Trinity Sunday (A)
(Exodus 34:4-6, 8-9; 2 Corinthians 13:11-13; John 3:16-18)
God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him might have everlasting life; he will not be condemned. But whoever does not believe has already been condemned.
God, in His infinite perfection is immortal, has everlasting life. He so loved the world that He sent us His only Son, and therefore the Son – our Beloved Lord Jesus -- not only represents God’s love for us but even presents it to us in both its fulness of divinity and in its supreme ‘accessibility’ for our human minds and hearts. That is why:
Whoever does not believe has already been condemned.
Condemned, however, by him – her – self, not by God. Whoever will not accept God’s love cannot be embraced by the eternal God and must therefore, and indeed thereby, perish.
That, dear People of God, is a fact of the spiritual life. Just as whoever will not eat food, drink water, or breath air, will thereby die … so whoever wills not, chooses not -- by denial, rejection, or indifference -- to believe in God’s only-begotten Son among us will, thereby and therefore, die spiritually and eternally. Get rid of all modern sentimentality and godless self-love, People of God, there is nothing cruel in a fact of life:
(Can) a human being talk back to God? Will what is made say to its maker, ‘Why have you created me so?’ (Romans 9:19)
However, God did not simply create us to be free in His own likeness, He sent and encouraged His only-begotten Son to ultimately embrace outrageous suffering and death in our flesh to help us use our freedom aright for our supreme blessing and fulfilment and for God’s greater glory.
As a result of that, dear People of God, we Catholics and Christians know of and adore a Most Holy Trinity in sublime and eternal glory in Heaven, and we also know of -- and even experience in a faithful measure -- a most Holy Trinity at work here on earth for our eternal salvation, and to Whom we give most heartfelt thanks, selfless trust, and obedient love. Let us consider that Trinity of our earthly Catholic and Christian spiritual experience somewhat more closely today.
Jesus is for us the Way (in His Body), the Truth (in His teaching and example, His salvific Death and Resurrection), and the Life (by the power and inspiration of His Spirit). After His bar-mitzva youthful experience of God His Father (‘My Father’s house’) mediated to Him by the Temple Liturgy, Jesus spent long years (18!) waiting on and waiting for His heavenly Father to call Him. He knew His Father was at work in John the Baptist’s ministry and so, it would seem, to admire His Father’s work and draw as physically close as possible to that manifest presence, He went to John’s baptizing in the Jordan where -- to His Father’s great joy – He joined Himself to those confessing pilgrims and humble penitents, showing Himself thereby to be indeed, even instinctively, Son of Man. That inspiration to search for His Father to the utmost was a direct inspiration from the Holy Spirit (not just a deeply spiritual aspiration born of the Temple liturgy as before) and so, this time all was authentically reciprocated by the Father most manifestly embracing His Son, Whom He had indeed, by the Spirit, brought here to begin His public mission of salvation and redemption for mankind, and to enter upon the ultimate destruction of Satan’s realm among men.
Likewise, when Jesus later took Peter, James, and John with Him to the mountain top where He was transfigured before them, surely it was, at that most decisive moment, the Spirit’s direct inspiration and the Father’s will that brought Jesus where the Father wanted to glorify Him before His specially chosen disciples, and where, with the witness and testimony of Moses and Elijah representing all those prophets and martyrs who, at God’s behest, had throughout OT times spoken of and worked for the Messiah’s advent to Israel, He willed to strengthen, enlighten, and embolden His beloved Son before the trials so ominously awaiting and threatening Him.
Let us therefore, dear People of God, try live out our spiritual life in a ‘Trinitarian’ way, so to speak, ever seeking with Jesus, following His teaching and His example, for the Father in all things, under the power and spiritual guidance guidance of His Holy Spirit, bestowed on us through His sacraments, above all the most holy Eucharist, and in our dutiful and loving prayer.
Before my Catholic days, as an aspiring lieder and concert hall singer, I was for several years at the Royal Academy of Music in London and I sought to take advantage of what that great city offered by hearing as much music of the highest quality as I could. My aim was not so much to continually and critically assess with my mind what I heard but to imbibe into my very being what was beautiful and true musically … and even today nearly 70 years I still delight to hear ‘my’ local blackbirds giving me wonderful lessons on tonal quality and voice production!
Now that is not unlike my present aspiration to living the spiritual life in a ‘Trinitarian’ way. Try to live with Jesus as much as possible: a blackbird can always speak to, teach me about singing; let Catechism doctrine, holy reading, Catholic devotions, life’s lessons, gratitude for blessings and experience of suffering, speak to you about Jesus, about His love for His Father and for you. It is a matter of constantly trying … No! not trying to think, imagine, work out, for there is so much of self in such endeavours, so much secretly trying to bring about what is wanted. Infinitely much better, for the Psalmist (51:8) says of God:
Behold You desire true sincerity, and secretly You teach me wisdom,
it is by constantly wanting, hoping, watching, waiting, and longing for Him and ever asking Him to teach you about God, the Father, Who is, as Jesus Himself said,
My God and your God, My Father and your Father.
Now this living with Jesus is utterly dependent on our listening for the Holy Spirit Whom Jesus bestows on us above all in His Eucharist, and through the sacraments of Mother Church. For now, Jesus teaches us from without, through the words He once spoke, the example He once gave, the salvation He won for us; and all that is ‘brought’ into us, into our hearts and minds, becoming part of our way of living and the joy and confidence of our prayers, by His Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit alone Who thus can speak most convincingly and authoritatively, most beautifully and alluringly, about Jesus to us who aspire to live and grow spiritually before God.
Mother Church’s doctrine of the Holy Trinity is sublimely beautiful but her liturgy, at least in some of her monastic liturgies, can easily be bogged down by the incessant repetition of ‘accepted’ sayings bedevilled by ‘One’ and ‘Three’ in all sorts of arrangements. Here we should most profitably recall Our Blessed Lady, Mother Church’s supreme model and example in her love for Jesus, who, Scripture tells us, ‘treasured all these things in her heart’, and now from the heights of heaven can treasure in her heart and help us treasure in our hearts the wonder and beauty of the Most Holy Trinity that pervades her whole being. Dear People of God, let Mary help you, may the Holy Spirit lead and ‘inspire’ you, to know and ever more appreciate the Catechetical purity of Mother Church’s doctrine of the Holy Trinity and to celebrate it both humbly and whole-heartedly in your own personal liturgy of love and admiration, prayer and thanksgiving, and life-long endeavour.