Homily for the Solemnity of the Holy Trinity 2019
Proverbs 8:22-31 || Romans 5:1-5 || John 16:12-15
Today is the Solemnity of the Holy Trinity. So, it’s appropriate for us to reflect on what it means for God to be a Trinity… to be Three Persons in One. What does that signify about the Catholic understanding of God? And what does that understanding of God mean for you and me and the way we go about our daily lives? Is it all just high theology appropriate for universities, or does it have implications for all of us?
The Trinity – the Father, Son and Holy Spirit – exemplifies one of the most important aspects of God. God is relational. Our God – even within His own existence – is a relationship between three persons. And the most powerful force flowing between these three persons is love. The Father begets the Son eternally out of love. The Son loves the Father, worshipping Him and doing his will. And the Holy Spirit is that force of love between the Father and the Son that reaches out to us as the Paraclete, a word that means helper. The Holy Spirit is here to help us as an expression of the love of the Father and Son for us… a helper that descends upon the Church like a dove, empowering us with the grace to love God and love each other.
But the kind of love we are talking about is a particular type of love. It’s not romantic love. It’s not the commonplace love between siblings and friends. And it’s not the love expressed in sappy greeting cards or overly-emotional songs or sentimental movies that make us cry. It’s a sacrificial love. St. Thomas Aquinas tells us that Christian love is willing the good of the other. At its deepest level, it is the kind of love that compels a person to risk everything for another. It is the kind of love we see on the cross.
Contemplating the cross can help us understand this love. The pain… the suffering… the utter dying to oneself… the complete giving of all you have for someone else… this is love that animates the Trinity.
The saints offer us so many examples of this kind of love. Consider – for a moment – Maximilian Kolbe. Kolbe was Franciscan priest imprisoned at Auschwitz. When another prisoner escaped, the commandant ordered that 10 Polish inmates be chosen at random and executed. One of the men selected – a sergeant in the Polish army named Franciszek Gajowniczek – pleaded for mercy saying that he had wife and two children who needed him. Father Kolbe stepped up and said, “I am a Catholic priest from Poland; I would like to take his place, because he has a wife and children.” Father Kolbe went to his death, and because of his sacrifice, Franciszek Gajowniczek survived to see the end of the War and be reunited with his family.
I suspect – thankfully – that none of us here will be called upon to make that kind of sacrifice. But, there are a lot of little deaths – little martyrdoms – that all of us will be called upon to go through as we express our love for others. We experience this perhaps most profoundly in our family relationships. Parents sacrificing to raise children. Children sacrificing to support elderly parents. Siblings reaching out to help one another. The family itself is a kind of Trinity. Several persons bound together in a relationship of self-giving love.
When we contemplate the mystery of the Trinity, we see a God who calls us into relationship with Himself and with everyone around us, because the very existence of our God is grounded in the communication… the expression… the everyday living out of a deep, selfless, giving of love to the other person. So, I would invite all of you this week to consider how you might live out this life of self-giving love with your family, friends, you coworkers – with whomever God puts in your life.