Trinity Sunday, 7th June 2020
Today, as every Sunday, and indeed every day of our lives we each of us exists to give glory to God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The God whom we adore is ONE GOD and yet He is the God who though ONE is THREE PERSONS and this TRINITY is the ONE who has always been, is now, and ever shall be! And yet He is not three Gods but ONE God.
The Catechism of The Church declares that “God freely wills to communicate the glory of his blessed life.” And this is another way of saying that God wants us to understand the relationship that has existed from all eternity between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
The Church`s perception and understanding of God the Holy Trinity does not define God, but rather reveals God. Other doctrines and mysteries of our faith tell us what God has done in time (the creation, the Incarnation- the taking human flesh of Jesus in the Womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Bodily Resurrection of Jesus from the Tomb, followed just forty days later by His Ascension back to Heaven to be seated at the right hand of the Father and the sending of the Holy Spirit. So it is then that the church does not define God but rather that the Trinity tells us or shows us who God is in eternity.
The great Tertullian, one of the theologians of the early Church explained the Holy Trinity in this way, “God the Father is a deep root, Jesus the Son is the shoot the breaks forth into the world, and the Holy Spirit is that which spreads beauty and fragrance”. That rather flashy, yet very devout, American Bishop Fulton Sheen apparently spoke of the nature of God as being one, like that of water. Water`s chemical formula is H2O and that is its nature. He takes the point forward by asking: Is it possible to have various relationships within that one nature ? and responds, Yes it is. The nature of water can appear most usually as a liquid, but it can also appear solid as ice or as a gas in the form of steam. The nature of all three is identical but their forms are different. Similarly in the our Sun there is substance, light and heat, and yet there is only one Sun.
As we progress through the books of the Bible moving from Old to the New Testaments we find the interplay between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit as God reveals Himself to us so that we can experience the roots of the Father`s love growing into the shoots of the Human Nature of Jesus Christ His Son, resulting in the beauty of fragrance of the Holy Spirit – to tease out Tertullian`s metaphor.
Perhaps the most perfect expression of the nature of God is that “God is love”. Do we not find these wonderful words, spoken by God to Moses on Mount Sinai after he had descended in the form of cloud so that Moses stood with Him there calling on the Lord`s name – the Lord proclaimed, `Lord, Lord, a God of tenderness and compassion, slow to anger, rich in kindness and faithfulness.` Moses, of course bowed down to the ground at once and worshipped. Yet in worshipping he also has the boldness to ask God, `If I have found your favour, Lord, let my Lord come with us, I beg. True they are a headstrong people, but forgive us our faults and our sins, and adopt us as your heritage.`
In the expression “God is love” we discover that love is not an attribute of God, but that it is His very nature!
When we think about love. When a man and a woman fall in love, marry and then through conjugal love conceive and bear an image or images of themselves.
There are a multitude of ways in which we human beings communicate and make images of ourselves. There is conversation, writings, public speaking, the use of media, sharing ideas, impress ourselves upon the minds and hearts of others thereby producing images of ourselves. Just as Jesus is the image and likeness of the Divine Father in His human nature so we too are made “in the image and likeness of God” Remember too that Jesus says to the Apostle Philip, `He who has seen me has seen the Father`.
In the Creed we proclaim, “I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth” and in so saying we affirm that God is the ultimate cause of being of all things. The creation he has made reflects his steadfast love, even more because his nature is Love and because he is a Trinity of Persons there is perfect communication between the THREE in ONE.
When we consider this understanding of the relationship between God and His Creation we can appreciate that the entire physical world and all around it is a mirror of God`s manner of being and a manifestation of His Love.
The Father from all eternity produces the perfect image of Himself which we call the Son – Jesus who took human nature upon Himself in the womb of the Virgin Mary upon her acceptance of God`s invitation through Gabriel his messenger – and she does so by the power of the Holy Spirit who indwells her!
The Trinity is, if you like, another way of saying “God is Love”. The Father is God the Lover, the Son is God the Beloved and the Holy Spirit is the shared love between them.
Remember how in the creation story `God saw all that He had made and it was very good.`
We have only to look around us to see where God`s created order has been soured though sin and humanity`s disobedience, self-will and self-love. God`s communication of love has been interrupted through sin which has led to breakdowns in communication. What did God do to address this breakdown in communication ? We find the answer in this morning`s Gospel passage from St. John chapter 3 verse 16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” And it is this that makes it possible for us to be restored to the kind of communion and communication that God wills for us. The Father is the Creator, the Son is the Redeemer, with a redemption brought about by the Cross, and the Holy Spirit is the Sustainer and Sanctifier. It is the Holy Spirit who indwells us so that from the time of our Baptism we are united with God Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit living in us that is the means of grace and enables us to pray.
It is this relationship that we have with the Holy Trinity that brings about that union which we see in the words of St. Paul in his second letter to the Corinthians (13:11) when he says, `Brothers (and sisters), we wish you happiness; try to grow perfect; help one another. Be united; live in peace, and the God of love and of peace will be with you.