Trinity Sunday B: Homily by Fr. Matthias Lusembo
THEME: THE HOLY TRINITY.
Objective: That we may be united like the Holy Trinity
Today’s second reading taken from St. Paul’s second Letter to the Corinthians (13: 11-13), contains the ancient apostolic blessing in the name of the Holy Trinity: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.” Paul reminds the people of the Father’s love, the grace that comes through Jesus Christ and the fellowship or the unifying power of the Holy Spirit.
Today’s Gospel (Jn 3: 16-18) comes from the story of Jesus’ encounter with Nicodemus. Jesus speaks about the Father who has sent him (the Son), and after the Last Supper, He speaks about the Holy Spirit Whom he will send (Jn 14:15-17). He says that the Father has given him (the Son) all that He has and that Jesus, 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.
While the Old Testament gives only a hint on the Holy Trinity (“Let us make man in our own image” Gn 1:26), there is a clear doctrine of the Trinity in the New Testament:
1) The Annunciation (Luke 1: 26-38), describes how God the Father sends the Archangel Gabriel to Mary to announce to her that God the Holy Spirit, will “come upon” her, that “the power the Most High will overshadow” her, that the Son will be made flesh in her womb: “Therefore, the Child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.”
2) During the baptism of Jesus (Matthew 3:16-17), the Holy Spirit is shown descending on Jesus in the form of a Dove, while the Voice of God the Father is heard from the clouds, saying, “You are My Beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased”
3) John (Chapters 15 through 18), presents the detailed teaching of Jesus on the Persons of the Holy Trinity.
4) In the preaching mission given by the risen Lord to the disciples, Jesus commands them to baptize people “in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” (Confer Matthew 28:19; John 10:30).
The mystery of the most Holy Trinity is a basic doctrine of faith in Christianity. It teaches us that there are three distinct persons in one God, sharing the same divine nature: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Our mind cannot grasp this doctrine which teaches that 1+ 1+ 1 = 1 and not 3. But if we consider the Holy Trinity to be a one divine substance, like one sugar, plus one sugar, plus one sugar, equals one sugar, we can get an idea of who the Holy Trinity is. We may also think of water which proceeds from hydrogen and oxygen, like the Holy Spirit who proceeds from the Father and the Son. As long as you have water, the three (water, hydrogen and oxygen) are one.
St Patrick, the missionary patron saint of Ireland, compared the Holy Trinity to a shamrock. The shamrock is a leguminous herb that grows in marshy places. Its trifoliate leaves look like one but it clearly has three parts, like one God in three persons: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
St. Cyril used the sun as an example. He said, “God the Father is that blazing sun. God the Son is its light and God the Holy Spirit is its heat — but there is only one sun. So there are three Persons in Holy Trinity but God is One and indivisible.”
We have the Father who is the creator, Son the redeemer and Holy Spirit the sanctifier and counselor.
We believe in this mystery because Jesus who is God taught it clearly, the evangelists recorded it, the Fathers of the Church tried to explain it and the Councils of Nicaea and Constantinople defined it as a dogma of Christian faith. “There is one God, who has three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Each person is God, yet there is still only one God” (Catechism of the Catholic Church #234, #253-256).
1) All prayers in the Church begin in the name of the Holy Trinity and end glorifying the Trinity.
2) All sacraments are administered in the name of the Holy Trinity: we are baptized, confirmed, anointed, our sins are forgiven and our marriage blessed in the name of the Holy Trinity.
3) We bless ourselves, and the priest blesses us, in the name of the Holy Trinity.
We may ask ourselves like one Italian asked his interviewer: Why are we struggling to understand the sum and unity of persons in the Trinity? Are we the ones to feed them? Understanding the sum and unity of the Trinity is important, because, in John 17:20-22, Jesus prayed to his Father that his disciples may be one as he and the Father are one.
God the Father and the Son are united in generating the Holy Spirit and in creating and saving human beings. Through baptism, we are taken into God’s family, the divine communion of persons to be one with God for ever. God’s intention is to draw all people of different religions and races back to himself and to make them realize that they all belong to his family, and therefore they are brothers and sisters expected to live in love as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit love one another.
Unity of love is still lacking between and within some nations, societies, religions and family members. At each of these levels, there is need to acknowledge the equality of persons in the human nature. Superiority and inferiority complexes have to be eliminated, so that citizens or society members or family members can sit at a round table, discuss issues and agree out of love instead of dictating or fighting. This is the purpose for understanding the Holy Trinity and the Holy Communion which we receive. So, let us be united like the Holy Trinity.
We are created in love to be a community of loving persons, just as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are united in Love. From the day of our Baptism, we have belonged to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. How privileged we are to grow up in such a beautiful Family! Hence, let us turn to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in prayer every day. We belong to the Family of the Triune God. The love, unity, and joy in the relationship among the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit should be the supreme model of our relationships within our Christian families. Our families become truly Christian when we live in a relationship of love with God and with others.
The doctrine of the Blessed Trinity challenges us to adopt an “I-and-God-and-neighbor” principle: “I am a Christian insofar as I live in a relationship of love with God and other people.” Like God the Father, we are called upon to be productive and creative persons by contributing to the building up of the fabric of life and love in our family, our Church, our community, and our nation. Like God the Son, we are called upon to reconcile, to be peacemakers, to put back together that which has been broken, and to restore what has been shattered. Like God the Holy Spirit, it is our task to uncover and teach Truth and to dispel ignorance.
May the Holy Eucharist awaken in us the Trinitarian love and collaboration which we celebrate today! Let us all be united in eliminating all injustices that are destroying our peace.