Bishop Michael Kennedy Homily on the Solemnty of the Holy Trinity Year A 2017
Today we celebrate the central and most profound mystery of our Christian faith: The Most Holy Trinity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, three divine persons in one God; each person fully God yet all together one God. We call it a mystery because we can’t fully understand or comprehend it, it is beyond the ability of our human reason to grasp it. We call it a mystery because the Trinity is something we could never work out or know unless God himself revealed it to us.
And we profess this central mystery of our faith many times every day - when we make the sign of the cross. Have you ever noticed that we bless ourselves in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, not in their names? Even though names would be more grammatically correct, when we bless ourselves we are not professing our faith in good grammar, but our faith in the One True God!
It is our belief in the Trinity that really sets us apart from the other major monotheistic religions. Christians, Muslims, and Jews; we all believe in one and the same God, but only Christians accept that this God is a trinity or communion of three persons – not just one person. For them, God is primarily the creator and judge. But the truth about God, revealed in the Trinity, is that God is primarily LOVE.
In his encyclical “God is Love”, Pope Emeritus Benedict explains it like this: Love is what unites us to each other; it is love that unites me to those I love. It is love that moves a person to board a boat, train or aeroplane and travel across the country or half way around the world to be with one they love. Love moves us and unites us. Love is also what unites God to those who he loves – us! Love is what moved the Son to come to us in Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit to come and dwell in our hearts. Before we or any creature ever existed, God existed and he was still love. So, who did he love? There must have been eternal “others” for God to love. Only if God was more than one person would there be mutual love, and only if there were three persons could this love be perfect, fruitful love. For love between two persons is not closed in on itself but opens to embrace another or others. This is what we see in a family when the love between husband and wife opens to embrace children. So Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, loving one another from all eternity with perfect, fruitful, love. This is who God is.
Today’s Readings are not explicitly Trinitarian but they do speak of the God who is LOVE, who turns his face toward us in love inviting us into communion with him. The First Reading from Exodus follows the apostasy of the people in worshiping the golden calf. God’s response was not to turn away in anger from those who had betrayed him, but to reveal himself to them as the “God of tenderness and compassion, slow to anger, rich in kindness and faithfulness”.
In the Gospel Reading from Saint John, Jesus reveals that “God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, … so that through him the world might be saved”. God now sends his Son, the Word made flesh so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life and enter into communion with him.
The Second Reading from Saint Paul encourages us to live the same relationship of love with each other that exists in the Trinity: “Brothers, try to grow perfect; help one another. Be united; live in peace and the God of love and peace will be with you.”
Faith in the Trinity is central to our life as Christians. Made in the image and likeness of God who is a loving communion of three divine persons, we too are made for loving communion with others: loving communion with God, the three divine persons, and loving communion with one another. So, living our Trinitarian faith means a life of loving solidarity between and among persons. The person who loves does not just sit on their couch reflecting in his heart that he loves everybody and bears nobody ill will. True love moves us off our couch to go to those who need our help and unites us to them in solidarity. This is what Pope Francis keeps reminding us every opportunity he has.
We are not the creations of a distant God, but of a personal God who is Love. Today, we accept his invitation to enter into communion with him by imitating his love. I suggest that today is also a fitting day for us to bring to God in prayer those people we know who find it difficult to believe in God’s love. For the whole world takes on a new and better colour when we know we are loved by God.