Sunday, May 26, 2024

Trinity Sunday

We began this Mass in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. All of us who have been baptized were baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. On that occasion, our parents and godparents – or we ourselves - made a profession of faith in the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Our sins have been forgiven in Confession, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Those of us who are married have exchanged wedding rings in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. And we have all repeatedly been blessed (and blessed ourselves) in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. In short, our entire lives, both as individuals and as a Church community, have been defined, formed, shaped by this awesome Trinitarian mystery of who God is, that defines God’s ongoing relationship with us and ours with God.

The doctrine of the Trinity is our uniquely Christian insight into who God is, our specifically Christian way of speaking about God, expressing what God has revealed about himself to us in Jesus his son through the activity of the Holy Spirit.  As human beings, created in God’s image and likeness, we all have a built-in, natural, longing for God. That God exists is something we can experience naturally.  We can reason our way, so to speak, to the existence of God as our Creator. But that is all we can reason our way to. The rest is revelation. Who God is - who God is in himself - is something we could never completely come to know on our own.  That had to be revealed to us by God himself, by God revealing himself to us in words and actions human history. And God has done so, revealing who he is in himself – one God in three distinct Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, three divine persons acting together externally in a way that reflect God’s inner trinitarian life, the Father acting through the Son in the Holy Spirit. In that inner trinitarian life, the three Persons are perpetually present to each other and inconceivable without each other. Externally, God has revealed in the incarnate Son, who has a visible face and has acted in human history, while the faceless Holy Spirit is known by the effects which we experience. 

So, on the one hand, the doctrine of the Trinity expresses our uniquely Christian insight into the ultimately incomprehensible inner life of God – where the Son is the image of the Father, the Father’s likeness and outward expression, who perfectly reflects his Father, while the Holy Spirit in turn expresses and reveals the mutual love of Father and Son. Each of the three Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is truly God, each distinctly God, but existing eternally in relationship to each other: the Father to the Son, the Son to the Father, the Holy Spirit to both. The very names Father, Son, Holy Spirit are relational names. By analogy, the titles “husband” and “wife” are names that are only understandable in terms of the relationships they signify.

At the same time, the Trinity also expresses something fundamental about how God acts outside himself, how he acts toward us. Who God is in himself is how God acts. How God acts in human history reveals who God ultimately is. Already in the Old Testament, God was revealing himself – as Moses testified in today’s first reading - as one who repeatedly reveals himself in how he acts toward us.

It is, of course, the Son, consubstantial with the Father, who for our salvation came down from heaven, and who, seated at the right hand of the Father, has sent the Holy Spirit upon his Church, making her the Body of Christ and the Temple of the Holy Spirit. Led by the Holy Spirit – as Saint Paul told the Christians in Rome and through them tells us - we become true sons and daughters of God the Father and joint heirs with Christ.

The Holy Spirit unites us with the Father in the Body of Christ, the Church. Through the sacraments, Christ continues to communicate the Holy Spirit to the members of his Church. Thus, at Mass the Church petitions the Father to send the Holy Spirit to sanctify the bread and wine that they may become the body and blood of Christ and that, filled with the same Holy Spirit, we who receive Christ’s body and blood may then be transformed into one body in Christ, participants in the mission of his Church.

That mission is nothing less than to make disciples of all nations - in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Homily for Trinity Sunday, Saint Paul the Apostle Church, NY, May 26, 2024.














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