|SUNDAY HOMILIES FOR YEARS A B C|
|By Fr Munachi E. Ezeogu, cssp|
|Homily for Trinity Sunday - Based on the Gospel|
Like God, Like Worshippers
|Exodus 34:4-6, 8-9||2 Corinthians 13:11-13||John 3:16-18|
The story is told of St Augustine of Hippo, a great philosopher and theologian. He was
preoccupied with the doctrine of the Blessed Trinity. He wanted so much to understand the doctrine
of one God in three persons and to be able to explain it logically. One day he was walking along the
sea shore and reflecting on this matter. Suddenly, he saw a little child all alone on the shore. The
child made a whole in the sand, ran to the sea with a little cup, filled her cup with sea water, ran up
and emptied the cup into the hole she had made in the sand. Back and forth she went to the sea, filled
her cup and came and poured it into the hole. Augustine drew up and said to her, “Little child, what
are you doing?”
The doctrine of the inner relationship of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in such a way that each of them is fully and equally God, yet there are not three Gods but one, cannot be fully comprehended by the human mind. It is a mystery.
If we expected today’s readings to give us a clear and elaborate presentation of the doctrine of the Blessed Trinity, we have found out that they simply do not. The doctrine of three persons in one God, equal in divinity yet distinct in personality, is not explicitly spelt out in the Bible. In fact the very word “Trinity” is not found in the Bible. Early Christians arrived at the doctrine when they applied their God-given reason to the revelation which they had received in faith. Jesus spoke about the Father who sent him (the Son) and about the Holy Spirit whom he was going to send. He said that the Father had given him (the Son) all that he has and that he in turn has given to the Holy Spirit all that he has received from the Father. In this we see the unity of purpose among the three persons of the Trinity.
In the story of salvation we usually attribute creation to the Father, redemption to the Son and sanctification to the Holy Spirit. Nevertheless, though they are distinct as persons, neither the Father nor the Son nor the Holy Spirit ever exists or acts in isolation from the other two persons of the Godhead.
Like Augustine we may not be able to understand the how of the Trinity but I think it is very important to understand the why. Why did God reveal to us this mystery regarding the very nature of the Supreme Being? The importance of this doctrine lies in this: we are made in the image of God, therefore, the more we understand God the more we understand ourselves. Experts in religion tell us that people always try to be like the god they worship. People who worship a warrior god tend to be warmongering, people who worship a god of pleasure tend to be pleasure-seeking, people who worship a god of wrath tend to be vengeful, and people who worship a god of love tend to be loving. Like a god, so the worshippers. Therefore, the more important question for us to ask today is: What does the doctrine of the Blessed Trinity tell us about the kind of God we worship and what does this say about the kind of people we should be? On this, I have two points to share with you.
(1) God does not exist in solitary individualism but in a community of love and sharing. God is not a loner. This means that a Christian in search of Godliness (Matthew 5:48) must shun every tendency to isolationism. The ideal Christian spirituality is not that of flight from the world like that of certain Buddhist monastic traditions where the quest for holiness means permanent withdrawal to the Himalayas away from contact and involvement with people and society.
(2) True love requires three partners. You remember the old saying “Two is company, three is a crowd.” The Trinity shows us that three is community, three is love at its best; three is not a crowd. Taking an example from the human condition we see that when a man A is in love with a woman B they seal the loving by producing a baby C. Father, mother and child -- love when it perfected becomes a trinity.
We are made in God’s image and likeness. Just as God is God only in a Trinitarian relationship, so we can be fully human only in a relationship of three partners. The self needs to be in a horizontal relationship with others and a vertical relationship with God. In that way our life becomes Trinitarian like that of God. Then we discover that the so-called “I-and-I” principle of unbridled individualism which is acceptable in modern society leaves much to be desired. The doctrine of the Blessed Trinity challenges us to adopt rather an I-and-God-and-neighbour principle. I am a Christian insofar as I live in a relationship of love with God and other people. May the grace of the Holy Trinity help us to banish all traces of self-centeredness in our lives and to live in love of God and of neighbour.
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