The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity – In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
June 7, 2020.
This Sunday, we Catholics and most of the Christian Faith are celebrating the Most Holy Trinity. 50 days of Easter ended last Sunday with Pentecost, and this week we have returned to Ordinary time. The readings go back to when creation starts: to the Most Holy Trinity. God has no beginning or end; he created beginnings of everything. As the first words of Genesis remind us, “In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, … Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.” (1:1-3). Even now he is always with us. We remind ourselves of his presence by making the Sign of the Cross and invoking the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit when we begin or end a prayer. The word Trinity never appears in the Bible. But when we were baptized we were claimed in the name of the Holy Trinity. The priest or deacon poured the water and said, “I baptize you in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” From that point, the Kingdom of God was extended to wherever we might be. But why were we baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit? Why not simply in the name of Jesus Christ or in the name of God? We were baptized in the name of the Trinity because we were claimed by all that God is, the fullness of God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit: We are under the protection of the Holy Trinity, the Kingdom, against any assault, particularly the assault of evil.
The Solemnity of the Holy Trinity celebration reminds us that we belong to the fullness of God. Each of the three readings give a glance at one of the Persons of the Trinity. In the first reading from Exodus God came down in a cloud and proclaimed His Name, “Lord.” Or perhaps it was the angelic hosts that cried out, “The Lord, the Lord, a merciful and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity.” (Exodus 34:4b-6,8-9) These are the attributes given to the first person of the Trinity, the Father. The Gospel proclaims that God’s love is so great, that He gave his Son to us to save us from the assault of evil. (John 3:16-18) The second reading from Second Corinthians presents Father, Son and Spirit as St. Paul prays that “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.” (13:11-13)
Early Christians looked to God as undivided Triune God known in scripture and forged the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. Reading the Bible with new eyes, they saw that God was in communion with God’s own self before creation. God is a relationship among Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and then God creates all that is for relationship. The Trinity is not a mystery in the sense of a puzzle we can’t solve. the Trinity is a mystery in that we “see” the truth of it, but there is more than we can fully comprehend. Like the “real” love among humans or even humans and pets is a mystery. We think we know so much about those we love, and yet new occasions arise, there is more to discover in the relationship with our children or spouse or parents. We think we know God by the revelation of scripture, from the way God is revealed in nature, and through that most perfect revelation of God, Jesus the Christ. And yet, there is more than we know – a mystery that is deeper than our minds can fathom.
If we humans preferred to be alone and came together only rarely to procreate and then separate as some animals do, the theory would fall short at this point. But we humans love to get together. This is a lesson learned so well with the current pandemic when we are instructed to be home isolated. We are created to be in communion. Being separated by the coronavirus has not broken that sense of communion. People are finding ways to stay connected: letters, phone, email, FaceTime, iMessage, FaceBook, WhatsApp, Zoom, … Though imperfect, these new ways of “joining together” fulfill our deep longing which is in the very heart of Holy Trinity. Jesus would put it this way: Love God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength and love your neighbour as yourself. This is that for which we were created: love upward toward God and outward toward humankind. When we come to love God more, we get that heart for other people God has, and so love of God draws us to other people. Loving other people fully means seeing them as God sees them, and so loving people can also draw us to God. It is the communion for which we were created. Albert Einstein once commented on how we human need one another: “Strange is our situation here on earth. Each of us comes for a short visit, not knowing why. From the standpoint of daily life, however, there is one thing we do know: we are here for the sake of others. Many times a day I realize how my own outer and inner life is built upon the labours of so many others.”
So, in fact in this time of physical distancing, we are discovering even more about how deep our human longing is for community. We are connected deeply to all creation. That is the essential reality the Trinity helps us to understand. We also live in a society with great divisions and we all know of people who are alone in a time of despair and anxiety. The love we are created to show then must find expression in our reaching out to others in the ways available to us. This is not something we do to earn the favour of the Holy Trinity. Instead, staying in contact with others is part of how God blesses us, letting us be a conduit of grace to those we call, write, and meet with online. The essential truth of God as revealed in the Holy Trinity becomes more urgent in our present moment till total reopen from the pandemic.
This is the first Sunday that all Dioceses in Alberta reintroduce the public celebration of the Holy Mass. But it is Stage 1 and we need to follow straightly the provincial health guidelines: only 50 can attend per mass including priest, lector, ushers, volunteers and each has to sit with social distance from each other. Many of us still may not even be able to “gather” for in-person worship every Sunday because the house is full and there is no place in the “inn”. But as Archbishop Richard Smith of Edmonton said in his May 26, 2020 letter to the faithful, “Even if you are not able to attend a Eucharistic celebration in these early days ….. Soon we shall celebrate Pentecost Sunday, when we commemorate the day the Holy Spirit came upon the apostles and empowered them to proclaim the Gospel. By this wondrous gift, the Risen Lord Jesus remains always with his people, giving us new life and filling us with fresh hope. May the Holy Spirit grant us the grace we need to face this current situation with confidence and charity. I look forward to the day when we can all be together again, celebrating joyfully in our beloved parishes.”