Sunday, May 26, 2013


My little joke got great laughs the first three times I delivered this homily, but you could have heard crickets the fourth.  So I'll spend this afternoon pondering the great mystery of just what it is that makes a joke funny...

   The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity   C 

A priest asked the catechism class,
“What is the Holy Trinity?” 
A little boy answered very weakly,
“The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” 
“I didn’t understand,” said the priest. 
“You’re not supposed to,” replied the boy.  “It’s a mystery!”

The Most Holy Trinity is indeed a mystery:
the mystery at the very heart of the Christian faith.
But I believe we’ve taken to making the Holy Trinity
even more of a mystery than it already is.

One way we do that
is by keeping the Good News to ourselves.
A recent study shows that 62% of U.S. Catholics
seldom or never share their faith or view of God with anyone else.
We speak about our beliefs at an even lower rate
than Americans who don’t believe in God at all.
In other words: atheists in this country
talk about God more than Catholics do!

We also make the Trinity more of a mystery
by convincing ourselves 
that the Triune God is complicated.
With almost 2,000 years 
of theological reflection under our belt,
we have entire libraries filled with intricate speculations
and a specialized vocabulary of tongue-twisting terms
which most folks can’t spell, leave alone comprehend.
To many minds, when faced with all of this,
God has become a puzzle to be solved,
an abstract idea in need of explanation.
How can 1 + 1 + 1 = 1…and not 3?
Perplexed, we gladly leave not only talking about God,
but even trying to get anywhere close to him,
to the “professionals,” to the “experts.”

The result?  From the same survey…
Less than half—48%—of U.S. Catholics today
are certain that you can have 
a personal relationship with God.
And 29% of Catholics think of God 
merely as some sort
of impersonal superpower 

By sometimes saying too little,
and by other times saying too much,
we’ve managed to make the mystery of God
into a great big question mark…
…and no one is much inclined 
to give his or her time and attention—
leave alone their very life—
to a question mark.

Page around in your Bible a little bit,
look through the ancient Creeds,
the prayers of the Mass, and the lives of the saints,
and you’ll get a very different impression of God
than the one which so many of our contemporaries
have come to accept.

The God of Christianity,
the God revealed to us by Jesus Christ,
the God we preach and confess and adore
not just on this solemnity, but Sunday after Sunday,
isn’t some nameless, faceless energy
existing simply to keep in motion
the massive mechanics of the universe.
No—the God of Jesus Christ is personal.
The God we believe in is so intensely personal, in fact,
that this God is three Persons—a divine Trinity.
And the God of Jesus Christ is also relational
so completely relational, in fact,
that this God is an eternal exchange of love.
And this perfect communion, this perfect unity of love
is not a relationship closed in upon itself;
rather, salvation history is the story
of that relationship spilling over again and again:
God the Father crafting the heavens and the earth out of love,
and taking delight in the human race;
God the Son dwelling among us in human flesh
and dying for love of sinful mankind;
God the Holy Spirit poured as love into our hearts
and guiding us into all truth.

Is the Most Holy Trinity a mystery?  Of course!
But not in the sense that God
is a question to be answered or a riddle to be figured out.
One God in three Persons is a mystery
in the way that the beauty of a sunset is a mystery,
in the way that the birth of a child is a mystery,
in the way that falling in love is a mystery.
You see, the life-changing mystery revealed to us in Christ
is that the All-knowing, All-powerful, All-holy Lord of all things
so desperately desires to draw each one of us into his inner life—
to have a personal relationship with you and with me.

What is man, O Lord, that you should be mindful or him,
or the son of man that you should care for him? (Ps. 8:5)

God loves.
And God wants to be loved.
So simple!  So mind-boggling!
That’s a mystery we can believe in...
...and maybe even one we can begin to understand.

No comments: