Pastoral Reflections

Trinity Sunday – 2017

St. Augustine wrote an extensive treatise on the nature and being of the Holy Trinity. There is a story that at one point St. Augustine was walking along the beach while contemplating the mystery of the Trinity. He saw a little boy in front of him who had dug a hole in the sand and was going out to the sea again and again and bringing some water to pour into the hole. St. Augustine asked him, “What are you doing?” The little boy replied, “I’m going to pour the entire ocean into this hole.” “That is impossible, the whole ocean will not fit in the hole you have made” said St. Augustine. The little boy replied, “And you cannot begin to fit the Trinity in your tiny little brain.” The story concludes by noting that the little boy vanished after this exchange, as he was an angel.

There are many events occurring in our world today that may serve to disturb us. We can think of North Korea’s persistent efforts with testing long range ballistic missiles and all the saber rattling that goes along with that. We all are affected by the perennial unrest in the Middle East. We are often distracted and disturbed by the specter of terrorism across the world. We can reflect on the many problems in western society, the growing disrespect for the sacred, and the growing secularization of the world.

Now, let’s consider the opposite end of this spectrum. I am going to ask you to try to imagine the opposite to all of the above. Try to imagine the biggest amount of love that you can. Take a moment and try to imagine the most beautiful, the most perfect relationship that you can. That love and that beautiful relationship exist; they are indeed a reality. I am talking about the love and the relationship that exist between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Each one of us is called to reflect that love and relationship in the world by our example. In the first chapter of the book of Genesis, we read that we are created in the image of God, in other words, we are created to reflect God’s love and relationship to the world. Since our baptism we have come to share in the love and relationship between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in a very special way. We were baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. At the moment of baptism, we were adopted by God as his sons and daughters. So we are intimately caught up in the love between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

At our baptism we inherited a new family. Since baptism we have a new Father, our Father in heaven. We each have a new brother, Jesus, since our baptism. God has a most wonderful plan for each of us, and it begins with the call to reflect the love within the Trinity to the world. To draw us into that beautiful relationship of love in the Trinity, the Father gave his Son Jesus for us. As we heard in today’s Gospel lesson, “God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son...” (John 3:16)

In our first reading God describes himself as “a God of tenderness and compassion, slow to anger, rich in kindness and faithfulness.” (Ex 34:7) God does not want anyone of us to be lost. God created us to have life and have it to the full, which means life everlasting. That is why in the Gospel today Jesus says that he was sent, “so that everyone who believes in him may not be lost.” (John 3:16)

Sometimes people ask, if God is really good, why does he send people to hell or to purgatory. I answer that question like this. God is good personified and he does not send anyone to hell or to purgatory. It is we who send ourselves to hell or to purgatory through our own actions, or lack of acting. As we heard in our Gospel lesson, “No one who believes in him will be condemned; but whoever refuses to believe is condemned already, because he has refused to believe” (John 3:18) We could think of it like this. When you drive by night and meet an oncoming car and that driver does not dim the bright lights we are temporarily blinded for a second or two after the car has passed. When we die, if we are not fit for heaven because of the way we have lived, the light of heaven would be too much for us, it would blind us, we simply could not take it. So to prepare for the light of heaven we have an opportunity after death to love and forgive in the place that we call purgatory. When we are ready for the light of heaven we are called forth.

God wants only what is good for us. As the Gospel today says, “God send his Son into the world not to condemn the world, but so that through him the world might be saved.” (John 3:17) As we reflect today on the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity, that no one can explain adequately, I would like you to think of God’s plan for us. We were created in the image of God and since baptism we share in the love and life at the heart of the Trinity. Truly, how privileged we are!

On TV we often see the honor and glory given to royal families or special dignitaries. Yet their dignity is nothing compared to the dignity of each of us called to share in the life and love of the Trinity. When we reflect on the fact that we so often forget who we really are in the eyes of God, perhaps we should be ashamed of ourselves. It really is a scandal that we forget and do not acknowledge often enough who each of us really is.

Try to imagine the biggest amount of love that you can. Try to imagine the most beautiful relationship that you can. That is the love and beautiful relationship between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Since baptism you are drawn into that love and beautiful relationship at the heart of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Today we reflect on the love and relationship at the heart of the Trinity. Let us be eternally grateful for God’s choice of each of us to be part of his great loving family and experience.

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