May 31, 2015 + Saint Peter the Apostle Parish Naples, FL
Deuteronomy 4, 32-34, 39-40 Psalm 33 Romans 8, 14-17 Matthew 28, 16-20
The comparison floated through my mind for a long time before I was willing to suggest it publically, and it still seems almost trite to suggest it, but I can’t think of a better way to get some insight into the Holy Trinity other than to propose to you that this feast today is our faith-filled version of the secular/commercial world’s “Valentine’s Day”. I suggest that because this is a feast of love that celebrates a gift we call “grace” and the identity we have as “children of God” and “friends”, as Jesus referred to us during his prayer at the Last Supper. The Trinity is not a theological concept nor a complex philosophical discussion. It is a lived experience of our relationship with God. The first time you said: “Our Father” and meant it, you did so by the power of the Holy Spirit says Paul today in the Letter to the Romans. That Spirit enables us to understand that we are children of God. By that Spirit drawn into this intimacy with God we discover that God is not off in some infinite solitude; but that God is in communion with us giving and receiving light and life.
The real truth about who God is and what Divine Life is all about can only be discovered in relationship, a relationship of love. Through the Incarnation of the Word made flesh, a relationship is established with us, God enters into our life and invites us to enter into God’s life through the Word, Jesus Christ. The entire mission of Jesus Christ was to invite and teach us how to live in love, in unity and in peace. His life of service and reconciliation, healing and forgiveness is the love of God for us gathering in the lost and those left behind. We are the ones he came to gather together. We are the ones he called, friends. We are the ones he cherished most, and to us has been given all that he has as the Son of God.
Our Jewish ancestors in the faith understood this reality very well. Moses describes it for us in the first reading from the Book of Deuteronomy, our Jewish sisters and brothers understand that they have been chosen from all the nations on earth to be a people special to God. They remember their long history beginning with the covenant with Abraham, through their delivery from slavery in Egypt, and into the crossing of the Jordan River into the Promised Land. Because they are a chosen people, they understand that they cannot live the way other nations live. They must live according to the law God revealed to them. They must show forth his justice and mercy by caring for those society casts aside and by turning their backs on all forms of immorality. How can it be different for us who have been called out of the slavery of sin and given the Spirit of adoption? We must live according to the Gospel message so that our dignity as sons and daughters of God can be shown forth to the whole world.
This experience of being drawn into the very life of God begins for us at Baptism as the command Jesus has given is obeyed. Baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit seals our adoption into the family of God. Every other sacrament draws us deeper into this divine life of grace which makes our participation in all the sacraments so very important if God’s life is to be sustained in our own. We bless ourselves day after day, meal after meal, and prayer after prayer because we are holy and chosen ones worthy of the blood of the lamb living with the dignity that is ours as sons and daughters of God.
The Holy Trinity then is not some theological concept. It is no more a “mystery” than love itself. Our celebration in this liturgy today is an occasion to rejoice over what has been revealed to us about God and about God’s action among us through the Holy Spirit. We are chosen, holy, saved, and redeemed by the power of God’s love made manifest in Jesus Christ. Moved and inspired by the Holy Spirit, we can and will know God not as some distant dangerous power to be feared, but as love itself ready to risk everything and give everything for our sake, for our salvation, and for our love in return.