The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity – June 16, 2019
St. Margaret Mary – Wichita, KS
Proverbs 8:22-31; Psalms 8:4-9; Romans 5:1-5; John 16:12-15
The Trinity lies at the origin and core of it all, at the origin and core of our entire faith, the central Mystery of our faith. I don’t know about you, but for the longest time, I never really understood the importance of this fact. I was too caught up in defining and understanding the Trinity. Three persons in on God, but God is one, but there are three.
But then, one day, I was talking to one of my good friends, and he said something that changed it all—it changed everything about how I love the faith, how I understand the faith. It changed from trying to understand the faith, comprehending the faith, to living the faith. He just looked at me and said, “Yeah, I wouldn’t worry about that stuff too much. Because really, at the end of the day, it’s just Catechism 221. ‘God himself is an eternal exchange of love, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and he has destined us to share in that exchange.’”
At first I thought that was a little simple minded, but as I continued to ponder that fact, I began to realize how much truth was in it. God himself is an eternal exchange of love…and he has destined us to share in that exchange. In fact, I began to realize that everything is contained in that; our entire faith, the reason for Jesus’ coming, the reason the Spirit was sent, the reason we follow Jesus Christ—everything stems from and is directed toward the fact: we are destined to share in the very life of God himself; and through Jesus Christ and the Spirit, that life begins now!
Really, what I realized is that the Trinity is not something we are trying to solve and encapsulate; no, it is not a problem to be solved, but a Mystery to be lived.
So often we get caught up in the day-to-day stuff of being Christians that we forget this destiny. We get so caught up in, “only eat fish on Friday…unless you forget,” or, “if I don’t pray before I eat, my mom always told me I’ll choke on my food.” We get so caught up in the practical day-to-day stuff that we forget why we do it in the first place.
I think that, of all the stories in the Gospels, the story of the Rich Young Man illustrates this the best. We all remember this Young Man who comes to Jesus, falls on his knees before him, and asks, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life? What must I do to find the fulfillment and satisfaction that has been eluding me?” Jesus sees right through him, and sees that he is looking for the secret commandment, or key, or shortcut to what he sees as the “problem” of gaining eternal life and the fulfillment that has been eluding him. And so Jesus plays his game for a little bit and says, “Well, have you tried the Commandments?” And with an almost exhausted reply says, “Yes, I’ve done all of that. Ever since I was young, I’ve tried that.” And at that point, Jesus looks at him—loves him—and says, “There is one thing you haven’t tried. Go, sell what you have, give it to the poor. And then come, follow me.” And the Young Man turns him down; full of sorrow, of grief to his very core, the Young Man walks away. Interestingly enough, this is the only place in the Gospels where Jesus makes that famous invitation, “Come, follow me,” and the person doesn’t take him up on it. And how is he described? As walking away in sorrow and grief.
What the Rich Young Man could not comprehend and could not accept was that Jesus was not offering the secret or key to “going to heaven,” but was offering him a companionship—a lived experience. Jesus was not offering the solution to a problem, but a mysterious companionship that had to be lived. Once again: not a problem, but something we live! Day after day, week after week, we have to live it.
So often we think that Christianity is about “storing up treasure in heaven” so that when the day comes, we can “buy” our way in: I got baptized, I got my first communion, my confirmation, I go to mass once in a while, I confess—I’m set! Or we think that the Christian life is: “Be perfect,” follow the rules, be a good person. And that’s nice! But being Christian is none of that! Christianity is following Christ, being a companion of Christ, immersing ourselves in this life! We can’t just buy our way into heaven, that’s not how it works. It is something we live! Day after day.
The person I learned this from was my dad—I learned the faith isn’t just a box we need to check-off, but it is something that we live every day, that determines our entire life, and how we live our life. For example, my dad wakes up very early every morning to make sure that he has time to pray—every morning! My dad goes to mass—every day. When I was growing up, we would pray the rosary as a family—every night! And the person to tell us that we were going to pray wasn’t my mom, it was my dad. When we were young, my dad would put us to bed every night and pray with us. My dad! My mom is a saint, an amazing woman, incredible. But my dad taught me to live the faith. My dad taught me the importance of the faith. Just another example, when we would go on vacation, the first thing he would do is find the church where we would go to mass on Sunday. Even on vacation! I remember once we had to drive thirty minutes just to get to the church. But because of that, we learned the importance of the faith! I learned the importance of the faith. I learned that the faith is not just another thing in our life, it is our life. Being Christian is not just “the things we need to do,” it is following Christ always—every day.
Today is a good challenge for the fathers here, and for wives to challenge their husbands who are not here: Are you leading your family in the faith? Do you know that it is your responsibility to lead your family in the faith (c.f., Ephesians 4 and 5)? Because it is incredibly important that you do! People have done many studies about passing on the faith to their children, and the most important factor in passing on the faith is the role of the father (1)! And there is no better place to begin than Sundays: making Sunday holy, teaching your family and children that Sunday is holy, planning your whole Sunday around the mass.
Christianity, the faith, the Trinity—it is not a problem we need to solve, it is a Mystery we need to live. We can rationalize it, try to find the secret, whatever! But until we start living it, nothing we do is going make a difference. It is Christ who changes us. Christ through his Spirit that we are brought into the divine life. And so step number one is to follow him, to live with him, to place him at the center of our lives. Through him, with him, and in him—it’s not a problem, it’s a Mystery we live every day.