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Sunday, 19 June 2011

Trinity Sunday (A),
(Exodus 34:4-6, 8-9; 2 Corinthians 13:11-13; John 3:16-18)

The doctrine of the Holy Trinity is the ultimate and defining mystery of the Christian faith, but has sometimes been liturgically constructed, expressed and appreciated as something not only beyond our understanding but also far from plucking our heart strings with repeated variations of one in three and three in one, unity in trinity and trinity in unity, and even ‘una Unitas’, one Unity (!), with the overall result sounding something like a mathematical extravaganza or a collection of cold, abstract, concepts.
And yet, as our readings today illustrate, the Holy Trinity, though most certainly the supreme mystery of Christian faith, is not far from our human make-up and personal heart.
God created all things by His Word St. John tells us in his Gospel:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.   He was in the beginning with God.   All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.  (1:1-3)
“In the beginning was the Word”; what is a word?
Commonly, it is understood to be an expression of intelligence using breath: when we communicate with a word we express our thought by using the breath of our mouth, and in the Psalms we are told:
By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth. (33: 6)
This led St. Irenaus, when writing his famous work "Against Heresies" around the year A.D. 180, to say: "God has created the world with His two hands, the Son and the Spirit" ... His Word, and the Breath of His mouth.  And when it comes to the creation of human kind there is a vibrancy which is far, far removed from dry mathematics and abstract conceptions, for there the Son -- the Word -- gives form and structure to God's creation, while the Spirit -- the Breath of God -- gives life and vitality:
God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness."  And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.  (Genesis 1:26; 2:7)
And that background impression of personal and loving involvement on the part of the mysterious God of Israel creating by the breath of His mouth, with His two hands, so to speak, is now maintained and indeed intensified in His loving commitment to saving Israel according to an ancient tradition concerning the Prophet Moses as recounted in our first reading:
The LORD descended in the cloud and stood with him (Moses) there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD.   And the LORD passed before him (Moses) and proclaimed, "The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth.   (Exodus 34:5-6)
In the New Testament St. John never tires of telling us that God is love, and He demonstrates His love for us most sublimely through the gift of His Son as we have just heard in the Gospel reading:
God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
While St. Paul, the Doctor of us Gentiles, proclaims that same truth to our Western world when comforting his converts at Corinth, as your heard the second reading, by reminding them of the fellowship of the Holy Spirit:     
Brethren, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
Dear Brother and Sisters in Christ, the Holy Trinity is not some abstract concept but a Personal Reality mirrored at the very centre of our being, a Reality that is capable of fulfilling us and, indeed, transfiguring us by drawing us into sharing the glory of Its plenitude of Personal Love and mutual Commitment.
Let us now, therefore, give our minds and hearts to a short appreciative overview, so to speak, of this sublime mystery of God which can only be adequately expressed in terms of love, as manifested and experienced throughout our human history. 
The devil deceived Eve, and Adam had followed Eve into sin, and the world -- created for the glory of God and the joyful well-being of mankind and creation as a whole – became deformed, with humankind – creation’s crown and glory -- being subjected to suffering and death, ignorance and selfishness.  
God the Father, out of love, sent His Son to become a sinless man in a world where suffering, sin, and death, held sway throughout its structures and in all practices in order to save mankind, so dear to God: and taking human flesh from the pure and sinless Virgin Mary, the eternal Son of God became Jesus, the Son of man.  He spent His sinless life proclaiming saving Truth and witnessing to divine Love: setting at nought the devil's snares, thwarting his power, exposing his deceits and lies, until the contest reached its ultimate and inevitable climax in the suffering and death of the Pure and Holy One on Calvary, in the fulfilment of which divine love definitively triumphed over Satan’s power and the world’s sin, when Jesus the Son of man rose from death into heavenly glory. 
Then there began a re-creation of mankind in the Son by the Spirit of Holiness, the two hands of God the Father, moulding us anew as in the beginning, though this time not without our consent and co-operation: His Love would heal and renew each and every one of us if we would embrace His Good News of salvation.  God the Father would thus make, in the Son and by the Spirit, a new creation: a saved humanity, which, in its turn, would itself learn to triumph over the devil who once had brought it low.
God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 
The new creation would, as I said, be formed in Jesus; formed from those who would believe in the name of God's only Son and, committing themselves to Him through faith and baptism, would, in loving obedience, follow the lead of His Holy Spirit bestowed at Pentecost to guide His Body, the Church, to follow where her Head had already ascended.
People of God, let us here recognize the true nature of love; for God’s love does not just do things for us, it leads Him primarily to make something of us.  It is true that He does for us what we could not do for ourselves: He saves us from sin.  Then, however, He goes on to make something of us and do something with us: in true love He dignifies and even glorifies us!   For, once baptized into Jesus and washed clean of sin, we are then to be glorified as temples of His Holy Spirit and sublimely dignified as adoptive children of God, able -- in Jesus and by the Spirit -- to call upon God as ‘Our Father’.  Moreover, while we are still here on earth, all these our blessings are to be crowned by our being enabled to become instruments of the Holy Spirit and co-workers with Jesus our Saviour for the glory of the Father, as Jesus Himself said (John 14:12):
Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father.
That work, to which we and all Christian peoples are privileged to contribute under the power and inspiration of the Holy Spirit, is spoken of by the Psalmist who reveals  that:
The LORD said to my Lord: "Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool". (Psalm 110:1)
The ultimate fulfilment -- when Jesus returns in glory as Judge, when our work will be finally seen to be fruitful, and when God’s plan is ultimately revealed in all its wisdom, goodness and glory -- will come, St. Paul tells us, when:
All things (having been made) subject to Him, then the Son Himself (the whole Christ, Head and Body), will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.  (1 Corinthians 15:28)
People of God, the mystery of the Holy Trinity is a mystery because it is infinitely beyond the comprehension of our minds; but it is not a mystery in the sense that it is something foreign to us: for Divine Love, which is the essence of the Trinity, is able to penetrate and transform our lives, and indeed become the motivation and fulfilment of our very being, and in that way the most Holy Trinity becomes present to us, living in us, forming us, even working through us:
Jesus said, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.
The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. (John 14:23, 26)
On this day, People of God, let us therefore take to ourselves, with pride and gratitude, the words first addressed by the prophet Moses to Israel of old; words which only now, thanks to Jesus and the Holy Spirit, begin to reveal something of their full beauty and significance:
What great nation is there that has God so near to it, as the LORD our God is to us, for whatever reason we may call upon Him?  (Deuteronomy 4:7)