Sunday, June 19, 2011

Communion of Persons

Homily from the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity - Year A

One of my seminary professors threatened my life once.  He said, “If I ever hear that on Trinity Sunday, you said in your homily that the Trinity is a “mystery” we can’t understand and say nothing more, I will hunt you down like the dog that you are and destroy you!”  He lives only three hours away, so I never know when he might sneak into the back pew so here goes.

My dad loves to golf.  He’s one of those guys, if you ask him what he did five minutes ago, he doesn’t have a clue.  But you ask him how his round of golf went and he knows every single shot from memory.  After a great round he can’t just keep it to himself.  He has to tell someone about it.

I love the movies.  Whenever I see a great movie, the first thing I do is I gotta tell someone else about it.

Same thing with food.  When you take a bite out of something amazingly delicious, what’s the first thing you say to the person sitting next to you?  “You touch my food and I’ll stick this fork in your ribs.  Hopefully not. I think most normal people say, “Oh my goodness this is so good; you’ve got to try this.”

We have a natural inclination to want to share the things we love.  “You’ve got to read this book.”  “You’ve got to go to Arizona.”  “Let me introduce you to my mother-in-law.”

OK, maybe not that one.

That’s the nature of love.  Love cannot remain in isolation.  The nature of love is that it must be shared; it must be given to another.  Love “unbottles” itself as it were.

That’s the nature of God too.  After all as the Gospel of John states, “God is love.”  God cannot remain in isolation.  The very nature of God is that He must share Himself; He must give Himself to another.  God “unbottles” Himself.

And He does this in so many ways, but today, let’s consider two.  First, God unbottles Himself within Himself.  If God is love, He would not make sense if He were alone, so to speak.  So He isn’t alone.  God is such a perfection of unbottled, unbridled love that He isn’t just one Person, He’s three: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  God is a communion of persons. A communion of love.  God shares Himself, He gives of Himself, and He loves Himself within Himself; among the three Persons of the Trinity.

St. Augustine said that whenever you have love, there’s a lover, there’s the one who is loved, and there’s the love that exists between them.  He’s talking about the Trinity.  First there’s the lover: God the Father.  Then there’s the one who is loved: God the Son.  Then there’s the love between them: God the Holy Spirit.

Second, God unbottles Himself with us.  God is perfect.  There is nothing you can add to God to make Him a better God.  Yet, in his infinite wisdom and love, having no need for us, God created us out of love and shares His love with us. 

God shares this love with us most perfectly by making a gift of Himself to us through His Son, Jesus Christ.  Our Gospel today says, “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son.”  And God continues to show us His love through the gift of the Holy Spirit.

And not only does God reveal Himself to us as love through His being a communion of persons – a Holy Trinity; He inscribes His divine nature into us.  For we are created in His image and likeness.  We’re not just created in the image and likeness of God the Father.  We’re created in the image and likeness of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  We’re created in the image and likeness of the Holy Trinity – a communion of persons.  And so we’re created to be a communion of persons ourselves – with one another and with God.  We’re created for love.

That’s the greatest desire of the human heart isn’t it?  We all desire to be loved.  And we equally, if not more so, desire to give love.  Of course!  It’s how God made us.  He made us for entering into communion with one another and with Him.

This, of course, is realized so profoundly in marriage.  When husbands and wives enter into communion with one another.  You have the lover and the one who is loved.  And the love between them, by nature, becomes “unbottled” and literally becomes a third person, a child conceived in love.  You could say that the family is an icon, an image of the Holy Trinity. 

On this Father’s Day, I want to exhort the father’s among us to follow our Heavenly Father’s lead and seize the opportunity to be the initiator of love within your family.  I’m sure you’re well aware that the divorce rate in our country is 50%.  There’s a cure to such a disease and it’s found in the communion of persons.  When couples choose to enter into communion with the Holy Trinity and with one another, their chances of having a lifelong marriage skyrocket.

There have been numerous studies that show that families that pray together stay together.  Yes, the national divorce rate is 50%.  But, when couples are married in the Church or another place of worship (and return there weekly) to enter into communion with God, the divorce rate is 1 out of 100.  And, when couples pray together in their home, for just a few minutes everyday, the divorce rate is 1 out of 1,000.

A priest once told me that when couples come into his office and their marriage is on the rocks, he tells them they need to get Jesus at the center of their marriage.  So he tells them that he wants them to hold each other’s hands for just a few minutes a day and they are to pray together.  And they're not allowed to say Our Father’s, Hail Mary’s and Glory Be’s.  He’ll ask them if they can do this.  Of course, they say “yes.”  Then he’ll say, “OK, do it now.”  And their shocked right? They’ve been put on the spot.  And he says to them, “I didn’t just ask you to walk 100 miles. Pray together.”

Because one of the biggest obstacles to prayer is simply getting over the awkwardness of prayer.  The thing is – you just have to get over it.

So dad’s here’s what I want you to do.  Tonight, I want you to take your bride’s hands into yours and I want the two of you to pray together.  I want the two of you to enter into communion with one another and with God.  When a woman who loves God sees that kind of love and vulnerability in her husband – look out! Wow, will she fall in love with him!  And if things are kind of rocky between you (or really rocky between you) then you know how much you need Jesus there with the two of you.

“Unbottle” your love for one another and for God.

1 comment:

  1. Saint Augustine condemned the analogy which sees a reflection of the Most Holy Trinity in Marriage:

    Book XII.

    Chapter 5.—The Opinion Which Devises an Image of the Trinity in the Marriage of Male and Female, and in Their Offspring.

    5. Accordingly they do not seem to me to advance a probable opinion, who lay it down that a trinity of the image of God in three persons, so far as regards human nature, can so be discovered as to be completed in the marriage of male and female and in their offspring; in that the man himself, as it were, indicates the person of the Father, but that which has so proceeded from him as to be born, that of the Son; and so the third person as of the Spirit, is, they say, the woman, who has so proceeded from the man as not herself to be either son or daughter, [746] although it was by her conception that the offspring was born. For the Lord hath said of the Holy Spirit that He proceedeth from the Father, [747] and yet he is not a son. In this erroneous opinion, then, the only point probably alleged, and indeed sufficiently shown according to the faith of the Holy Scripture, is this,—in the account of the original creation of the woman,—that what so comes into existence from some person as to make another person, cannot in every case be called a son; since the person of the woman came into existence from the person of the man, and yet she is not called his daughter. All the rest of this opinion is in truth so absurd, nay indeed so false, that it is most easy to refute it. For I pass over such a thing, as to think the Holy Spirit to be the mother of the Son of God, and the wife of the Father; since perhaps it may be answered that these things offend us in carnal things, because we think of bodily conceptions and births. Although these very things themselves are most chastely thought of by the pure, to whom all things are pure; but to the defiled and unbelieving, of whom both the mind and conscience are polluted, nothing is pure; [748] so that even Christ, born of a virgin according to the flesh, is a stumbling-block to some of them. But yet in the case of those supreme spiritual things, after the likeness of which those kinds of the inferior creature also are made although most remotely, and where there is nothing that can be injured and nothing corruptible, nothing born in time, nothing formed from that which is formless, or whatever like expressions there may be; yet they ought not to disturb the sober prudence of any one, lest in avoiding empty disgust he run into pernicious error. Let him accustom himself so to find in corporeal things the traces of things spiritual, that when he begins to ascend upwards from thence, under the guidance of reason, in order to attain to the unchangeable truth itself through which these things were made, he may not draw with himself to things above what he despises in things below. For no one ever blushed to choose for himself wisdom as a wife, because the name of wife puts into a man's thoughts the corruptible connection which consists in begetting children; or because in truth wisdom itself is a woman in sex, since it is expressed in both Greek and Latin tongues by a word of the feminine gender.