Notoriously, this is one of the hardest Sundays of the year to preach on. Today is Holy Trinity Sunday, and perhaps no concept, no doctrine throughout the history of Christianity has been the subject of more debate and controversy than the Trinity. Certainly, no topic has produced as many heretics as this one…and in the presence of one so wise as Fr. David Medow, the great “Heresy Sniffer”, I know I walk a thin line this afternoon.
There are a million things one could say about the Trinity, a million directions one could choose to take in an attempt to explain this concept. Yesterday, the Knights of Columbus posted a link on their Facebook page with a link to a Vatican Radio story with the caption, “Here’s everything you need know about the Trinity.” Impossible! The other various tenets of our faith – the sacraments, the moral teachings, the prayers, the devotions, the life of grace, etc – are all profound mysteries the true depths of which can never be plumbed. How much more, then, is this true when dealing with today’s theme, which does not merely concern the things of God, but God himself.
The world disdains anything mysterious.
With the ironic exception of matters related to the human heart,
the world demands transparency, clarity, action, results, solutions.
Mystery is unwelcome because by its very definition it cannot provide any of those.
We love Scooby Doo and CLUE because the mystery is always solved in the end but “solved” is precisely what a mystery can never be.
Problems are solved, and mysteries are exhausted.
More precisely, mysterious things must be approached, investigated, examined as if they could be exhausted which of course they can never be.
We shirk from the mysterious things in our lives,
because we know they will only cause us to wonder more, to search more,
and ultimately to learn more about ourselves and the deepest,
inner workings of our own complex humanity.
What we want is an answer: What, who is the Trinity? How can there be three persons and one God? Tell me!
We think we want an answer to that question, but what we really crave is depth.
We yearn for some kind of resolution to the age-old question posed by St. Augustine:
“O God, who am I and who are you?”
Alright. The Trinity. 3 persons, in one God. St. Patrick used the Shamrock; three leaves on one stem. Other saints have spoken of the Trinity using the sun as an analogy.
These are fine.
Today I would like offer a different analogy
and speak of the Trinity for what it ultimately is: a relationship.
The Trinity is composed of three persons; living, interacting, thinking, persons.
Many of you are married.
In marriage there is a lover, and a beloved, and, when something magical happens, the love between the lover and the beloved is fruitful, it results in a new life.
Same thing with God…sorta.
Think of the Father as the lover, and the Son as the beloved one, and the love itself which results from this union is the Holy Spirit.
You have lover, beloved, and love itself.
The Trinity is one God, and it is three persons who are united as a community of love.
If God, therefore, is a community…if God lives and moves and has his being in the context of a community, this has tremendous implications for us.
We know from the book of Genesis that we are made in the image and likeness of God.
Therefore, we are made in the image and likeness of community.
Thus, at our core…at the deepest level, we are built for communion with God and with each other.
This is why it feels good to sit around a campfire with our best friends;
this is why it feels so right to watch the sunset with the one we love;
this is why nothing beats an impromptu, agenda-free dinner out with our spouse and kids.
We are made for each other!
Last weekend, I was in Grand Rapids for the priesthood ordination of one of my best friends. He lives in the middle of nowhere, and so as I was leaving his parish well after nightfall I found myself driving under a beautiful night sky through the corn and bean fields of Michigan.
I turned the radio news, and I heard stories about who stabbed who, and who blew up what; and immediately the peace was gone and replaced with perplexity.
We are living in a very fake world.
We are surrounded all the time by cement and screens.
We’re stuck in traffic, and stuck on Facebook, snapchat, Instaaa, and God-forbid Tindr.
But every now and then, we experience moments of mystery.
We make beautiful eye contact with someone and instead of an offensive comment,
or a political statement, or road-rage, or nagging,
we are met with the glance of another human being;
the image of God in me meeting the image of God in you.
And something sings within me, and I am drawn out of me and toward the other.
I was texting a friend about the perplexity I felt in Grand Rapids, and this was his response:
Looking at the stars…makes me want more than cement and pixels. One of the highest experiences of wonder – a look from a pretty girl – stirs up this deepest and truest desire in my heart for infinite togetherness. She awakens my longing for the infinite. And elicits a promise of the fulfillment of that longing. But her or the stars are never enough. But they’re necessary for the wonder that’s necessary for my desire afire, which is necessary for my awareness of my true identity as a human which is necessary for my journey to the fulfillment of all my longings.
The deepest and truest desire of my heart: infinite togetherness.
And when we finally get out of ourselves and encounter the living, communal, Triune Godhead in someone else,
the pilot light within comes alive in a new way and so we pursue a relationship;
it does not have to be romantic, it could be friendly.
But as the relationship progresses in a healthy way, we realize:
the image of God in this person is only an image, but it is leading me toward what I ultimately desire: infinite togetherness with the One in whose image I have been created.
Ours is not a faraway God of rejection, of oppression, or of sadness.
He does not rejoice in our faults, or keep meticulous track of our every wrong step.
He is not disappointed in us, mad at us.
We have no cause to be afraid of him, because he is love.
He is, as our reading from Exodus exclaims:
“The Lord, the Lord! A merciful and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity.”
Infinite togetherness with him, must begin with us –you and me –
becoming more open to infinite togetherness with each other.
God is our companion. He walks with us on the way.
We must be companions for one another.
Who are you mad at? Forgive them right now.
Which sibling haven’t you spoken to in years? Call them this afternoon.
Which coworker were you rude to on Friday? Ask them to lunch on Monday.
How did you hurt your Mom or dad this morning? Give them a hug.
We must relearn to say “good morning” in the grocery store, and “good day” on the street.
Tell people you love them, be open with people and show them who you are;
accept people for who they are, that they might know they’re not alone.
Take the advice of St. Paul today:
Mend your ways, encourage one another,
agree with one another, live in peace,
and the God of love and peace will be with you.
Greet one another with a holy kiss.
All the holy ones greet you.
Infinite togetherness starts with finite togetherness.
Openness, here and now, to the image and person of God presenting itself to you in other.
The Triune God, the Holy God, the Mighty God, the Father and Son and Spirit,
the communion of persons who dwell together
in perfect and unmatched harmony
makes himself known to us through those around us.
Not through stoplights, or snapchats, or Starbucks, but through people
who are real and alive.
He reaches out!
May the Eucharist today fill us with the strength we need to see him,
and may it awaken our desire for infinite togetherness with each other as a community of
believers, and friends, and saints
that one day we might know the height of infinite togetherness
as we sing together as one,
with the angels and saints, forever:
Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of our fathers,
praiseworthy and exalted above all forever;
And blessed is your holy and glorious name,
praiseworthy and exalted above all for all ages.