Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity – Year A

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James D. Paradis, O.S.A. 
Church of St. Augustine
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Readings
Ex 34:4b-6, 8-9
Dn 3:52, 53, 54, 55, 56
2 Cor 13:11-13
Jn 3:16-18

Not long ago, during some of the darkest days of the clergy abuse crisis, I remember frequently hearing the phrase, “our church is bleeding.” Now, thinking about the unrest and turmoil we are witnessing in our cities over these last ten days, it seems that our nation is bleeding.

My sense is that this should come as no surprise. It’s a cry of outrage. Outrage that erupts in many ways because it can no longer be contained or covered over. Violence, we know, is never the answer; it only destroys and deepens the hurt. But it is important to understand the simmering rage and humiliation that fuels it. The unrest around us is a cry for respect, for dignity, for justice in the face of seemingly endless incidents of police mistreatment and brutality against African-Americans, the latest of which we saw quite painfully on video in the suffocation of George Floyd on the streets of Minneapolis. It is a cry for deeper understanding and healing of the “virus” of racism in our own lives, personally and structurally, that still exists and prevents the human flourishing for people of color, but also for people of all religions and ethnicities in a just society.

Where does all of this go in us? It has been a heavy and heartbreaking week. We’re in the middle of a global pandemic, confronted with the pain of so many lost lives, grieving and stressed-out families, so many who are newly unemployed and trying to care for their loved ones. But we also see how beset we are by scourges of longstanding division, fear, tribalism and racial inequities. There is such a need for listening, understanding and solidarity. There is a need for peace, healing and reconciliation within and around us. Today, in the middle of all of these challenges, the word of God speaks to us from a space of hope and possibility as we celebrate the Feast of the Blessed Trinity.

At the heart of our faith, we believe that our God is a trinitarian unity of persons – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – in a communion of love. What we celebrate today is not an abstract doctrine nor the image of God, as one theologian described it years ago, as “two men and a bird.” Rather, the Trinity says that our God is loving, healing relationship: an eternal outpouring and receiving of life and love that we are gifted with and drawn into as persons made in the image of God. John’s Gospel today proclaims that gift: God so loved the world that he gave his only Son…that the world might be saved through him. We are saved, we believe, through Jesus’ life, death and resurrection and through the outpouring gift of the Spirit: In this trinitarian life within us, we are saved from our worst selves in turning away from sinful bitterness, bigotry and division. We’re saved to be Good News, sharing the life of Christ’s Spirit through uniting with others in mutual love and works of justice.

The Trinity is a gift that never leaves us. It is the deepest energy within, beckoning us to know the outpouring of God always loving us. But like any relationship, it is not meant to be static. We’re called to open our hearts and minds each day, over and over, to draw new life from the well of God’s restoring love, not only for ourselves but that our life might also flow out to lift up and heal relationships in the world around us. This isn’t an easy task. How do I witness to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit living within me, within each of us? In our second reading, St. Paul challenged the fractured community of Corinthians to do just that: Mend your ways, encourage one another, agree with one another, live in peace and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss.

What we have received as a gift in the sacred Trinity may we live as a gift, especially as we mark ourselves with the sign of the cross, the dear price of God’s great outpouring. May this be a source of renewing life and love for our relationships and for a world that cries out for it so much.