June 12, 2022 at Saint William & Saint Elizabeth Seton Catholic Churches in Naples, FL
Proverbs 8, 22-31 + Psalm 8 + Romans 5, 1-5 + John 16, 12-15
This great holy day draws our attention to The Holy Trinity leading us to wonder and reflect on what it means to be made in the image and likeness of God. This day is not an occasion to dig into great theological ideas about three-in-one and one-in-three, or “Undivided Trinity” as the hymn goes. Neither is it a time to study the nature and relationship of Jesus, the one he calls “The Father,” and the Spirit/Advocate he speaks of at the last supper. That’s for classrooms and theological lectures. This is Liturgy. This is a time to praise, to bless, to adore, to glorify and give thanks to God; and we do that best by being who we are as the faithful disciples of Jesus and members of his Church.
This day that comes around every year just after Pentecost exposes our illusion of autonomy and independence. It mocks the pretensions of everyday life and the whole self-centered idea of precious individuality that spouts a silly litany of my body, my private property, my rights, my needs, my interests. It goes on and on and we hear day in and day out.
The consequence of this shallow thinking begins to suggest that “others” are the problem. So, the ego is constantly being challenged and nagged at by “them”. The philosopher, Jean-Paul Sartre said that we do not need the threat of fire and red-hot pokers: “Hell is other people.” Otherness is the enemy.
Yet, “otherness” is at the very beginning. The Trinity is there before creation. In other words, it’s all about relationships, and without relationships, there is nothing. In the beginning was the Word, says the opening line of John’s Gospel, and when the Father speaks that Word and breathes, there is life, and eventually, there we are. This feast and our understanding of the Trinity rests upon our understanding of ourselves as living members of humanity, and in faith, as living members of the Body of Christ. We do not exist alone. We cannot exist, and no one can truly live alone.
The strength of our relationships, the bond we have with each other in trust, in love, and friendship, and in the human family is the biggest part of what it means to be made in the image and likeness of God, because, God exists in relationship and what holds that relationship together is love. Which is exactly what holds a family together. When it is broken or missing, lost or forgotten, there is no family, and when there is no love, there is no image of God.
There is an intimacy about all of this, a kind of unspoken and awesome wonder in which the love of God among us conquers all things. That love holds us up, that love is revealed in joy, and that love renews, restores, and recreates what God began on the first day of creation. We celebrate relationships today because of the Trinity. We celebrate all that holds us together, our stories, our woes, our sorrows, and our joys, and most of all, our faith in God is and always will be, Father, Son, and Spirit. It is a good day to be together, and it will get even better if we reach out to and hold on to those we love and to those who love us.