Monday, June 1, 2015
Father, Son and Holy Spirit: Trinity Sunday
(Listen to this homily here).
In January 2011 I had the privilege of studying in the Holy Land with my seminarian classmates. As part of our travels we visited the Jordan River at the location of the Baptism of Jesus.
Try to picture what this place looked like. I had expected a wide stream of crystal clear water and lush vegetation on its banks. When we arrived, I was a bit disappointed. The Jordan River looked like a ditch in northern Minnesota! There was some trash strewn about. Four pillars once stood over the site of John’s work; now they were crumbling.
Yet it was at this place that God manifested Himself as Father, Son and Holy Spirit for the first time in all of history. God the Father spoke from heaven, “This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased”. It was God the Son—Jesus Christ—who was being baptized. God the Holy Spirit descended in the form of a dove.
I remember thinking—this is so God. This fantastic revelation took place in a human place. Indeed, God transcends us, yet is ever close to us. He takes the natural and does the supernatural.
For today, remember that we believe God is one God with three Persons. This is the foundation of our faith. It is also a paradox. If you want to delve into the metaphysics or philosophy of the Trinity, sign up for a graduate level course like I did. (At the end of the semester, our professor gave us one sheet of paper and said, “If you know this, you’ll be fine.” The paper had hundreds of words in size six font and over thirty arrows!)
If you are like me, it may be challenging to picture a relationship with God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It comes more naturally for me to pray to God the Father, or imagine talking with Jesus, my friend. But the Three in One? That can challenge our brains.
The reality, though, is we offer such prayer all the time. This morning I’d like to survey some of the ways in which we pray to our Triune God.
The first way is the most basic staple of Catholic prayer. How do we begin and end every prayer? In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. How many times do we make the Sign of the Cross? Yet think of what we are doing when we connect our prayer to God Himself.
Next, consider how every person is Baptized. Straight from our Gospel today, Jesus commanded: “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…” To this day, this action—baptism in the name of the Trinity—is how every soul enters the Christian faith.
Or what about Confession? After confessing our sins, the priest, standing in the person of Christ, proclaims, “I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
Are you seeing a pattern?
Right now, at Mass, we are entering into our relationship with God. Here’s a fun fact—did you know that I am addressing God the Father at Mass? As I do so, I offer God the Son in Jesus’ Body and Blood. I do so through the Holy Spirit. Which, by the way, is why there is a dove in the apse of our Church—as a sign that what we offer here on earth (Jesus’ Body and Blood) gets to God the Father through the Spirit.
We will also proclaim our belief in the Triune God in the Creed. Listen to what we proclaim as we profess our faith.
Here’s another cool example of our connection to the Trinity that comes in a wedding. Remember, husbands and wives, what you said when you exchanged rings? “Take this ring as a sign of my love and fidelity, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” In so doing, you were allowing your marriage to be caught up in the love of God.
Our faith as Catholic Christians begins and ends with the Trinity. Our prayers, music, worship and sacraments are saturated with God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. While this will always remain a mystery to our human minds, it founds our very lives.
May we be caught up in God’s love—the love of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.