AMDG Homily given in the Holy Name Manchester, 12pm, 22nd May 2016
There is an assumption that every preacher dreads Trinity Sunday – how can we speak about the inner nature of God? How can we talk intelligibly of this ultimate mystery? Human Language always fall short….. but I think that this is an unhelpful attitude because God desires for us to know Him. In Jesus Christ, in the incarnation, in the second person of the trinity – we see that God longs for us to know Him, God longs for us to grow in discovery of Him. This is the great adventure of life ….. Knowing God …… moving closer to that ultimate mystery of being .
As we grow in knowledge of God, that desire to know is transformed into a desire to love God. Knowing becomes loving, curiosity leads us to adoration. I consider the best place, not the only place, but the best place to go on this journey of knowing and loving God, is here in the Catholic Church. If the fundamental task of every human being is to know, love and then serve God than the Roman Catholic Church is the best place to live that adventure as we have so many wonderful guides who have gone before us.
Fr Pedro Arrupe, who was the General of the Jesuits about 40 years ago, talks about this adventure in a beautiful way – “Nothing is more practical than finding God, than falling in Love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, whom you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in Love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.”
This striving to know God has led to the formulation of the doctrine of the Trinity. The Church Father, Tertullian, provides us with the first recorded use of the word Trinity in the third century. God is One and Three: He is not an eternal solitude; rather, he is an eternal love that is based on the reciprocity of the Persons, a love that is the first cause, the origin, and the foundation of all being and of every form of life.
But nowhere in Scripture do we find God calling himself the “Trinity.” However the Trinitarian understanding of God is not something that we have figured out by ourselves. If we ask ourselves “Is this the way Christ spoke?” looking at the stories from the Gospels, we can confidently say – yes. We recognize that we he often spoke of the Father – doing his Fathers business, being with his Father, in today’s Gospel ‘Everything the father has is mine’ and also of sending the Spirit – ‘when the spirit of truth comes’ Today – On Trinity Sunday, we praise God for who he is not merely for the wonders that he has worked. The names that we give to God, names like “All Good” or “Perfect Being,” contain truth but are not complete. Knowing God’s name is an essential part of that journey of our life. And we see how God reveals his nature through the life of Jesus.
So God is three persons – but one substance – consubstantial as we say in the Nicene Creed. This unity is engendered by love, Trinitarian unity, is a unity more profound than the unity of any building stone, it is a more profound unity than in a material sense. This is why unity is so important – and when we damage that unity – through Gossip, through attacking other Catholics, through criticising the Pope, whether through our words or what we write online, even when we refuse to attempt to understand those who are different from us – we are working against that divine unity.
This love than cannot keep to itself, this love which flows out, that breathes the Spirit, is dynamic not static. God in the Trinity is closer to us than our heart beat, and we are called to share in this community of Love. When we look at our community, formed from people from all over the world – who have travelled to study and teach here, to live in this rainy city of Manchester – the ‘communio of the Trinity’ is our touchstone. In a culture that is stretched by globalization and blighted by individualism, we are called to offer a witness of community and in beautiful way of koinonia, of communion. This reality does not come ‘from below’ but is a mystery which, so to speak, ‘has its roots in Heaven,’ in the Triune God himself. We express that communion, sacramentally every day – but also through our living together, our eating and celebrating together, the work we do for the poor.
The more we love like this and the more we share our lives – the closer we come to living this mystery of self-giving and reciprocal love that God offers to us in his very being. If you can help us build up this community you are helping is to contemplate the very heart of God.