In the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit…

[Homily.  Trinity Sunday. 19 June 2022.]

After the celebration of Easter, the Ascension and Pentecost, it only fitting that we celebrate our relationship with God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, the Trinity.  When we recall the Father, what are some of the images of him that we recall from the Old Covenant that lead us to the New Covenant in Jesus and life today in the Spirit??

The Father

The Father is the creator of all in gratuitous generosity, sharing life and freedom in love. 

The Creator-Father deals with the human creature who, deceived by evil, misuses his life and his freedom.  As a consequence of sin, the human being is exiled from paradise into a condition alienated from the Father. 

The Father calls forth his Chosen People, entering into a pact with them:  “I will be your God;  you be my people.”  That includes the narratives of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (who was also called Israel), and Israel’s twelve sons, the youngest of whom was Jacob’s favorite, Joseph, whom his brothers sell into slavery in Egypt.

Joseph thrives in Egypt under the favor of Pharaoh.  In a time of famine the rest of his family are forced to migrate to Egypt, where they too are able to survive because of the mercy and fraternal love of Joseph.  But here it is the really Father who allows his people to thrive in Egypt until, because of their size, they are enslaved by Pharaoh. 

Then the Father reveals himself as liberator.  He raises up Moses to free his people from their enslavement in Egypt.  He frees them from the power of Pharaoh and leads them through the Red Sea to the Promised Land, a land flowing with milk and honey.  But even though he shows the people that he is God for them, the people grumble in the desert and doubt the goodness of the Lord; they say they were better off in slavery.  The Lord teaches them his will from Mt. Sinai, but even in receiving his explicit commandments, the people choose to break them in sin.  The Father wishes to lead his people to their happiness, but they reject his leadership and turn to other gods. 

Already in the Promised Land, they demand that they be led by a human king.  The Father is their Lord, but they reject his rule, and demand a human king.  So God allows them their kings, all of whom, like Saul, are flawed; even the most faithful of them, David, is flawed in his sin with Bathsheba.  His son, Solomon, who is blessed with extraordinary wisdom and wealth, and builds the great Temple of the Lord, eventually betrays his wisdom and end up worshipping other gods.  After Solomon, the one Kingdom of Israel is irrevocably divided into two: the Kingdom of Israel in the north and the Kingdom of Judah in the south.  Through his prophets, the Father tries to counsel the kings to fidelity to him, but their infidelity persists, and what the prophets warn will happen due to their infidelity comes true.  The northern kingdom is eventually decimated by the Assyrians; not long after, the southern kingdom is decimated by the Babylonians.  The humbled people are led into exile where they must suffer for their sins and struggle to remain faithful to their Lord among non-believers.

Working through the prophets and the Persian King, the Father eventually leads his remnant people back to Jerusalem.  He calls for the reconstruction of the temple and the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem.  But things are never the same.  The new Temple is nothing like the glorious Temple of Solomon, and the Jews overlook the rule of their compassionate Lord and long for a political return to the Kingdom of David.  Their liturgy and spirituality decline into fastidious observance of external rules. 

If with the psalmist, the people could pray in their alienation from God, “Oh God, you are my God, for you I long!  For you my body yearns, for you my soul thirsts…”, the Father in the Old Testament even more powerfully yearns for his Chosen People to freely accept his leadership and love in their lives.  He is the Father who waits patiently for his lost son to get up from his misery and return to his Father’s home and feel his Father’s embrace.  He is the Father willing to send his only begotten Son to seek out and save the lost sheep, even if as the Good Shepherd he must lay down his life for his sheep. 

The Son

This was the context of Jesus’ proclamation, “This is the time of fulfillment.  The Kingdom of God is at hand.  Repent and believe in the gospel” (Mk 1:15).   Repent, and believe in the Kingdom of God. In Jesus, the Kingdom of God would be established in his courageous proclamation of it, in its acceptance by some, and its rejection by many.  The Kingdom of God was proclaimed in Jesus setting signs, understood by some, and misunderstood by many, that he and his Father were one, as when he said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life” (Jn 14:6), or “I come to bring life, life to the full” (Jn 10:10).  The Kingdom of the Father was proclaimed when, in the context of a Paschal Meal, he took bread, blessed it, broke it and gave it to his disciples – to us – saying, this is my Body given up for you. This is my blood poured out for you.  The Kingdom of the Father is established in the suffering, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus, ultimately as the Father’s crucified Word of love, forgiveness and acceptance for us, his Chosen People.  This Word of love:  John expresses it profoundly in its cosmic context:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be.  …  He was in the world and the world came to be through him, but the world did not know him.  He came to his own, but his own people did not accept him.  But to those who did accept him, he gave power to become children of God, to those who believe in his name, who were born not by natural generation, nor by human choice, nor by a man’s decision but of God…”

The Holy Spirit

In his farewell discourse before his suffering and death Jesus said to his disciples who were disturbed and anxious at the prospect of Jesus’ going away, “It is better for you that I go.  For if I do not go the Advocate will not come to you.  But if I go, I will send him to you.  He will condemn the world in its disbelief, prove me right in my teachings, and as the Spirit of truth guide you to all truth.”   

Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit in whose wisdom the world was created (cf. Prov. 3; 19-20).   Led by the Spirit, Jesus confronts and overcomes all manner of temptation in order to accomplish his mission (cf. Lk 4:1).  It is this Spirit that Jesus sends to us upon his ascension and glorification in heaven.  The Spirit we see in the account of Pentecost in the Acts of the Apostles empowering the disciples to take their convictions about the Risen Lord beyond the safety of the upper room and to go public:  to courageously preach the good news of salvation in the crucified Jesus openly to all peoples – first among the Jews and the Jewish Christians in  and around Jerusalem, then through Paul, the Apostle of the Gentiles, to the ends of the earth. – even to the ends of the earth at the peripheries of our society today  where people are marginalized, discarded, demeaned, degraded and killed. 

So, on the Feast of the Holy Trinity, when we make the sign of the Cross we sign ourselves with the recollection of the history of our salvation, the history of the Father calling us as his People in love, redeeming us from our sins through the Word of God’s unending love for us on a Cross, and sending us his Spirit that in our lives we might be witnesses of his love.  “Go, …and make disciples of all nations,” Jesus says, “baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” (Mt. 28:19).  

Today, talk to the Father.  Remember, we are his children.  Let him speak to you about his love for you in his Son.  Talk to the Son.  Let him speak to you about the Father’s love for you from the Cross of Jesus.  Talk to the Holy Spirit, let him encourage you in your love for the Father and the Son in this volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world.  Let him strengthen your faith and raise your hope.  Let him continually remind you of how because of your love, the Father and the Son dwell within you (cf. Jn 15:23).  Pause at that incredible truth.  Respond from within with even greater love for your God and neighbor – in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit! 

About Joel Tabora, S.J.

Jesuit. Educator
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