 Cor. 13:11). Make us, Lord, instruments of your unity and peace, both in the Church and society.
The Distinctness and Relatedness of the Persons of the Trinity
Let us now spend a moment, dear friends, prayerfully considering the distinctness and relatedness of the Persons of the Most Blessed Trinity… The one and only God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God the Father is not God the Son but begets the Son from all eternity. God the Son is not God the Father but is eternally begotten by the Father. God the Holy Spirit is neither the Father nor the Son but is the reciprocal bond of love between them. (cf. Jn. Hardon, Modern Catholic Dictionary, p. 548; J. Danielou, Christ and Us, p. 52) Now, that may indeed sound very dry and abstract, but it is not. The point is that the Persons of the Trinity are indeed distinct but related. The Father and the Son are not the same yet they share in a fellowship of love, a fellowship of love so real that is the Person of the Holy Spirit (cf. 2 Cor. 13:13).
The distinctness and relatedness of the Persons of the Trinity are also in fact an urgent summons from the heart of God to love and respect as equals those whose skin color, language, nationality, politics, and culture differ from our own. The One God who is a Trinity of Persons calls us to renounce the sin and heresy of racism in all its forms, and with God’s grace, to eliminate it from our hearts, our homes, our Church, our society, and our systems. We are summoned again today to recognize and respect our differences while relating to one another as brothers and sisters, as friends, and as families, who stand with one another in a solidarity of human dignity. Far too often, we have failed to heed this summons and those failures can be heard in the protests that now echo on our streets.
On this Sunday when we celebrate God’s Oneness in a Trinity of Persons, let us heed the prophetic words of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: “Time is cluttered with the wreckage of broken communities which have surrendered to hatred and violence. For the salvation of our nation and the salvation of mankind, we must follow another way. This does not mean we abandon our righteous efforts… but we shall not, in the process, relinquish our privilege and obligation to love… This is the only way to create beloved communities.” May “the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you” (2 Cor. 13:13).