Today’s reflection is for the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, Sunday, June 16, 2019, and the readings can be found by clicking here. This reflection was given as a homily at the Deuel Vocational Institute, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, in Tracy.
Today the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Holy Trinity. It is, of course, a bit strange to celebrate a Dogma of the Church, right? And while we do indeed celebrate a Dogma—which I will talk about—the thing that I would like to really emphasize today are the courageous men and women who were open to what God was revealing to them in their time and place.
The Dogma of the Most Holy Trinity, the truth that God is three in one; an interconnected, yet distinct, communion of persons is an absolute requirement for belief if we are going to call ourselves Christians. The distinctive mark of the disciple of Jesus Christ is repeated every time we make the sign of the cross, in the NAME of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It’s the inexhaustible mystery of the Triune God.
At different times and in different ways, humans have tried to wrap their minds around this great mystery using different images or symbols. Some are more helpful than others, but all are worth considering, and all ultimately fall short of the full reality of the mystery. St. Patrick used the image of the 3-leaf clover as a way to explain the triune God; three distinct leaves, one clover; three distinct persons, one God. Or maybe a triangle is helpful; three distinct sides, one triangle, or three angles and one triangle. Or the Celtic knot—three loops, one knot. Yesterday I was at Starbucks sitting in front of three window panes, that made up one big window.
Probably the one I appreciate the most is one of experience. I’ve heard that the Trinity is like steam, water, and ice. It is all H20, but we experience the H20 in different ways depending upon the temperature. God is one, but the one God was experienced by Abraham and Moses in a way that was different than the disciples experienced Jesus. And that was different than the way that they and we experience the Holy Spirit. This is indeed a great mystery. It’s a fun exercise to walk around and try to discover threes and twos. I mentioned that I saw three window panes while at Starbucks, the cool thing was that each of the panes was made up of two parts—reminding me not only of Trinity, but also about the dual nature of Christ—fully human and fully divine in one person. What a joy to discover how nature and human construction can remind us and reveal to us the mystery of Jesus Christ and the Trinity all around us! Stay awake!
Just take a look around right now. What threes and twos can you find right where you are? [Pause] Discovering the presence of God right where you are, where you hadn’t seen God before is precisely the joy that was experienced by Jesus’ disciples. They were Jews. The only God they knew was God the Father—the God of their ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. But God was doing something new. They came to understand and believe that Jesus of Nazareth, the carpenter’s son, was actually God. You have to appreciate just how groundbreaking that was! For over four-thousand years Yahweh, and Yahweh alone was God…and then came Jesus. And then at Pentecost, God reveals the Holy Spirit! Absolutely incredible.
This was not an easy thing for any of the disciples to come to terms with—that God was one, and then two, and then three! But they were courageous! They were willing to struggle with what God was teaching them. They had ears to hear and eyes to see how God was making some very important changes in the way they understood and experienced God. They were men of strength, and prayer, and courage, and they remained open to what God was telling them, and they obeyed God rather than men. Some were jailed and then put to death for it, but they knew what they saw, and no one could make them deny it.
Jesus says to his disciples in the Gospel today, “I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth.” My brothers, the Holy Spirit still has much more to tell us. The Holy Spirit continues to guide the Church into greater truth. In each generation the Spirit is able to reveal what a previous generation unable to bear. The last council of the Church is proof that the Spirit of God is as alive today as it was 2,000 years ago—guiding the Church, leading the Church, challenging the Church, and courageously empowering the Church.
We celebrate Trinity Sunday as an important reminder that God is not done speaking to us, teaching us, and guiding us to all truth! Through science, technology, philosophy, art, engineering, and yes, even, theology, the Spirit of God wants to show us something new, something life-giving, something that will change the way we see God, each other, and the world around us. Trinity Sunday reminds us that if we are faithful and if we keep our eyes, ears, and hearts open, that God wants to speak to us, teach us, and fill us with incredible joy. God wants to continue to surprise us with something new, that you never would have believed before.
As you leave this communion service today, be on the lookout for what God is trying to show you. You might discover a relationship that you never thought possible, or joy in a place of darkness, or…well, I don’t know, but God does. So be open, be led by the Spirit, and be courageous.