June 11, 2017

Homily for Trinity Sunday, June 11, 2017, Year A

Fr. René J. Butler, M.S.
Provincial Superior, La Salette Missionaries of North America
Hartford, Connecticut

There is a stained-glass window in Blessed Trinity Church in Orlando, Florida, designed by James Piercey. It represents the Trinity, but is not easy to make out the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. With a little effort one can find the head of a dove near the center, and a hand above and behind it. They represent respectively the Spirit and the Father. It’s much harder to find the Son, a man’s face. Eventually you find the eyes, and the nose, mustache, and lips. But when you see the dove, you lose the face; when you see the face, you lose the hand, and none of them is completely delineated. All three are lost when you focus on colorful rays, which represent the one divine essence of all three Persons and fill the whole image.

This image may not suit everyone’s taste, but I find it fascinating. I use it to illustrate the fact that although we attribute certain qualities and works to each of the divine Persons, as in the Creed, the overlap is such that clear distinctions are really beyond us.

In the Catechism of the Catholic Church (no. 259) we read: “Everyone who glorifies the Father does so through the Son in the Holy Spirit; everyone who follows Christ does so because the Father draws him and the Spirit moves him.” In other words, the whole Trinity is involved, all the time.

In the Scriptures, too, we find this blending. For example, today’s second reading has the familiar text from which we get one of the greetings used at Mass: “The grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Love of God, and the Communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” But there are several passages in the New Testament that speak of grace coming also from the Father, and in one place the Spirit is called the “Spirit of grace.”

Similarly, in many places we read that “God (the Father) raised Jesus from the dead,” while many others say that Jesus rose from the dead, i.e. by his own power. The Spirit is associated with resurrection also in Romans 8:11: “If the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, the one who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also, through his Spirit that dwells in you.”

Here is a very different illustration. The following phrases all have something in common:
Honor, Pity Half-Sister,
A Tiny Fresh Polo Shirt,
Sporty Shiloh Fire Ant.
Can you see it? Answer: All three have the same letters, and all three are anagrams of “Father, Son, Holy Spirit.” When they are spelled out correctly, we see them, but whether we see them or not, there they are.

O.k., but what’s the point? We might think anything so obscure can’t really matter to us at a personal level, something like nuclear physics and splitting atoms and the Higgs Boson. That would be true if the important thing is to understand it. But that is not the case here.

The first reading isn’t even remotely academic when it describes the Lord as “a merciful and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity.” And the Gospel reminds us that “God so loved the world.” That changes everything.

What we are invited to do is to enter into the mystery of the Trinity—to wonder at it, to admire it, to revel in it, sink into it, contemplate its wonder and beauty, and cry out, “O my God!

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