Sunday Sermon for June 19, 2011, Trinity Sunday, Year A
Readings: Ex 34:4b-6, 8-0; 2Cor 13:11-13; Jn 3:16-18
In the first reading today we hear about the revelation of God’s holy Name to Moses. Beyond stating His Name, God states that He is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity. The Holy Name of God, I Am Who Am, is certainly mysterious, but it makes clear the truth that God is eternal. He is not the One who was or who will be, but the One who is.
His eternity sheds light on the other aspects which the Lord mentioned to Moses. His mercy, grace, patience, kindness and fidelity are not only eternal with God, but that also means that they are unchangeable. There is never a time when God is not merciful or gracious.
Moses confesses that the people of Israel were a stiff necked people, but begged God to come along in their presence. Moses prays for the forgiveness of the people and asks that the people would be received as God’s own people. This is quite bold on the part of Moses, especially considering the infidelity of the people toward God. However, Moses is simply taking God at His word and asking for mercy, patience, grace, kindness and fidelity.
We all know that God did remain with His people, but He promised a further covenant which would show His love more perfectly. St. John, in the Gospel reading says that God so loved the world that He sent His only Son so that everyone who believes in Him will have eternal life. It is no longer just one nation God has chosen, but all the people of the world. In so doing, the Lord also revealed Himself fully through His Son, Jesus Christ, and through the Holy Spirit promised by our Lord and poured out into those who are baptized in the Name of the Most Holy Trinity.
Since God cannot change, we can consider what He did with the people of Israel and apply it to ourselves as well. We saw earlier the mercy and grace of God, but also that He remained with His people. What is more is that God not only remains with us He remains within us when we are in the state of Grace. This means that He forgives our sins, fills us with Grace, and shows Himself to be kind and faithful, but after all of this, which is already more than we could reasonably ask, He does the unthinkable and gives Himself to us as a gift.
Considering how stiff necked and unfaithful we continue to be, the greatness of this gift is all the more unfathomable. Perhaps if we were truly good and holy we might be tempted to suggest that we deserve to have such a gift, but no one can make such a claim. However, St. Paul, in the second reading, tells us to amend our ways, encourage one another, agree with one another, and live in peace with one another so that the love and peace of God will be with us. Then he goes on to pray that the grace of the Lord Jesus, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit would be with the people.
While the Holy Trinity dwells within us whenever we are in the state of Grace, St. Paul seems to suggest that when we live like the three Persons of the Trinity, i.e., in love, peace, seeking the good of one another, then we will be able to see the Trinity more clearly revealed in and through us. It is precisely our belief in the Trinity that sets us apart as Christian people, but we hear so little about this beautiful mystery. Perhaps it is because we do not live according to the attributes of the Holy Trinity Who dwells within us.
We would be at peace within ourselves and with one another, we would be in agreement with one another, and we would have a true love for one another if we were all at peace with God, in agreement with God, and loving God. If we are conformed to God He will be able to work in and through us in wonderful ways. As it is, we have people of every stripe, clergy, Religious, and lay people who are at odds with the Church and, therefore, with God. It is hard to preach the Gospel of Truth if we are not in agreement with the Truth. It is hard to model the Gospel of love is we are not united with Love Himself. It is hard to bring the life of Grace to others if we are not filled with this Life. If we can conform our hearts and minds to God, the Trinity will not only be with us, but He will be revealed through us in truth, in love and in life.
Fr. Altier’s column appears regularly in The Wanderer, a national Catholic weekly published in St. Paul, Minn. For information about subscribing to The Wanderer, please visit www.thewandererpress.com.