The Gospel for May 22nd, 2016: The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity
On this celebration of the Most Holy Trinity, I wish to say a few words about family and truth. God comes to us in three persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. As sons and daughters of this triune God, we inherit the blessing of support from multiple relationships with the divine, much like in families where ideally we are supported by relationships with parents, grandparents, siblings, cousins, and so on. In prayer and worship, we are able to call on the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, each with a unique manifestation of God’s saving grace to meet the particular needs of our petitions at a given moment. Intuitively, this same delegation of response to a family member’s needs happens in effectively functioning earthly families as well. A son may go to his father for advice with a more masculine problem, whereas he may go to his mother for some sympathy that the father may be less suited to give. Perhaps, he goes to a sibling to speak of issues he does not feel his parents can understand due their generational differences. In this correlation between the Holy Trinity and families, there are two key points I find significant for reflection.
First, the Holy Trinity is a reminder of the ever-present accessibility to God’s saving grace in our lives. Whether we feel more comfortable in times of need turning to the Father in prayer, or Jesus in a sacrament, or the Holy Spirit who is near to us at this moment as Jesus’s advocate in the world, we are never alone or far from the divine help we need. There is constancy in faith that comes from the support of the Trinity that may seem impossible to recognize if we try to minimize our Infinite Creator into one person, who at times may appear distant. And like all healthy families, we are enriched by spending some quality time with each family member.
Second, in the relational paradigm of the Trinity, we can better grasp how to live Jesus’s mandate to love others, including enemies, as He has loved us. We grow closer to God as we practice His mission of unselfish love to those around us. For most, this begins when we practice this mission with the family members who surround us daily, whether they are blood relatives or relatives by virtue of their closeness. As we communicate with them, Jesus’s description of the unity of the Trinity is an appropriate guide. About the Holy Spirit’s teaching, Jesus explains, “[H]e will guide you to all truth. He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears…” (John 16: 13). Notice God’s truth is communicated through the Spirit by considering His will and then putting it into words. How often do we use someone else’s moments of need to champion our own selfish values instead of listening well and attempting to be a voice for God’s truth at that moment? Jesus tells us we can trust the Holy Spirit not to do that. Instead, He will speak in unity with the Lord. Jesus tells the apostles:
He will glorify me because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you. Everything that the Father has is mine; for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine and declare it to you (15).
The unity of the Lord is desirable in all our relationships, as it is found in the Holy Trinity. One of my favorite one liners I have picked up from listening to Bishop Robert Barron of the Word on Fire ministry is the Latin expression from Church Father Origen, “Ubi diviso, ibi peccatum,” where there is division, there is sin. If we can practice listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit before we speak in our relationships, I believe we will communicate words that promote the unity of God’s truth. At times, this may be reminding each other of the challenging mandate of the gospel. At other times, this may be providing only words of compassion and support so as not to alienate one who is hurting from sin by passing a judgment that rightly belongs to God alone. As sinners, we do not have the wisdom to know what words are needed. It is imperative that we think first and consider God’s will by turning to the Holy Spirit to give us the words that will speak His truth to all the members of His family.