Trinity Sunday (C)
(Proverbs 8:22-31; Romans 5:1-5; St. John 16:12-15)
What is happiness for a human being? How is it to be found? Can it be ultimately, definitively, acquired?
In answer to that last question ‘can happiness be ultimately acquired, gained for oneself?’ the Christian answer is ‘No!’; but according to the Christian promise, it is offered and will be given by God, to all who recognize, love, and obey His Son, Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour.
Let us now turn our attention to the other questions: what is happiness for a human being and how is it to be sought? My answer is short, and, undoubtedly, all the more sure because it is short: happiness is to live in harmony with and accordance to our original, fundamental, make-up as we aspire to our ultimate human potential and personal fulfilment in Jesus Christ Our Lord.
In our first reading from the book of Proverbs we heard of the remarkably close relationship that exists between mankind and the rest of creation:
Thus says the wisdom of God: The Lord possessed me, the beginning of His ways, the forerunner of His prodigies of long ago; From of old I was poured forth, at the first, before the earth. … When the Lord established the heavens there was I; when He marked out the vault over the face of the deep, when He made firm the skies above; when He fixed fast the foundations of the earth, when He set for the sea its limit; then was I beside Him as His craftsman, I was His delight day by day, playing before Him all the while.
Creation was indeed a joyful work of wisdom and love!! And the wisdom of God rejoiced supremely when:
Playing on the surface of His earth I found delight in the sons of men.
There we can sense how close are the bonds uniting us with the whole of creation: bonds of deep compatibility and joyous sympathy bestowed by God Who created the whole universe -- with mankind as its crown -- through His beloved Son, the wisdom of God, by His nurturing and hovering Spirit of love. Son and Spirit, the Father’s two creating hands!
Such ties with creation are not just the indirect result of God’s creative activity, they are directly willed by Him for our well-being and creation’s integrity; for man, as lord of earth and of the universe, was made indeed the channel of God’s presence to creation:
The Lord God then took the man and settled him in the garden of Eden, to cultivate and care for it. The Lord God formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds of the air, and He brought them to the man to see what he would call them; whatever the man called each living creature was then its name. (Genesis 2:15, 19)
God blessed them, saying: “Be fertile and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and all the living things that crawl on the earth.” (Genesis 1:28)
Behold the richness of our human make-up, conditioned by so many and such varied, original and joyous, bonds: bonds of root compatibility with the whole of inanimate creation; bonds of appreciation and gratitude for all living sources providing food and serving the furtherance of society; bonds of most intimate knowledge and deepest sympathy with all animals claiming our stewardship before God!!
We are wide-open, so to speak, by our very position in creation; we are not beings closed-in on self! Selfishness is not in harmony with and accordance to our original, fundamental, make-up; and, going in that way against our very grain, it can never bring us happiness, not even on the natural level. And how that picture is confirmed by the relationships we go on to build up among ourselves in human society, relationships relentlessly multiplied by scientific and technological advances!
Nevertheless, our faith proclaims that we are not, like the rest of creation, to be satisfied with a merely natural destiny; for, being specially created in the image and likeness of God, we are endowed with a supernatural calling and potential for an eternal destiny:
God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. (Genesis 1:27)
Given, therefore, along with our serious and pressing concerns for the environment and future generations of men here on earth, the wide-spread alarm at the developing break-up of human society and mutuality all over the world, let us look more closely at the relevance of the teaching we have just reviewed with regard to that aboriginal concern of human-beings, "How is true happiness to be found today?”
Why are we human beings wide-open on so many fronts, yet, as individual persons, so deeply sensitive to intimate concerns? Why are we personally enmeshed in such a complexity of relationships and ties?
Because, as our faith teaches us, we are called to share, eternally, in the happiness of the eternal and infinite God Who made us, the God Who is One and Three: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, three divine Persons in the One Godhead.
There is constant development, from our very origins in creation, through our natural experience of personal life and social commitments, to our God-given calling to share in the social life and beatitude of God Who is Personally three and essentially One.
We cannot accept, surely, that our life here on earth – be it apparently good or bad, happy or sorrowful -- is of no consequence for our eternal destiny: our life on earth must be some sort of a preparation for the calling with which we have been endowed. And, indeed, Jesus has taught us that, in accordance with the faith and commitment we show in answer to our divine calling, we can begin, even here on earth, to experience a foretaste of the blessedness of heaven:
I have told you this, that My joy may be in you, and your joy may be complete.
My Father, Who has given (you) to Me, is greater than all; and no one is can take (you) out of the Father's hand. (John 15:11, 10:29.)
Therefore, since our eternal blessedness is bound up with the Three Persons in One God, selfishness is once again found to be, fundamentally and totally, opposed to any aspirations for true happiness; for, the intimate life of the Holy Trinity in which we -- in Jesus by the Spirit -- are called to participate, is a most sublime mystery of love, life, and total commitment.
Life, the glory of the Most Holy Trinity, is the expression of what is a divinely mutual and totally comprehensive knowledge:
No one knows the Son except the Father; and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him (Matthew 11:27),
together with what is the only possible response to such comprehensive knowledge of divine Being and Beauty, namely, a transcendent love and commitment, as manifested in human flesh by Jesus in His Passion:
The hour is coming, and has arrived, when each of you will be scattered to his own home, and you will leave Me alone. But I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. (John 16:32)
Father, the hour has come. Give glory to Your Son, that Your Son may glorify You.
Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Father, into Your hands I commend My spirit"; and when He had said this, He breathed His last. (John 17:1, Luke 23:46,)
Love, based on knowledge of the truth, and issuing in commitment, is ultimately the best guidance that can be given to humanity in its supreme quest for happiness. Because mankind is made in the image and likeness of God, and because our eternal destiny and divine calling is to share in God’s intimate life and beatitude, therefore our happiness as human beings here on earth is only to be found in love, commitment, and life; sharing in that love, commitment, and life revealed in the Father Who, knowingly and lovingly begets His only Son, and in the Holy Spirit of love proceeding from the Father and the Son in their mutual comprehension and total commitment.
Selfishness is totally destructive of human nature and human aspirations.
The Father's love is total: He loves His Son to such an extent that the Son is the equal of His Father in all things:
Everything that the Father has is Mine.
Similarly, the Son loves His Father with His whole Being, with the result that, when, as the Son of Man on earth, He was faced with the greatest torments known to the ancient world, the torments of a Roman flogging followed by death on a Cross, He wholeheartedly embraced them for His Father's glory (John 12:27-28):
I am troubled now. Yet what should I say? 'Father, save Me from this hour'? But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your name!"
The Spirit likewise in His earthly mission manifests His Divine Character by His total commitment to Jesus, as Jesus himself said:
He will glorify Me, because He will take from what is Mine and declare it to you.
People of God, even in everyday, ordinary, experience, those who are committed are also to some extent admired or even envied, because, having a purpose in which they can lose themselves they are seen to have become more or less free from the stifling bonds of self-solicitude and concern; and, most wonderfully, the unity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in what we call the Holy Trinity, though recognized as the supreme Christian mystery of the nature of Divine Being is, nevertheless, so close to our experience and appreciation of life, in so far as it is the total and eternal expression of the selflessness of Divine Love! Made in the image and likeness of God, Who is never far from, never alien to, us!!
We are called to share in that Divine Blessedness as members of the Son: members of that Body of which He is the Head. In Him, by His Spirit, we are destined to see the beauty and experience the majesty of the Father in all truth; and, in a beatific response of love, to be entirely committed -- in total self-forgetfulness -- to praising the glory of the Father, and come thereby to the fullness of our life and being in Christ Jesus Our Lord.
Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. A slave does not remain in a household forever, but a son always remains. So if the Son makes you free, then you will be free indeed. (John 8:34-36)
Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. (Galatians 5:1)
People of God, our human nature, created by God for Himself has, indeed, been vitiated by sin but it has not been destroyed; and so we are always liable to have what Wordsworth has described as ‘intimations of immortality’: insights, in this case, into ourselves and the realities of our life and calling which far surpass in their penetration our normal observations and awareness. Our human longings for that freedom and fulfilment which alone can give us true happiness can be penetratingly clear, but too frequently that clarity of vision becomes clouded over when we turn to our own devices, and experience the deceits of men, or discover the vanity of the world’s easy promises. We should learn today, and never again forget, to appreciate the treasures of our faith, and above all to look with ever deeper admiration, reverence, and awe, to the Holy Trinity -- Father, Son and Holy Spirit -- for that inspiration, enlightenment, and power, that will enable us to seek aright in this life and ultimately to receive in the next God’s Gift transcending all earthly imaginations and desires: the Gift that will transfigure and glorify in the likeness of the Risen Lord Jesus the whole family of God’s adopted children and establish the heavenly and eternal Kingdom where God is All in All.