Body & Blood (8th Sunday in Easter) – June 12, 2022
One day, in children’s liturgy, the teacher told the children the story of Adam and Eve. After the story, the teacher asked the children to draw a picture that would illustrate the story. Bobby was very excited about the project and drew a picture of a red car with three people in it.
In the front seat, behind the wheel was an old man and in the back seat was a young man and a young woman.
The teacher was puzzled when she looked at the picture and asked Bobby, “Could you explain your picture to the rest of the class?”
“Why sure,” replied Bobby. “You see the man in the front seat?”
“Yes I do,” replied the teacher.
“Well that’s God, driving Adam and Eve out of the garden.”
Although Bobby might not have known it, that picture could also have been a way to depict the Christian understanding of the Holy Trinity —-God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit —- all three persons of the One Godhead working together, acting together, moving together and yet, also being distinct persons in their own right.
Because God is called Father, we, like Bobby, may imagine the Father to look like an old man. And because Jesus died in his early 30s we often imagine Jesus to be young man. And because the Holy Spirit is often portrayed as the embodiment of love, we often envision the Holy Spirit as a woman. Theses images of the Godhead, however, are all inadequate, because God can’t be limited by gender. God is beyond gender, beyond space and time, beyond any of the restrictions that our limited, human minds place on God, in order for us to comprehend, even just a little, of what God’s nature is like.
And yet, that doesn’t stop God. God, as the Holy Trinity, could have remained forever mysterious and obscure to us mere mortals.
Yet, God didn’t want to remain aloft and removed from our ordinary lives. It’s in the very nature of God to be self-revealing. It’s in the very nature of God to give and to receive love, too. And so, it’s out of love that the Triune God reaches out to us, to give us hints of God’s awesome beauty, power, grandeur, and magnificence. When we come into contact with that divine love, we can catch glimpses of what God is: for love is patient and kind, humble and does not put on heirs, never rude, not prone to anger, nor self-seeking, keeping no record of wrongs. (1 Corinthians 13: 4-6) God’s love is peaceful and forgiving too, faithful to the end and acting with justice.
We, as persons who seek to honor the Holy Trinity, must also be self-revealing in the love we express toward others. The Trinity urges Christians not to be solitary individuals, isolated from others, and going our own way, relentlessly seeking our own advantage over the needs and cares of others. The Trinity challenges us to overcome our shyness and timidity, and to overcome our fear of being rejected by others to whom we’re called to offer our love. We’re urged to reach out in love to all human beings who are made in the image and likeness of God, and to witness to the character traits that God, himself, expressed in his love for us all.
God, as a trinity of persons, only acts in a collaborative way, and never in isolation to the other persons of the Godhead. God the Father acts only in unison with the Son and the Spirit; God the Son only acts in unison with the Father and the Spirit. God the Holy Spirit only acts in unison with the Father and the Son. As one God, their wills become one, and so, all the actions of God are the result of all three Persons of the Trinity fully participating and willing them to be. As so, we can say that Jesus, who died on the cross for us, didn’t sacrifice his life on his own, but with the complete participation and willing of the Father and the Spirit cooperating in that redemptive act, which won for us, our salvation.
We don’t have to understand it fully for it to be true, for God’s divine love fails to limit itself to human categories of acceptability and comprehension. That’s part of the mystery that we, as human beings, are invited to embrace.
The Holy Trinity additionally asks us to be collaborators with one another in extending the Kingdom of God to the whole world. We need to avoid the temptation of building our own personal kingdoms and becoming complacent or smug in our own little worlds. We also need to avoid the temptation of thinking that we can fix the world, the church, or our families, all on our own.
Our Triune God also insists we resist the urge to stagnate, and to relying on our past laurels, distinctions or achievements. Instead, we’re challenged to grow and try new things, to work together and to risk failure together, even if it may be a hard pill to swallow, at times. No one relishes the prospect of yet another meeting or committee assignment to endure, or of sharing responsibilities that we know we could handle well enough, on our own. No one relishes the suffering and hardships that may come our way, either. But if we want to honor the action of the Holy Trinity, we must, as St. Paul’s letter to the Romans says, “boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope. And hope doesn’t disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” (Rom 5: 3-5)
The Holy Trinity also reveals the inner dynamism, generosity, and truth found in God alone. The Trinity is always in-action, always out-pouring, always a herald of the truth about Godself and the nature of the universe. This in-action dimension of God’s nature challenges us today to be activists for our environment and in stewardship of our plant a co-creators, meant to respect and cherish life in all its forms. It calls us to protect the delicate ecology and biomes of various parts of our world and to ensure that they are passed down and preserved for succeeding generations.
As an outpouring of God’s love, the Trinity further challenges us to be activists in fighting poverty in all its forms and to ending preventable suffering, worldwide. It calls us to promote peace, first in our own hearts, then in our families, our church, our nation and our world. Whenever we feel uncomfortable after hearing the Gospel proclaimed, that uneasiness is the Triune God provoking us to action, in some way.
The Trinity further harkens us to have generous spirits, who are willing to give of our talent, our time and our treasure to make this world a little more, like the kingdom of God. For when we give of ourselves, we honor the Trinity who continually gives to us the gift of life, the gift of love, the gift of faith, the gift of hope, the gift of salvation.
The Holy Trinity lastly calls us to act on behalf of the truth and to speak the truth without compromise. How do we know the truth? We know it through the revelation of Scripture and Tradition when they are interpreted, in a reliable manner, by the magisterial authority of the church, which is comprised of the bishops, united with the pope, in proclaiming the truth about faith and morals. We know the truth too, through the things, God has created. Science cannot contradict faith. If they come into conflict, they need to enter into dialogue to find the truth that God wants to reveal to us. In so doing, they will be able to offer a more complete picture of the mind of God, who is the Creator of all things. On this Solemnity of the Holy Trinity, then, let us resolve to embrace what the Holy Trinity has revealed to us about our place and our mission in the world and to give thanks for God’s loving presence in and among us. We ask this in the Name of the Father + and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
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