Jun. 10, 2017

HOLY TRINITY SUNDAY

WE ARE CALLED TO GOD’S LOVE

Readings: 1st- Ex.34:4-6,8-9; 2nd- 2Cor.13:11-13; Gospel- Jn.3:16-18 

The mystery of the Trinity is fundamental to the Catholic faith and defines both the church and her liturgical worship. We believe in God the Father who is the creator and maker of all things. We believe in God the Son, the redeemer and savior of mankind. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the sanctifier, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified (Nicene Creed). The church teaches that there are Three Persons in one God. Saint Augustine wrote, "The Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit intimate a divine unity of one and the same substance in an indivisible equality; and therefore, that they are not three Gods, but one God". The Trinity therefore defines us. It is a mystery that we cannot explain. God the Father is the unbegotten God. The Father begot the Son, the Word made flesh. The Holy Spirit is the Love between God the Father and the Son. In the Trinity is undivided unity, the bond of love. The Catholic Church professes her faith in and from the Trinity. 

In concluding his letter to the Corinthian church, Saint Paul invokes the blessings of the Trinity, "May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you now and forever" (2Cor.13:13). Paul recognizes the unity which comes from knowing and loving God by his parting words for the Corinthians. He signs off from the community that is struggling against unbelief and immoral behaviors with words of exhortation. “…Rejoice, mend your ways, encourage one another, agree with one another, live in peace” (2Cor.13:11). There cannot be any time to talk about encouragement and peace in our scary world than now. There’s crisis in the universe beginning from the United States. Religious and political tension seems to characterize the day. The language is one of discord and anger. People malign others these days rather than encourage them. It is the same in the UK. The terrorist attacks have contributed in no small measure in increasing tension all over. Look at what is happening in Marawi Philippines where the government is reportedly clashing with terrorist fighters. The terrorists are destroying religious items, smashing statutes of the Virgin Mary and other sacred images on the ground. We hear that thousands of residents are trapped in remote villages without access to food or good water. The same tension is brewing in Africa. Cameroun is having crisis for some time now. Nigeria, my own country is boiling very seriously and needs God’s intervention to prevent what seems to be a possible anarchy. The Igbo tribe (Biafra) wants to secede because of the many years of injustice suffered in the country but the Hausas who hold power are threatening fire and brimstone. And the government is completely comatose. No one is sure of the health condition of Nigeria’s president till now, and no one says anything about him anymore. So, it’s messy. I don’t want to go into the case in the Middle East because it doesn’t make sense; seeming hopelessness. 

The world needs to hear good words, exhortations, encouragements, words of peace. We need to speak words that inspire and motivate others. We need God now more than ever. Moses gives us God’s attributes in the first reading as “merciful, gracious, slow to anger, kindness and fidelity”. The name God declared to Moses on Mount Sinai is “Lord”. That is his name, “Yahweh”. Moses invoked him to visit the stubborn stiff-necked people and to pardon their sins and wickedness. The world must recognize who God is, and we must invoke his name. The Old Testament characterization of God is the Hebrew word “Hesed” which means “Steadfast”. As seen in the reading, God is, “merciful and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love” (Ex.34:6; Num.14:18). He is God of the covenant, “…showing steadfast love to thousands” (Ex.20:6; cf. Deut.5:10; 7:9). God is ever faithful.    

Christ’s injunction to his apostles is, "Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit". The church baptizes in the name of the Trinity- Father, Son and Holy Spirit. She incorporates her children into the life of the Trinity. We pray, Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. Hence we acknowledge that all authority in heaven and on earth is ascribed to the most Holy Trinity. At Mass, we say, "Through Him, with Him, in Him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is yours forever and ever".   

So, today's feast draws from the lessons of the Trinity. We cannot explain the Trinity in mathematical terms. Adding 1+1+1 in the case of the Trinity is not 3. In my understanding, the Trinity surpasses both multiplication, division, addition and subtraction. Saint Paul describes it as a mystery that is too deep to understand (cf.1Tim.3:16). 

The Trinity adopts us as God's children who partake in the divine love. The gospel narrative of today recounts, “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life” (Jn.3:16). Christ came into the world for our sake. This is an awesome privilege which prompted Moses to ask his people in the Old Testament, "Did anything so great ever happen before?" “Can we ever imagine it?” Saint John says, "You must see what great love the Father has lavished on us by letting us be called God's children- which is what we are" (1John 3:1). The Trinity becomes an invitation to acknowledge this privilege and to imbibe the spirit of God's love among his people. Why should human beings be killing themselves if God loved us this much? That’s a question no one can answer for now. 

Whenever we say, "Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit", we remind ourselves of our responsibility to love for the glory of God. Each time we say Glory to the Father, it is a sign of loyalty and dedication to the love of God in this world. Baptism initiates us into God’s love. Baptism invites us to break the barriers of division and segregation, to embrace the community of life and love among God’s children. God's love adopts us and in turn sends us out as apostles of love. Christ says, "Go into the world, baptize all nations..."  “Remain in my love". We are agents of the Blessed Trinity, agents of Love. We remain in God's love by our affection for one another, for those we meet on daily basis. 

Let us recognize this- creation is motivated by love. Salvation is motivated by love. Pentecost is motivated by love. They are all acts of the Blessed Trinity into whom we are baptized and confirmed. We usually sing in the Psalm, “We are God’s people, the flock of his hands”. 

As people of the Trinity, let us be inspired today to accept one another in love. Let us look out for one another. Let us encourage one another. Let us care for one another. Let us make ourselves instruments and agents of God's glory. Let us open ourselves to the grace of Christ. Let us commune in the love of God the Father, Son and Spirit. Let us always rejoice in the communion of the God who is, who was and who is to come. 

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God the Father, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen".