Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity – Fr. Rick Sherman
Dt 4:32-34, 39-40; Psalm 33:4-9, 18-22; Rom 8:14-17; Mt 28:16-20
May 30, 2021
Deuteronomy: Did anything so great ever happen before? Was it ever heard of? Did a people ever hear the voice of God speaking from the midst of fire, as you did, and live? Or did any god venture to go and take a nation for himself from the midst of another nation, by testings, by signs and wonders, by war …
MT 28:18-20 : The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them. When they all saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted. Then Jesus approached and said to them, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”
As mentioned last week, today is the 5th Sunday of the month when we take up a special collection for charity needs in the local area. A special basket is available for your donations. Thank you for being your usual generous selves.
Last week I may have misspoken when I declared that Pentecost was my favorite solemnity of the liturgical year. I guess I had forgotten how neatly sandwiched Trinity Sunday is between Pentecost and next week’s Solemnity of the Sacred Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. These Solemnities all fall right within our return to Ordinary Time, but they re-remind us that the life of true discipleship is anything but ordinary. In fact I like to think of this brief period as the Mystical Season, coming right after Lenten Season and Easter Season.
Today’s celebration of Trinity Sunday reaffirms our belief that there are three persons in one God. Somehow three distinct persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, but only one God. As we have always heard, “It’s a mystery.” I remember growing up in Catholic Schools in the sixties that we were encouraged to not ‘overthink’ the Trinity as it is simply beyond human intellect. Accept it on faith. If they would have told us that there were only two people in one God or even four people in one God, I would have accepted it. I liked the idea of not ‘overthinking’ it. Just give me the answer, I’ll remember it, and then on to something else more interesting.
It was probably not until I was in my early thirties that the relational significance of the Trinity became particularly meaningful. By that time I had been more or less in the dating pool for over ten years and was realizing how consuming relationships could be and how demanding and complex was the idea of commitment, especially in an era where all the traditional expectations of men and women were being questioned and tested. If everyone was encouraged to pursue their own interests and to follow their own star, what was really the point of two people ‘becoming one’ if both were pulling their own direction. What should have been obvious from the start, became more of a practical reality: A relationship needs a well-defined goal. The goal must be much bigger than the individual pursuits. Couples need an agreed upon higher Truth in order to avoid hashing out the same old issues. I came to the conclusion that a couple really should be the same religion. This is a brilliant ‘baby boomer’ insight, folks. That forced me into a deeper re-discovery of the idea and need for sacraments: In fact God’s purpose for the human race is as big as God Himself. It’s bigger than dual income, health insurance, access to beautiful views and outback hiking. It’s even bigger than sex.
The Gospel today spells it out this higher purpose pretty clearly. “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, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” This is a very big thought and one that did not ever come up in the early stages of dating or relational compromising, but it is really the barometer for happiness and true tranquility in a relationship. Knowing our true purpose and destiny as nation- teachers and Kingdom-builders is essential to sustainable love.
We recall that we are all made in the image and likeness of God. So if God is a Trinity, what does that mean to us? Well, God as three persons is always in a relationship. In fact God IS a relationship. So if God IS a relationship, then so are we. There is no such thing as an individual Christian. By our baptism we become parts of the same Body. We can’t function without the other parts.
In the Eucharistic prayers at Mass we proclaim that we are a people in the very process of becoming one. Today’s prayer (# III) reads “Grant that we who are nourished by the Body and Blood of your Son and filled with his Holy Spirit, may become one body, one spirit in Christ.” This is a movement toward a more Trinitarian relationship and Trinitarian identity.
Trinity is a family. In a reasonably healthy family, members share their triumphs and struggles and failures and milestones and heart breaks and break throughs.
If one member is on the state championship track and field team the sprinter is not left to himself while the rest of the family says, “How nice, now sit down and watch TV with us.” Or if one member suffers an illness or relationship struggle, usually the whole family helps to bear the struggle. One birthday party is everyone’s birthday party! When we are emotionally and spiritually bonded, there is simply not a clear distinction or separation between our experiences. We are one. Again, this is the type of shared experience, and more, that we are called to in the Eucharist when we declare that we are becoming ONE BODY, ONE SPIRIT in Christ. This shared sense of oneness is in turn shared with the world outside the church doors as we are sent forth at the end of Mass.
Each member of the family, each member of the Body, is given certain charisms from the Holy Spirit in order to build up the Church and to in turn build up the Kingdom of God; to go forth and teach the nations. These are all words and phrases that we are used to hearing in our Church, but putting them all together in some type of practical context that actually fits into our day to day lives is what seems to allude us. We simply need to enter into this sacramental, transcendent, even mystical experience to be the nation-teaching people that Jesus has called us to be.
This weekend especially as we honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice to defend our freedoms and values, we should reflect on the true state of the unity of our United States. Our closing hymn today will be America the Beautiful which includes the lines: “America, America, God mend thine every flaw. Confirm thy soul in self-control, Thy liberty in law.” This requires a real commitment to oneness.
This week let’s take some time to consider how the Trinity actually speaks to your day to day experience. Maybe reach out to a member of your faith community and have that discussion with them.
Let us now go forward with our deeper commitment to become one Body, one Spirit in Christ.