May 26, 2024

The Trinity

The Trinity

Trinity Sunday: 26 May 2024
Readings: Isa. 6. 1-8; Rom. 8. 12-17; Jn. 3. 1-17
Theme: The Trinity

Trinity Sunday, as we celebrate it today, recapitulates the journey that we have been on during the year. It is the moment in the life of the church, when we stand back and consider the big picture, of who God is.

The ‘small picture’ is often portrayed in the acts and words of Jesus as he goes about his earthly mission of preaching the good news of the kingdom of God. In this ‘small picture’, we come to know the second person of Jesus in his public ministry as he heals, proclaims, liberates and is put to death. We come to know the person of Jesus as the Son of God gradually as his identity is revealed to us in and through all the events and words of the New Testament. Once we realize who Jesus is, the doctrine of the Holy Trinity expands this ‘small picture’ into its full context, namely, the revelation of God as the Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. How so? How does this ‘small picture’ lead us naturally into the big picture?

Well, if you think about it, right throughout the gospels we have the underlying question of who Jesus is, bubbling under the surface and sometimes even coming to the boil. We see this clearly today in our gospel, for example, as Nicodemus, the Pharisee, grapples with coming to terms with the true identity of Jesus as the Son of Man. As the events of his life and the words he proclaims unfold in the various narratives of the New Testament, we see clearly that Jesus is the Son of God. He is the eternal Son of the Father. In other words, he comes from that magnificent throne in heaven proclaimed so wonderfully in our first reading from the prophet Isaiah. Jesus is not simply a prophet, or a good man, a leader of his nation, he is the messiah, the Christ, the one who was long awaited by the people of Israel to redeem and liberate them. This messiah is God himself, born in the flesh in the womb of the blessed virgin Mary. In other words, Jesus the person, always was with the Father from all eternity. He is the Son of God who is born to us as the messiah so that the long promised liberation can be inaugurated.
And, in coming to discover the identity of Jesus as the Son of God, we are never far away from the revelation of God as the Holy Spirit. So, right from the beginning of the life of the earthly Jesus we are told that he is incarnate in the virgin by the power of the Holy Spirit. At his baptism in the Jordan by his cousin, John the Baptist, the Holy Spirit descends on him in an anointing as the Father proclaims he is well pleased by the Son. This revelation of God as Holy Spirit is intimately bound up with the resurrection of Jesus as he is raised on the third day by the power of the Holy Spirit and appears to the disciples for forty days. The return of the Lord to heaven in his ascension is accompanied by the descent of the Holy Spirit on the early church, as they now form the body of Christ on earth, called to proclaim God’s kingdom to all the nations.

So, in each and every moment of the revelation of who Jesus is, we are confronted by the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. And this is not by chance, because in acting and proclaiming it is each of the persons of the Holy Trinity who are involved. They work as an intimate team, you might say, in all things. And, they do this because in revealing to us who God is, we are given an extraordinary insight into the very nature of God as Trinity. In so revealing God as Trinity throughout the scriptures, God is revealed to us as the saviour, literally ‘Jesus’, which means ‘the one who saves’. Consequently, in this doctrine of the Holy Trinity, we come to know the God who is totally for us. The very nature of God is to save, to redeem, to love. This nature expresses itself as the saving presence of Jesus as he goes about Palestine proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom of God.

This insight, that the nature of God is Trinitarian, means that mission and identity are one in God. God is the one who saves. His mission expresses his identity, you might say. It is not as if there is a god who also happens to save us. No. The very identity of our God is to save. This is what is meant by John’s proclamation that ‘God is love’. The God of Jesus Christ, manifest to us in the flesh and now in the power of the Holy Spirit alive amongst us is none other than the creator, redeemer and sanctifier of all: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

This means, of course, that as we are made in the image and likeness of God, we must be made in the image of likeness of the Trinity. You might say that as we journey through life and come to know ourselves, we find that rather than discovering some unchangeable essence which demarcates us from others, we come to discover ourselves through our relationships. We are by very nature relational creatures. Just as the Holy Spirit is often called the ‘chain of love’ (vinculum caritatis), so too do we find our identity in the bonds of love that we share with God, our fellow humans, and with all of creation. We are through love, and so when we love, we literally come into being. We become who we are, which is the bond of love which unites us to God and to all things. Our singularity is to be found in the biography of these bonds which always bears the traces of a particular constellation of relationships.

So, as we celebrate this Trinity Sunday, let us rejoice that this same God who has created us and redeemed us in love, has destined us to be one with him in this eternally family of the God, who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.