Father THOMAS IDERGARD SJ
Homily for The Most Holy Trinity
Year C: Proverbs 8:22-31; Ps 8; Romans 5:1-5; John 16:12-15
St. Eugenia Catholic Church, Stockholm (English Mass)
Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,
Compared to Christmas and Easter, the solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity can seem abstract. However, every Sunday is actually Trinity Sunday. Not only because we begin the Holy Mass with the sign of the cross placing ourselves in the loving dynamics of the trinitarian God, in whose name we are baptised and pray. But mainly because the Trinity concludes everything we understand about God, creation and salvation.
Everything around us, no matter level of being, is ultimately about communication, self-revelation, or image-making: Atomic and sub-atomic reality with the delicate relations between particles; cells composing living organisms by communication; primitive image-making like a rock forming the ground after a softening rain; simple reproduction by plants, more advanced by animals and super-advanced by humans; all the unique forms of human communication, outwardly projecting created images of our minds; the way that galaxies are held together by particles communicating gravitation. Considering this universal capacity for communication, we can conclude that within the unity of the one God, whom we soon in the Creed will profess as creator, there is something like a play of communication and image-making.
The Father, the primordial ground of divinity, generates a perfect image of himself, his interior word, that unlike a superficial image in a mirror has a mind and personality, is perfect, possesses everything that is in the Father: The Word of God, or the Wisdom of God, as our first reading from Proverbs mysteriously described. As our Creed reveals as “consubstantial with the Father”, i.e. one in being with him.
The Son and the Father look at each other and see the perfection, beauty, goodness and truth of the other, making each one wanting to give himself fully to the other. The perfect love that emerges from this mutual self-giving, binding them together, through a common sigh, as it were, is the Holy Spirit.
The Catholic 20thcentury theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar has called this constantly ongoing drama of love in the Trinity, the Theo-drama, the God-drama. It explains how God can belove and why God creates at all. As a perfect unity of self-giving love, God has everything in himself. But true love wants to be shared. Therefore, God by free will creates the world and us to reflect and join in his love. All other ideas about God fall short of explaining why he would be love. Were he not in himself a community, he might create of boredom, in need of pastime or anything else he fully didn’t have (indicating he wouldn’t be perfect and thus not God). But not of love, which he cannot be and possess unless being relation in himself.
We humans have one, adequate identity: as created in the direct image of God, meaning that we unlike other creatures have the potential to reason, free will and love. From this emerges the human rights, of which the right to life is fundamental. But our identity also has a clear trinitarian connotation. Personhood develops in relation; the “I” arises in relation to a “you”, separate but united in relation. To facilitate human flourishing, good diversity in society, stemming from our freedom to seek the truth, presupposes a unity in relation, i.e. to particular common values advancing the common good.
The nature and purpose of human sexualityis the most apparent, precious, and in today’s culture most disfigured, trinitarian witness. Male and female, with a pro-creative capacity through their complementarity, protected by the indissoluble matrimony and united in one flesh, is the strongest image of life-generating, divine and trinitarian communication. The Biblical emphasis on humans created male and female, unlike what is said about any other creature, shows our sexuality as a vocation to reveal something about God, if expressed according to hiswill, i.e. in the complementary, unitive and pro-creative way for which it was created.
Human unity, as trinitarian image, always presupposes that our inner personal core agrees with our actions. From our family life, via our communities, workplaces etc., this unity spreads, as well as its contrast, unfortunately, like rings on the water. By his command to love our neighbour, Jesus exhorts us to start at home. It is therefore not credible, i.e. the opposite to unity, to lament social divisions in society and at the same time push for divorce. Or to demonstrate against the destruction of the climate and at the same time support the destruction of the unborn child.
God offered the first humans to develop this full trinitarian likeness, by taking part of his loving Theo-drama, managing his creation for him, as described in our responsorial psalm today. But the humans refused. We want to define truth and thus love ourselves. We prefer our ego-dramas. Thus sin, and, with it, spiritual suffering and death, has entered the world as an inheritable faculty within us.
But God never gave up. His stepwise widened salvific covenants were completed by the Divine Son incarnated in the person Jesus Christ, taking all sins and suffering on himself to conquer death and offer everyone who believes reconciliation and restoration as partaker in the Theo-drama. Made possible through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, as we heard in our second reading from St. Paul’s letter to the Romans. Starting here, but with eternal scope and effect. The cross, where the Son incarnate freely gives himself to the Father’s purpose to save us from death as the end, is the direct reflection in space and time of what constantly goes on in the Trinity, beyond space and time.
Jesus Christ established a facilitator for our reception of the Holy Spirit and entering into this eternal Theo-drama. It is not a particular political, economic and social ideology or order. It is the Church. Composed by sinners, unfortunately also horrible sinners, the Church is however holy thanks to the ever-presence of Christ, through the Spirit, as Jesus talks about in today’s gospel; in her seven sacraments and teaching. The Church is the breakthrough of holiness in a fallen world, of eternity in time. The embassy of heaven, the kingdom of God. A body formed by all who share and ever shared Christ’s relationship with the Father in Holy Spirit, and with Christ as her head.
Now we start to understand the importance of the unity of the Church, so that the same means of salvation can be offered everywhere, at all times. I.e. the same sacraments, especially the Holy Eucharist, making the self-sacrificial Theo-drama visible and literally given to us, as well as the same proclamation of Christ and his divine teaching, everywhere. One, visibly united Church, through the structures set up by himself, above all the Petrine office, i.e. the office of the Pope – that is what Christ wants for truedivine love to overflow the whole world.
And dear sisters and brothers, this is why we finally find a decisive and persistent image of the Most Holy Trinity in the visible unity, communion, of different charisms, ministries, personalities and works, in the Catholic Church. Amen.