Trinity Sunday

Trinity Sunday

Fr. Joseph Levine; May 30, 2021
Readings: 4:32-34,39-40; Ps 33:4-6,9,18-20,22; Rm 8:14-17; Mt 28:16-20

In today’s 1st reading Moses calls the people of Israel to reflect upon the goodness that God has shown them, drawing near to them, delivering them from slavery in Egypt, and making them to be his own people. From this he concludes:

This is why you must now know, and fix in your heart, that the Lord is God in the heavens above and on the earth below and that there is no other. You must keep his statutes and commandments that I enjoin on you today.

Note well that he did not say that all religions are different ways to God, but that the God who delivered Israel from slavery in Egypt is the only true God, the Creator.

That was the Old Covenant, so now let us paraphrase the words of Moses, applying them to the New Covenant in the Blood of Christ. It is the same God.

“Did anything so great ever happen before? Was it ever heard of? Did a people ever hear the voice of God speaking to them as a man like them, as you did? Did any so-called ‘god’ ever go and become man, born of a Virgin, and give his life on the Cross, shedding his Blood in expiation for our sins, delivering us from slavery to sin and death, and rising from the dead to lead us into eternal life, as did Jesus Christ, the very Son of God? Did any so-called ‘god’ ever reveal to us his inner life, send his Holy Spirit to live in us, and invite us into communion with himself, as did the Lord, our God, the Most Holy Trinity?”

This is why you must now know, and fix in your heart, that the Lord is God in the heavens above and on the earth below and that there is no other. You must keep his statutes and commandments that I enjoin on you today.

In the Collect or Opening Prayer of today’s Mass we gave thanks that by sending into the world the Word of Truth, Jesus Christ, and the Spirit of sanctification, God has made known to us his “wondrous mystery”, that is the hidden mystery of his inner life. This is the mystery of the Holy Trinity, three distinct divine persons, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, each of whom is fully and equally God, and who together are one only God, Creator of heaven and earth. He revealed his inner life to us precisely in order that we might enter into and share that life.

For this we were baptized, that we might be immersed in the life of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Each one of you has an inner life, characteristic of human beings, that consists of thoughts, imaginations, wants, desires, and emotions. You are aware of that inner life and, I would dare say, it is more important to you than anything else in the world; if a person’s inner life becomes intolerable, life itself becomes intolerable.

We can see each other’s outward face, but we cannot know another person’s inner life unless he reveals it to us. We can make guesses, but we cannot know, which is why we can judge another person’s outward actions, but not his inner life, not his heart.

Each person is in some way alone in his inner life, but he should know that God, the Creator, the Holy Trinity, is a witness of that inner life. Indeed, while we are often a mystery even to ourselves, he understands us through and through.

Each person stands alone before God in his heart, but he is not independent. Not only is he dependent upon God – the most fundamental truth that is often hidden from him – but his inner life is shaped by and in many ways dependent upon his experience of life in the world, especially the human world. This is so in part because, just our face looks outwards, we do not first of all perceive ourselves, rather we perceive ourselves in perceiving other things and persons.

A man’s thoughts and desires are often shaped by his physical and emotional needs and his instinctual drives. He often lives not so much in the presence of God, but in the sight of human opinion. He is preoccupied with what others think or might think of him. With greater or less awareness, he develops an interior self-identity in light of ideas and images he has picked up from human society.

Some people have been so abused and dominated by others that their inner life has become subject to that abuse; interiorly they live beneath the eyes of the oppressor. Others are so driven by the lust of domination that they scarcely give any attention to their own interior, but occupy themselves only with how to manipulate, exploit, and dominate others. Others feel themselves interiorly divided, drawn this way and that by their conflicting thoughts and emotions. Others learn some sort of discipline that enables them to attain a sort of ‘peace of mind’.

I would dare say that everyone desires inner peace, but any such peace will be fragile and illusory, unless it is anchored in the reality about which St. Paul speaks in today’s 2nd reading. Only when we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit from Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the gift of the Spirit of adoption, who sets us free from all interior slavery, who bestows upon us and makes known to us the identity of the children of God, who sets us inwardly in the presence of the Father, who is above all and through all and in all, (Eph 4:6) can we discover the true peace that surpasses understanding and carries us into the inheritance of eternal life. (cf. Ph 4:7)

The human soul, which is the root of our inner life, is created in the image of the Most Holy Trinity. God himself generates a perfect, eternal image of himself, it is God, the Son; likewise our soul generates an imperfect self-image.

The image of the Trinity in us is perverted when the soul turns in on itself. Then a sort of unholy trinity results, composed of the soul, the self-image, and self-worship. The soul fashions for itself a self-image that it sets on the interior altar, as it were, and worships as a sort of idol, ordering all things for the purpose of self-satisfaction.

Contrariwise, when through life of grace, the soul opens up to God in faith, hope, and charity, the true image of the Trinity shines forth. Then we can find these three: the soul, raised up by the life of grace, together with her knowledge and love of God. The Holy Spirit, dwelling in the soul, produces the image of Christ, who loves and worships the Father.

The soul that thus turns to God and discovers the Holy Trinity dwelling deep within is set in order, is freed from slavery to passions and to human opinion and has no need or desire to dominate others. A vast interior space opens up in the heart in which the soul is able to receive her brothers and sisters in Christ, to love them, and to show forth that love in word and deed.

The more people turn to God within, the more they will actually be drawn into true unity and peace with each other.

Nevertheless, that relation to God within is nourished from without. The exterior nourishment anchors us in reality and preserves us from the dangers of self-deception. In order to set the soul in order, the Holy Spirit, leads us to baptism and from baptism to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the nourishment of holy communion, and the presence of Jesus in the tabernacle. For his part, Jesus leads us through the Cross to his Father.

The mystery of the Holy Trinity, the mystery of the inner life of God that has been revealed to us, is the mystery of three divine persons, inseparable, who are one only God. We can relate to this mystery in a practical way thinking of the Holy Spirit as ‘God within’, the Son, Jesus Christ, as ‘God made visible’ – the visibility of Jesus Christ, in the Church and in the sacraments preserves us from illusion and self-deception – together and inseparable, they lead us to the Father, ‘God over all’.

So, the Blessed Virgin Mary, full of grace, the beloved daughter of the Father and Spouse of the Holy Spirit, cradled Jesus in her arms, loving him within the divine movement of love coming from the Holy Spirit. Through Jesus and Mary, the light of the Trinity shines forth. Mary has now arrived in heaven, the Father’s house: she was led there by the Holy Spirit living in her heart and there she has been visibly crowned by her Son, seated at the right hand of the Father.

For our part, when we welcome the Holy Spirit in our hearts, sent to us by Jesus Christ, from the right hand of the Father, he moves us to love Jesus Christ, in the Church, in the Holy Eucharist, and in our brothers and sisters. In this way he leads us to the rejoicing company of the saints, who dwell eternally in the bosom of the Most Holy Trinity.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Share

Fr. Joseph Levine graduated from Thomas Aquinas College and after a long journey was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Baker, Oregon. He currently serves as pastor of St. Peter Catholic Church in The Dalles on the Columbia River.

Recent Sermons