Sunday, June 04, 2023

The Trinity is the destination (Sunday homily)


So, if I could, I would be showing you a picture right now.

Instead, use your imagination:

You see an adult, with children walking behind; 

and they are all holding onto a rope, 

the end of which mom or dad is holding.

The reason, of course, is that it’s not easy for a parent – 

or a teacher or scout leader – to keep all the children close, 

and there are times that is really important. 

And the point I’m making is that in a similar way,

You and I need to keep clear the links between Easter and Pentecost 

and this feast of the Holy Trinity.

Today’s feast emphasizes the “point” of Jesus giving the Holy Spirit:

To bring us into the life of the Holy Trinity.

To put it another way: Jesus’ mission 

is to bring us into relationship with God. 

Today is when we talk about who that God is.

Some people will say, who cares if God is a Trinity?

I just believe in God, that’s all that is needed.

OK. But you know, the Romans said Julius Caesar was a god.

Is that your god? Not my god.

And if God himself says, let me tell you who I am, 

wouldn’t it rude to respond: “Oh I don’t care!”

The reason we say God is a Trinity is because Jesus told us this.

Let me add another reason why clarity matters.

I have a friend who I hadn’t seen for many years; 

and we got talking and he caught me up. 

He’d gotten married, and it turned out, his wife was Muslim. 

Then he told me, he became a Muslim; he renounced Jesus!

And he tried to say, oh, it’s all the same.

No disrespect to our Muslim neighbors, but it’s not.

Muslims would be the first to tell you that.  

Islam does not accept that Jesus is God, the Son of the Father, 

and that the Father, through the Son, gives us the Holy Spirit. 

For other religions, the idea of a relationship with God makes no sense, 

because they don’t believe God is relatable; because he’s not personal.

That’s essential to what the word “person” means: 

capable of relating in a full way.

So I mention that friend, because I was left wondering, 

how had he not understood the significance 

of going from Christian to Muslim?

You see, this is not a peripheral thing; 

this goes to the heart of Christianity:

God is a relationship of Persons – Father, Son and Holy Spirit –

The whole point is to bring us into that relationship. That Life.

Of course, we might respond, how can I “relate” to God?

The answer is, without God’s help, without grace, it is impossible;

any more than a gnat or a bacteria germ can relate to you or me.

So, again, this is the point:

God descends, down, down, down, way, way down, to our level.

But not to say hi and leave; but to take us with him, back …

Up, up, up, in, deeper, deeper, all the way in to the heart of God!

Saint Paul said, “eye has not seen, ear has not heard,” 

what God has planned for us. So of course, yes, it boggles us.

I say again, this is what Jesus told us.

He came to show us the Father. He and the Father are one.

The Father gives us – through Jesus – the Holy Spirit.

He came, as he said, to give us life; 

not the life of an amoeba or bird, but the Life of God. 

He says: I am the Vine, you are the branches.

The vine and branches don’t have two radically different forms of life; 

they share the very same life, which passes between them.

So, short answer: why do we believe God is a Trinity?

Because Jesus, who proved himself to be truthful, told us so.

And also: that Trinitarian life is the destination Jesus is leading us to. 

1 comment:

rcg said...

Christ told us he had to ascend to the Father so they could send forth the Holy Spirit. I wonder if that was done to show us the third Person independently, yet one in essence, etc.