Trinity Sunday, One for all and all for one.



Trinity Sunday

The anniversary of my ordination is coming up in a few weeks, but it was on a Trinity Sunday that I said my first mass. It was at St Thomas in Ann Arbor on June 10, 2001. They typically give the newly ordained the option of having someone else preach that day but I decided to go for it. Let’s jump in with both feet was my attitude at that time.

I said to myself, “Let’s take on one of the more daunting tasks for any Christian preacher. Let’s try to explain the unexplainable, that central truth of our faith that says that God is One, but at the same time, God is three. The mystery of The Trinity”.

I suppose I’ve got that first homily somewhere in my archives, and it might have been neat to revisit it. But my policy is to never recycle my homilies. I always try to offer something fresh. But I do remember that it was simply about mystery and how the nuns in Sacred Heart School School often retreated to that phrase, It’s a mystery!”

In any case, over the years I’ve given probably 14 different presentations on the Trinity trying to make this mystery more understandable. And believe me, this is for my own benefit as much as it might be for yours.

And so I’ve depended on many of the wiser and brighter and holier ones to help explain it all. And the results are as close as this vestment I’m wearing today. I had it made in anticipation of that first mass. It as two symbols that are very simple attempts to describe it graphically. A triangle and three intersecting circles. These are not unlike the shamrock image given us by St Patrick. Three lobes on one leaf.

Then there was the concept of God as a community. Father and Son….with the Holy Spirit proceeding from them and with the Holy Spirit described or identified as the love that exists between the Father and Son. And this is reflected in creation. Man and woman come together and offspring proceed from them, as a product of their love.

The Trinity has also been depicted in art in various ways. A good way to see a gallery of this art might be to watch the Mother Angelica Rosary on TV. I tune in most nights with Charter cable on channel 82, at 9:30. The typical way that the father is depicted is as a very old man, with a big white beard and sometimes even bald. Can you imagine? God the Father going bald? Gimme a break. I will say that the bibles book of Daniel speaks about the Father as the Ancient of Days and at other places describe him as as having white hair, white as snow or wool.

My preference is art when the Three Persons are shown as physically identical, as in the image at the back of the Church. This Icon is by Andrey Rublev and the original is in St Petersburg Russia. It’s based on the three messengers who visited the old couple Abraham and Sara in the desert and told them that they were going to have a baby.

Back at Christmas I told you of tracking down an old video from a TV show of the 1070’s called Insight. It depicted the Trinity up in heaven’s living room with the Father dressed in a cardigan sweater, ( and with a nice haircut) his son, whose hair was notably longer, ( it was the 70’s after all) and finally the Holy Spirit played by an African American actress with an afro. Her name was Grace. Incidentally, it will soon be available in our lending library but it’s a VHS tape so you’ll need one of those old tape players. Maybe we should have it transferred to disc.

I also told you that the Trinity has a number associated with it. The variations of it are 3, the number of persons. 33. The reputed age of Jesus when he died. And final 333, the Number of the trinity itself. If you ever find yourself gazing at the clock, or at a sign, or whatever at 33 minutes after the hour, or at 3:33 in the afternoon, or if you are wakened at 3:33 at night, then consider it a sign. It happens to me all the time. 333 occasionally, 33 5-10 times a day.

Well I think I have a new angle this year. Some years back I went to my cousin Elaine’s wedding down in Ohio. We had some time before the service so me and some of the cousins went into town to see what was happening. Well, the place was hoppin. People were everywhere. I’m thinking this must be a pretty popular place. As we walked down the main street, I couldn’t help but notice that many of the people kind of looked the same. They were dressed alike, sometimes rather strangely. But it was more than that. And I commented to my cousin how unusual that seemed. She looked at me and said, “Duh. Well this is Twinsburg, and this weekend is National Twins Day! It’s always in the first full weekend in August.”

Oh. I see. So began my interest in Twins. Fraternal twins or multiples are the most common. We have at least one pair here at Holy Spirit, a brother and sister about a year old. But identicals, that’s another story. The fertilized egg divides and sometimes divides some more. There are identical twins, triplets quadruplets, and every now-and-then, even quintuplets. The Dionne sisters from Ontario were the first quints to survive infancy. Two survive and they just celebrated their birthday this past Thursday. They are now 80.

But identicals share the same genetics. They are indeed individuals, but they look exactly alike and often act alike.

In our diocese we have the two identical twins, the Keonigsnecht brothers, Frs Todd and Gary. They from Holy Trinity Parish up in Fowler. Ya can’t tell em apart.

They were thinking alike even when they didn’t realize it. They each told mom and dad, separately, that they felt called to the priesthood. It was the parents who informed each of the boys that they also had identical calls.

But for me, the Trinity could possibly be described in terms of identical triplets. Looking alike is not important, but being of the same mind is. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are on the same wavelength, they don’t argue. They don’t have different opinions.

We recall that God the Father once identified himself to Moses by saying I am who am. Jesus once told the Pharisees, before Abraham came to be, I am.

If the Trinity ever wanted to speak to the world, would it say, We are who are. Or before Abraham came to be, we are?

They are like fraternal, identical triplets all rolled into one.

I hope that helped. We will never fully understand all of the implications of the Blessed Trinity, but we can chip away at it. And who knows, maybe sometimes the simplest of analogies might just be the best.

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