Life on the Chrism Trail

Homily for the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

May 30, 2021
St. Patrick Cathedral
Fort Worth, Texas

Deuteronomy 4:32-34, 39-40
Psalm 33:4-5, 6, 9, 18-19, 20, 22
Romans 8:14-17
Matthew 28:16-20

Walker Percy, a doctor turned novelist and a Catholic convert, wrote what he called the last self-help book, and entitled it Lost in the Cosmos. In it he muses about us who spend huge amounts of money to attempt to communicate with animals and who spend even more money on equipment to attempt to communicate with extraterrestrial beings. Meanwhile, we spend little or no time communicating with God or with each other, even if we consider ourselves faithful believers. We might even ask if we have anything meaningful to say to one another. Our relationships with each other, not to mention God, are impoverished.

Modern science often contributes to this impoverishment by the questions it raises as substitutes for the questions it does not raise but about which every human person wonders — the questions of faith and philosophy. Is our world subject to impersonal forces… did it just accidentally come into being, and will it just as easily disappear? Did we come into being because of some original amoeba or protons, neutrons, and electrons coming together randomly in the right way at the right time and place? Do our lives have a purpose or not?

Moses had an answer that is revealed to us in the questions he asks: Did anything so great ever happen before? Did a people ever hear the voice of God speaking from the midst of fire as you did and live? For Moses, God had a voice and was protector and guide. St. Paul tells us that we are not slaves but sons and daughters of an all-loving Father. God speaks and manifests Himself in speech. He speaks to us in the world and beings He has created, but most clearly in His Son. Jesus through His words, His deeds, and His gift of the Holy Spirit reveals to us that God is Trinity.

How do we understand this in a way that makes sense to us? The Trinity can never be fully understood because it cannot be discovered in the way that we are able to reason to the existence of God or the discovery of the physical causes of elements in our universe and within the ecology of nature. The Holy Trinity can only be revealed to us through faith and through this faith it remains for us a mystery that we must live. By faith we come to know that at the heart of all reality, the reason anything exists at all, is the Holy Trinity. The Trinity is a community of loving and being loved, of knowing and being known, of the three persons of the one Triune God. When we live the love of Christ, we enter the mystery of the Trinity. We are most clearly reminded of this whenever we begin our prayers by invoking the name of the Trinity while gesturing the Sign of the Cross. For us human beings, the only entrance into the mystery of the unfathomable love of the Holy Trinity is through our share in the sacrificial love of the cross.

Through our Baptism in the name of the Trinity (the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit) we have been entrusted with that work as our inheritance as the children of God. Some of us may hesitate at the thought of baptizing the world since we may not be that excited about being disciples, and, after all, isn’t everybody’s faith their own business? Is what Jesus asks of us really that grandiose or difficult? He is not necessarily asking us to leave home and family and friends, but to begin with the world around us. Small and almost unnoticeable things like a moment of patience, a helping hand, an encouraging word or gesture, can grow into a desire to serve others, a passion for justice, and the compassion to forgive. The challenge to change the world calls for a decision to live my life, not for myself, but for others. As Saint Therese of the Child Jesus counseled, “True charity consists in bearing all our neighbor’s defects — not being surprised at their weakness but edified at their smallest virtues.”

Walker Percy ends his self-help book with a science fiction tale. Spaceship Earth receives a persistent message. Do you read? Do you read? Are you in trouble? How did you get in trouble? Have you looked for help? Did help come? Did you accept it? What is the character of your consciousness? Are you conscious? Do you have a self? Do you know who you are? Do you know what you are doing? Do you love? Do you know how to love? Are you loved? Do you read me? Come back… repeat: come back, come back. Our celebration of the Holy Trinity is never forgetting who we are … where we came from and where we are going. It is a celebration of the Love that gives us life, and the Love who calls us back home.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

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