Jun 13, 2017
Homily for Trinity Sunday – June 10-11, 2017 - Salem
after reading: Exodus 34:4-9; Dan 3:52-55; 2 Cor 13:11-13; John 3:16-18
The sign of the cross is such a simple prayer. It’s a profession of faith in the Trinity, and in the cross of Jesus Christ. It’s a way of naming three persons as one God: Father, Son, and Spirit; sharing in one divine power, yet each having their own name. It’s a little confusing because it speaks to the heart of who God is as someone who is beyond this world and beyond our understanding, yet, part of everything we do, whose grace is present in every breath we take. Like the sign of the cross, God’s presence becomes something we just kind of do without thinking about it.
Each year, the church gives us Trinity Sunday to focus on what we mean when we talk about “God”. Who is God? We can know of God in an intellectual sense looking at the logic of our belief, or we can know God in an emotional sense looking at the feeling we have when we realize God’s touch.
So, let’s start with the logical. We look around us at the world, and we can ask where did it all come from? Current theories talk about a big bang, after which all the energy and matter of the universe became present. But that’s not the final answer, because we can still ask “What caused the big bang? Where did that come from?”
Some theories just lead to more questions. But the chain of questions demands an answer from outside the result. The universe can’t be created by something within the universe. What caused the big bang? It must be something outside the universe, outside the material world, outside of time, if we understand the beginning of the universe as the beginning of time. That creative force must have been immaterial, or we could say, pure spirit, and it must have been eternal, already existing before time began.
We can also say that if this creative force caused the entire universe to come into being then it must be all-powerful. And we can also say, that if this creative force always existed then it didn’t need to create the world, so it must have done this act of creation, this big bang, out of a sense of giving; not from any need of its own. So, we could say that it must be motivated by goodness, self-giving.
Logically then, we find an eternal, spiritual being who is all powerful and good, at the creation of the universe. For those who say that believing in God is irrational, I’d say that when we look at the existence of the world it’s quite logical to propose the existence of an eternal, all-powerful, good, spiritual being (who I think we could call “God”). Really, it seems irrational to deny the existence of God.
But, this is all on the intellectual, logical side of our understanding that there is such a thing as God. Our faith invites us to move closer, not simply to examine God, but to experience God. And as we make that sign of the cross, we not only name things, but we draw that cross over us, recognizing in the experience of the cross, the person of Jesus who makes Himself available to touch our lives, if we’re open to Him.
Because God didn’t just create the world; but “God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son so that everyone who believes in Him might not perish but might have eternal life.”
There’s a jump we have to make from the head to the heart, from the logic that says some kind of God must exist, to the belief that says this God loves us and came among us to help us.
The witness of the apostles after Pentecost showed the impact of that belief. These uneducated men on the outskirts of society felt so strongly about what they’d experienced in the life of Jesus Christ, that they needed to share that experience with others. They felt that God not only existed but had touched their lives, had shown them His loving care.
And while facing ridicule, and persecution, they brought together people who shared that belief and their community of faith continued to be a sign for others. St. Paul tells the community in Corinth, “Encourage one another; live in peace”, “greet one another with a holy kiss.” Why? Because “the God of love and peace will be with you.”
That jump from logic to love happens in relationship; within a community of fellow believers; within a church. And every generation is called to continue to witness; not just to present logical arguments, but to be signs of the way God loves, so that others can experience the grace of Jesus Christ in their own lives.
God, in the totality of His being, is beyond this world and beyond our understanding. But, He has created the world as a gift, given out of love. He has sent the Son among us to show us the meaning of life. He continues to be a part of everything we do, allowing His grace to be present in every breath we take. And He calls us to be the new witnesses for this generation, to love one another, so that everyone can see something of God’s love, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.