Holy Trinity – Year B
Feast of the Trinity or Tribune God (Cycle B)
I was in Philadelphia for meetings and remembered a story about Fulton Sheen in Philadelphia. Bishop Sheen was scheduled to speak at the Town Hall and decided to walk from his hotel. Sure enough, he got lost and stopped some teenagers to ask for directions which they happily gave him. Then one of the teenagers asked Sheen, “What are you going to do at Town Hall?’ and Sheen replied, “I’m going to give a lecture.” “About what?” asked the teenager. “How to get to heaven. Do you want to come along?” And the teenager responded, “Are you kidding? You don’t even know how to get to the Town Hall.”
Let me share a story about a youngster who wanted to meet God. He imagined it was a long trip and so he packed his book bag with Twinkies and soda cans and started his trip.
When he had gone about three blocks, he met an old man sitting in the park and staring at some pigeons. The boy sat down next to the old man and opened his book bag. He was about to take a drink of soda when he noticed that the old man looked hungry, and so he offered him a Twinkie.
The old man gratefully accepted the Twinkie and smiled at him. He smiled so beautifully that the boy wanted to see it again, and so he offered him a root beer. Again, the old man smiled at him. The boy was delighted! They sat there all afternoon eating and smiling, but they never said a word.
As it grew dark, the boy got up to leave, but before he had gone more than a few steps, he turned around, ran back to the old man, and gave him a hug. The old man gave him his biggest smile ever.
Now when the boy went home, his mother was surprised by the happy look on the boy’s face. She asked, “What did you do today that made you so happy?” And he replied, “I had lunch with God.” Meanwhile, the old man, also happy, returned to his home. His son was stunned by the look of peace and happiness on his father’s face and asked, “Dad, what did you do today that made you so happy?” He replied, “I ate Twinkies in the park with God.”
The point of the story is this: Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, a genuine compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. People come into our lives for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. We can show people the face of God by a gesture: a smile, a kind word, a compliment and so on.
Today we celebrate the feast of the triune God, the fundamental and distinctive truth of Christianity: one God in three; or, to rephrase it, the God of this universe became flesh in Jesus of Nazareth and lives in our midst by the power of the Spirit. Yes, one God in three.
Now when you hear the word “God,” what do you immediately think of? A God of do’s and don’ts, a God of thunder and lightning? The scriptures give us many splendid images of God. The Jewish scriptures speak of God as a walking companion, a God who is as tender as a mother. “Can a mother forget her child? And even if she should… “I will never forget you.”
These scriptures also speak of a God who wants to share his divine wisdom with us. In the New Testament the image of God in the parables of the Good Shepherd and the Prodigal Son are balanced with the image of God in the parable of the last judgment. Yes, there are many splendid biblical images of God—but all these images fail to capture fully the inexhaustible reality of God.
Now the Word of God, just proclaimed, takes us back to Moses who poses a series of rhetorical questions about God to his fellow Hebrews. God has appeared to the Hebrews, Moses says, as a creator, as a worker of signs and wonders and as a loving parent. And this God promises peace and prosperity if the Hebrews will be faithful to the covenant God made with them. Paul in his letter to the Romans speaks about our new relationship with God through Jesus Christ: we are sons and daughters of God and heirs to the kingdom of God. And in the Gospel according to Matthew, Jesus sends us forth to continue his saving work: In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
The mystery of the triune God (a God completely beyond and yet completely within, one as well as diverse, dynamic as well stable), a God of relationships, invites us to ask ourselves: What kind of a relationship do we have with God?
Most people do have a relationship with God, perhaps more subconscious than conscious. And why do? Because we are forever trying to find answers to those fundamental questions of human life that people often ask in moments of crisis, for example, the early death of a parent, spouse or child, a life threatening illness, a broken marriage, the loss of a job or savings, misunderstandings in family life and so forth. In moments such as these, people often do ask the most fundamental questions. Does my life have meaning? What is the purpose of my life? Where is my life going? Does anyone care what happens to me? These are religious questions.
As we grow older, we may begin to wonder about our own lives. We appear to have accomplished so little and now it is almost over. What was my life all about?
Moreover, life seems to be filled with so many senseless tragedies— murders in our streets, mindless violence in the Middle East, international terrorism, and natural disasters like the disappearance of Air France over the Atlantic.
But we also have those occasional experiences that shake us out of our dull routine—moments that make us wonder. A starry sky at night, the smell of spring, the joy of a friendship, the golden rays of a sunset, the accomplishment of a goal. Such experiences can lift us out of ourselves into the presence of a power beyond us. We begin to experience the transcendent dimension of our own lives.
Yes, we say, there must be a power beyond us, a purposeful, gracious and compassionate God who is responsible not only for this magnificent universe of ours but also for our own very lives.
Catholic Christianity says that this power beyond ourselves is indeed a gracious and compassionate God who can heal the brokenness of human existence. This God became flesh in Jesus of Nazareth, was crucified, risen and is alive in our midst by the power of the Spirit. And that is indeed the mystery of the triune God; one in three; Father, Son, and Spirit.
This triune God empowers us to reach out in love to others with compassion, forgiveness, a smile, a kind word, a helping hand and in reaching out to others this way, God empowers us to reach up to God. And just as God showed us his face in Jesus of Nazareth, crucified and risen, and alive by the power of the Spirit, God asks us to show the face of God to one another with a smile, a kind word, a compliment and a helping hand.