The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity
Proverbs 8:22-31 | Romans 5:1-5 | John 16:12-15
God our Father, who by sending into the world the word of truth and the spirit of sanctification made known to the human race your wondrous mystery, grant us, we pray, that in professing the true faith, we may acknowledge the trinity of eternal glory and adore your unity, powerful in majesty. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever, amen.
This feast, the Feast of the Trinity, is one of those times when I want so much to be able to awaken you to the mystery that is hidden in everything that God is and does. We are children of the Father God, but we are so slow to fathom and to accept and to take in the majesty, the wonder, the awesomeness of this God and what he’s done for us, what he’s doing for us on a daily basis.
We live in isolated worlds of our own concerns, our own needs, and I remember, when I first learned about my faith, my first understanding of this Judeo-Christian tradition that is my root to everything real in the world, when I think back to the time as a child I was learning about it, there was something so clear about the teaching I got. It was somehow God is very, very much there as a lover, but he’s also like a human father. He asks us to do things, and if we fail him, if we don’t do what he wants, he’s upset with us, and then we’re punished. And so there was something in that early image that was given to me that is so part of my unconscious right now that I deal with. It’s my first reaction to so many things. What have I done that I shouldn’t have done? What mistake did I make? How can I make up for it? Yet when you really listen to the fullness of the message of God — you can’t stay just in the Old Testament. You can’t even just stay in the New Testament. You have to stay in the reality of God’s relationship, which is dynamic and alive and effective in human beings’ lives. That has been going on for — millions of years? I don't know, but what I’m trying to say is that the revelation of God is an ongoing, uncovering, unfolding discovery of who he really is, and certainly in the Old Testament we have a certain image of him as a God who was very demanding in the beginning, and he kept changing his requirements of us, when we couldn’t respond correctly to him, to stay in a relationship with him. He didn’t expel us or get rid of us. He said, “Well, let me change. If I’m demanding that you must do what I ask for you to be in touch with me, well, maybe I’ll change that. If you’re not in touch with me and don’t do what I ask, I’m not going to leave you like I first said I was.” Actually, when he said, “I’ll still be with you when you mess up,” then he realized, “Well, maybe what I have to do is do something for you so that you will see something, be given something that will awaken your heart and mind to the way in which I’ve always wanted you to live.” And that issue of God wanting us to live a certain way, I thought, was somehow to please him, but it’s not at all. All he wants is for you and for me to live the life we’re called to live so that we can be experiencing it as it was intended to be experienced. It is marvelous. It is overwhelmingly beautiful and full and rich. That’s his gift to us.
First, he started with the law and his image as our Father, and we were told that these were the things that human nature was intended to be. Now try to do what your nature is calling you to do. Don’t follow a nature that is not really truly you. That’s just called evil, but it’s mostly — it breathes, and it lives in our indecisions, our doubts, our not being convinced of who God really is. He’s a loving father who created us in a world that is so beautiful and so wonderful, and what he longs for is that we engage in it, experience it and share it.
So look at the first reading. It’s a beautiful reading of this notion of when God created the world, and he created it with a part of him that this feast is asking us to become more aware of, the Holy Spirit. And this is so exciting to me to listen to this, because it so goes beyond anything your mind can fathom. That’s meaning you’re closer to the truth. If it all makes sense, it’s logical and practical and fair, you’re not anywhere near the kingdom. No, but here we have this image of this Spirit of God that didn’t come until later in terms of our being able to attach ourselves to the gifts of this usually feminine figure, wisdom, but in the story of creation, you see this part of God. This feminine, life-loving part of him was there at the very beginning. Everything that he created, she was there, and the feminine part of that story is, as everything was happening, she somehow was the artisan participating in its creation, the mountains, the hills, the waters, the skies, the stars, but the beautiful thing in that passage is she danced. She danced all around. She took delight in it. The word is play, but it’s translated in other translations as dance. So this part of God that is dancing and thrilled with creating this place for his people —and it says, “I love these human beings.” That’s an image I was never given of God, that he created this world for us and wanted us to experience it in a way that gave us extraordinary joy, and that’s what it really is.
It’s a world, it’s a life that we are supposed to be experiencing, and listen to this Trinitarian image. The Father is the one who creates. The Father is the aspect of God that is like a Father, like the one who gives life, creates. The Son is the manifestation of who the Father really is. So we have Jesus is the word. The word is truth. God is truth, Jesus, the word made flesh. So we have in Jesus then this beautiful experience of a human being filled with divinity who is living his life in a way that we are intended to live ours. He’s not living an extraordinary life in terms of something radically unusual that we sometimes think it’s that. No, he’s living the life that you and I are called to live now. Jesus said that. “All the things you see me doing, this ability I have to affect change in other people, that I have this love for them, this forgiveness for them, and I want to see them whole and complete, and wherever I go, this intention of mine is so intense that it changes people, that their bodies change, they get better, that’s what human beings are made to be.” That’s what our destiny is. What else would he be saying when he said, “I am the one who’s come to explain to you who you are, and everything I ask you to be, you have the potential in you to be. And I want you to be like me,” engaged in the world in a way that is so beautifully disinterested and almost discouraged by the selfish separation of stuff that human beings come up with of being better than someone else and judging and condemning. All of that has no place in the kingdom, because it’s all about this one thing we prayed for in the opening prayer. It’s all about unity. We adore, we worship the unity of this thing that God created, our life — our life in him, in each other.
If there was anything I could say today that I want to say so much it is that there is this unity that exists in the world, and evil has come to rob us of its fruitfulness, and what happens is we become judgmental and condemning and separate individuals competing with each other. How foreign is that to the intention of the God who created us? We are to be one, one in our love of the Father, one in our openness to receive what the gifts of the Son truly are, and then one in this mysterious thing that — this liturgy really does focus, it seems, more on the Holy Spirit than the other dimensions of God, but the Spirit is this thing that has to come later. I love that. When Jesus was talking about the Spirit, he said, “You can’t handle the Spirit, the wisdom, the understanding of the Spirit now. You have to go through some more evolution. You have to change. You have to understand more, but there will come a day when you’re going to understand. You’re going to understand something that is so powerful, so beautiful, and when you see it, you’re going to be astonished at what this God ultimately is up to. It’s going to seem so much of a surprise, so unexpected, so inexplicable.” And it creates in us a kind of curiosity, a bewilderment, a perplexity that could the world be really this good? Could there be something in this world that would bring us to a place, while we’re in this world, of great unity, oneness? Yeah. Look at the evolution of humanity.
I just spent time in Italy the last couple of weeks, and these beautiful little villages, these high-top little towns that are so beautiful were built on these mountaintops, because it was the only way to defend themselves from each other. And they had walls around these cities, and they would go to war with each other. Five miles apart, they would go to war over something. I don't know, whatever it was, political, social, economic, and these little villages right next to each other, constantly at war — not constantly but often at war. And you look at these places now. How could they possibly have been at war with each other? Think of the divisions we have created in the world overtime. They’ve evolved out of, I think a more primitive understanding of who we are, a less conscious sense of what human beings are, but look at the transformation. I’ll just take it in my lifetime, which is a good chunk, 80 years. So you look at it, and you see, when I grew up, a black and a white family never lived next door to each other. Germans in Cincinnati never married Irish people, because that was considered to be somehow lowering the German bloodline or something. All these divisions, and one by one they keep going away. They keep going away, and I pray they continue to keep going away until there’s a oneness. There’s a oneness that is there that is the promise of God. It’s all one.
What does that mean, it’s all one? It means it’s all interrelated. It’s all interconnected. When you separate yourself by judgment from someone else, it’s an artificial separation, because it’s not real. So it never feels right. It never produces goodness. It only produces pain and suffering. “I’m opposed to you. I refuse to forgive you.” It just feels unnatural to me. It just feels wrong, because it goes against the very work that we’re now in, and the work now is the work of the Holy Spirit, which is to awaken everyone’s eyes and minds and hearts to the oneness that is part of what God has always intended this world to be. And it will become, I believe with all my heart, more and more that way where, I don't know how many years from now, but it will seem so insane that at one time Germany was at war with other countries, that we were at war with Germany or Japan. That will seem like stupid, ludicrous stuff, because it didn’t produce anything but pain and separation, but as Paul mentions, a lot of times the pain and the separation that causes a lot of discomfort are those things that eventually develop character, that eventually make us more aware of the insanity of living in a world as if it’s separate, as if it’s not already connected.
I had this image, when I was getting ready to prepare this homily this morning, and I hope it makes sense to you. It was probably, let’s see, probably in the ‘70s, maybe ‘80s, no ‘70s or ‘60s, when we had our first pictures from outer space of the earth, this blue ball floating in the universe, and I think that must have had some major impact on our understanding of existence. At least all of a sudden, this thing that I thought was so big, so enormous, the world — how can God take care of the world, and then all of a sudden, I see the world is this little ball floating in this universe. It’s a tiny part of the whole universe, and then this universe may be — there may be many universes. This idea of big and small, important/unimportant, all these distinctions we make, they don’t really make a lot of sense, because just imagine God loving that blue ball as one of his most wonderful things that he created, and then the love that he has for that and the wonder that it’s sustained by his love. Well, that same love that he has for that planet and for the existence of everything he has for each and every individual. He loves you as much as he loves the planet, as much as he loves the universe, because you’re one with the universe. You’re the same. I know it sounds crazy, It doesn’t make sense to the logical mind, but what does make a lot of sense to me is the gift of the Holy Spirit, because if it’s one thing it’s wanting to accomplish — and I love that most often it is depicted as a woman who wants unity, who wants us to experience oneness, not division, not antagonism, not war. I think women hold together every family, and the feminine in every man holds together every family. All the divisions we have of masculine/feminine, gay/straight, black/white, whatever it is, all that’s imagined by us. It’s not real. We’re all different, all reflections of the one truth, and what a wonderful thing to celebrate on this Feast of the Trinity. This is the fullness of the teaching of Christianity, Judeo-Christianity, and it’s we’re all one. And anytime you judge yourself and break yourself into parts — I hate me — separations like that make no sense to the world, to the way existence is, and when they don’t and we live in them, it’s painful. It’s destructive. It robs of us the thing God created Jesus to accomplish, and that’s peace, the peace of the kingdom. That’s our gift, the oneness that brings peace.
Father, free us from every illusion, every misunderstanding of your kingdom, every part of us that somehow imagines a world that isn’t the world that you created. We humans, we create worlds that are toxic, separate us, create great suffering that’s unnecessary. So awaken us to this insanity and open us to a world that is working together with every part of every aspect of every problem so that instead of taking sides and working against the other side, we’ll come together under the direction and the love and the power of your Holy Spirit. And we ask this in Jesus’ name, amen.