This is Holy Trinity Sunday. Here is my homily for the day.
Last Tuesday night my brother Jack and I lingered on at the end of the wake so that we were alone with dad. Jack leaned over and kissed dad in the coffin and said “Dad knows the great secret by now!” What he was referring to was the great mystery of what happens after we die. Jack is a very practically minded business man and we rarely have philosophical or spiritual discussions. His statement however reveals that this all-important question is especially relevant at the death of loved one.
So what do we as Christians believe about this great secret? Well, we big to differ with atheists who say that the Universe is some sort of accident, that we are meaningless biological tissue that fizzles out of existence after a relatively short life span. Rather our belief is expressed by the first two questions of the Old Catechism: Who made me? God made me. Why did God make me? To know him, love him and serve him in this life and be happy with him forever in the next.
Today we celebrate God revealing himself as a family of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Just as we are the fruit of our parents’ love and called to share their lives, so in the bigger picture, God created us in love to be sons and daughters in his family. We join this family of the Church with baptism and after living a holy life, we graduate to the Communion of Saints in heaven. It should come as no surprise that our family lives are so important given that God is himself a family of persons. Earthly life is ultimately patterned on spiritual / heavenly realities.
In the second reading today we were given counsel about how to live charitably within the larger Christian family: “Brothers, we wish you happiness; try to grow perfect; help one another. Be united; live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with the holy kiss.” We can take this as homework for the coming week!
A big question presents itself: How do we enter into this great secret/mystery at the heart of human existence – to know, love and serve God in this life and be happy with him forever in the next?
The gospel tells us the one thing that is more important than anything else. We must BELIEVE IN JESUS, have a trusting confidence in him as our loving Saviour and Good Shepherd. This can be compared to the childhood trust I had in dad to take care of all my material needs. To quote John 3:16, the most quoted verse of the New Testament: “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son so that whoever BELIEVES in him may not perish but have eternal life.”
Believing in Jesus is so important because it brings to us the infinite merits of the sacrifice of Calvary. When St John says that God GAVE his only Son, it suggests strongly that God gave his Son as a sacrifice for sin. In the Mass we speak about Jesus as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. When our sins are atoned for, then we can be reconciled and united with God.
In summary: The great secret of human existence is that God make us to be his sons and daughters, both in time and in eternity. The most important way to fulfil this wonderful destiny is to believe in Jesus.
This is some extra information on the Holy Trinity that I put into the newsletter.
The Holy Trinity (from YouCat):
Is Jesus God? Does he belong to the Trinity? Jesus of Nazareth is the Son, the second divine person mentioned when we pray, “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Mt 28:19). Jesus was either an imposter who made himself Lord of the Sabbath and allowed himself to be addressed with the divine title “Lord” or else he was really God. The scandal came when he forgave sins. In the eyes of his contemporaries, that was a crime deserving death. Through signs and miracles, but especially through the Resurrection, his disciples recognized who Jesus is and worshipped him as Lord. That is the faith of the Church (#39)
Do we believe in one God or in three Gods? We believe in one God in three persons (Trinity). “God is not solitude but perfect communion.” (Pope Benedict XVI, May 22, 2005). Christians do not worship three different Gods, but one single Being that is threefold and yet remains one. We know that God is triune from Jesus Christ: He, the Son, speaks about his Father in heaven (“I and the Father are one”, Jn 10:30). He prays to him and sends us the Holy Spirit, who is the love of the Father and the Son. That is why we are baptized “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Mt 28:19). (#35)
Can we deduce logically that God is triune? No. The fact that there are three persons (Trinity) in one God is a mystery. We know only through Jesus Christ that God is Trinitarian.
Men cannot deduce the fact that God is a Trinity by means of their own reason. They acknowledge, however, that this mystery is reasonable when they accept God’s revelation in Jesus Christ. If God were alone and solitary, he could not love from all eternity. In the light of Jesus we find already in the Old Testament (for example, Gen 1:2; 18:2; 2 Sam 23:2), indeed, even in all of creation, traces of God’s Trinitarian Being. (#36)
What is grace? By grace we mean God’s free, loving gift to us, his helping goodness, the vitality that comes from him. Through the Cross and Resurrection, God devotes himself entirely to us and communicates himself to us in grace. Grace is everything God grants us, without our deserving it in the least. “Grace”, says Pope Benedict XVI, “is being looked upon by God, our being touched by his love.” Grace is not a thing, but rather God’s communication of himself to men. God never gives less than himself. In grace we are in God. (#338)
What does God’s grace do to us? God’s grace brings us into the inner life of the Holy Trinity, into the exchange of love between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It makes us capable of living in God’s love and of acting on the basis of this love. Grace is infused in us from above and cannot be explained in terms of natural causes (supernatural grace). It makes us—especially through Baptism—children of God and heirs of heaven (sanctifying or deifying grace). It bestows on us a permanent disposition to do good (habitual grace). Grace helps us to know, to will, and to do everything that leads us to what is good, to God, and to heaven (actual grace). Grace comes about in a special way in the sacraments, which according to the will of our Saviour are the pre-eminent places for our encounter with God (sacramental grace). Grace is manifested also in special gifts of grace that are granted to individual Christians (charisms) or in special powers that are promised to those in the state of marriage, the ordained state, or the religious state (graces of state). (#339)