Trinity Sunday – Trinitarian Love!
Bottom line: In the Trinity we find perfect love. In the mystery of the Trinity, each Person is an “I” and a “you” without any hint of “mine” and “yours”.
Father Martino Nguyễn Bá Thông (St. Frances Cabrini Catholic Church – Savannah, GA)
Holy Trinity – Year A (2008) – [email protected]
Daniel 3, 52-56 2 Cor 13, 11-13 John 3, 16-18
You may have heard about the American who got lost in Ireland. After driving around the Irish countryside, he finally encountered a native, “Please,” he said, “can you tell me how to get to Balbriggan?”
“Well,” said the Irishman, “If you take the first road to the left…no that wouldn’t do…drive about four miles and turn right…no that wouldn’t do either.” Finally the Irishman scratched his head and said, “You know, if I was going to Balbriggan, I wouldn’t start from here at all.” This Sunday – Trinity Sunday – is about where we have come from and where we are going.
So let begin with where have we, Catholic comes from (and later hopefully we know where are we doing!” A very interesting but good question was posed to me by one young American after her trip to Asia: “Father, why do Christians build churches in cities where there are lots of people while Buddhists build their temples in the forests where there are no people?” That question caught me a by a surprise. Though I grew up in Vietnam I had never pay any attention to it. I thought about the question for a wile and here is the answer I gave to her.
The ways people worship and build their place of worship are based on how their religion was formed! Buddhism was found by a Prince Buddha Shakyamuni of India in the year 64 BC. He saw the pain of human life which includes “Being born, getting old, getting sick and dying,” so he left the kingdom, the friends and the life behind, set out into the forest – into quietness to find a solution for this problem where he experience the “enlighten!” On the other side, Catholic is found through the “incarnation” – the “God becomes man!” or as we heard today from the Gospel of John “God so loves the world that he sent us his only Son!” Not only had the Son of God become one of us, but he also being suffered greatly for us, to save us from the power of darkness! My dear friends, that is were we came from! What about where are we going?
On this Trinity Sunday we look at this passage of John 3:16 from that perspective and what we are given is actually something quite concrete and not at all abstract. Our usual impression of a discussion on the Trinity is something rather abstract and quite disconnected from our ordinary experience. But here in this text, we are not told about the Trinity we are told about the activity of the Trinity—what God does. – And that is where we are going and doing!
And what God does is “to love the world.” He loves the world so much that he sends his Son who gives his life for us, who rises from the dead and ascends to the Father and then sends his Spirit to us. There is nothing abstract here. This is the saving action of God; these are the consequences of his love for mankind.
My dear friends, in order to better understand God, we have to understand the Love that God is! So, let’s talk about love. When two people are in love, they remain two. The person who loves and the person being loved. When we love we do not cease to be ourselves. In a marriage, a husband keeps his personality, a wife keeps her personality. Their goal is to enjoy each other, not to change each other. Love demands an “I” and a “you.”
But the two individuals in love also form a unity. The other side of love is “we” without “mine” and “yours.” In fact, in marriage the words “mine” and “yours” are ice cold words. Ask a married couple about their marriage. If the couple talk of “his” and “hers,” trouble is brewing in that marriage. Love is “we.” The two who are separate becoming one. To attain this oneness requires self giving. To love is to give. Love does not count the cost of the gift, love wants the beloved to treasure the gift. Love never feels put out by giving, love only seeks the joy of the beloved. True love gives to ensure the happiness and well being of the beloved.
In the Trinity we find perfect love. In the mystery of the Trinity, each Person is an “I” and a “you” without any hint of “mine” and “yours”. The Father gives to the Son all that the Father has. The Father says about Jesus, “this is my Son, the Beloved” (Matthew 3:17). And the Son is the perfect son. The Son gives even to death. Jesus says, “not my will but yours be done” (Luke 22:42), and returns all back to his Father. And this love of Father and Son, this love is the Holy Spirit. God is an eternal exchange of love. Three Persons bounded into a unity by love.
Trinity is the perfect model of love. In the mystery of the Trinity, we have a lesson in self giving love. The one-ness of God is his love. God is love. And that is what we are doing! To LOVE and to be LOVED!
To express love, we show not just words but actions! Words without action are sounding gongs; actions without sacrifice and “heartfelt love” are meaningless! So my dear friends, to conclude this homily on the Trinity, I offer you some words and actions. This is nothing new or one of my creation This has been with you since you are little. Let’s do the sign of the Cross together. As we do the sign of the cross, we trace the Trinity on ourselves. We bring God into our minds first. Then we bring the Trinity down to our hearts. And, with our hearts filled with compassion, we move the Trinity across our bodies to our shoulders and arms to better bear the burdens of our family and friends.