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The Holy Trinity Homily-Fr. Andrew Lee

Today is the feast of the Holy Trinity when we celebrate one of the greatest mysteries of our faith. In studying theology at the seminary, I remember a professor telling us that the most difficult concept of faith to preach about was the Trinity. Catechism of Catholic Church says in article 234, “The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is the central mystery of Christian faith and life. It is the mystery of God in himself. It is therefore the source of all the other mysteries of faith, the light that enlightens them.” It has always been and will be the mystery we accept on faith.

The story is told of St. Augustine of Hippo, a great philosopher and theologian. He was preoccupied with the doctrine of the Blessed Trinity. He wanted so much to understand the doctrine of one God in three persons and to be able to explain it logically. One day he was walking along the sea shore and reflecting on this matter. Suddenly, he saw a little child all alone on the shore. The child made a hole in the sand, ran to the sea with a little cup, filled her cup with sea water, ran up and emptied the cup into the hole she had made in the sand. Back and forth she went to the sea, filled her cup and came and poured it into the hole. Augustine drew up and said to her, “Little child, what are you doing?” She replied, “I am trying to empty the sea into this hole.” “How do you think,” Augustine asked her, “that you can empty this immense sea into this tiny hole and with this tiny cup?” She answered back, “And you, how do you suppose that with your small brain you can comprehend the immensity of God?” With that the child disappeared. This story tells us how absurd it is to understand the mystery logically.

There have been many logical explanations about the Holy Trinity. We believe that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are from one substance but three different persons. In order to grasp the mystery of the Trinity by logical reason, some explain that the Trinity is like one person who has three different roles. For example, I am a priest to all of you in the Church, I am a son to my mother, and I am a Korean citizen to my country. I am a person who plays three different roles in various circumstances. But the three persons in the Trinity is/are not one person. In my example, I have different roles but eventually I am one person. This is not sufficient enough to explain the mystery. Some say that the Trinity is like three leaves from one stem like a shamrock. But this is not an exact correspondence to the Trinity either. It is because the three persons in the Trinity work totally differently while three leaves in a shamrock have the same function. There is no way to figure out what the Trinity looks like by human reason and language. We are called to accept it on faith.

But St. Augustine’s explanation about the Holy Trinity draws our attention. He tries to unravel the mystery by the relationships among the three persons in the Trinity. St. Augustine talks about the Lover, the Loved, and Love Itself. If there is love, there is a person who loves and another person who is loved. Therefore, the Father, the Lover is surrendering to the relationship with the Loved who is his beloved Son through Love itself. The three persons in the Trinity have the relationship of love and give and take one another through the bond of love. I think this is one of the inspirational explanations about the Trinity.

In the first reading, Moses climbs the mountain of the Lord with two tablets to take God’s commandments. He encounters God and puts his head down in front of him. This is the moment when the relationship is formed between God and a human being. The Gospel tells us how God, the Lover, wants to build the relationship with human beings through his only Son, the Loved. “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.” This Gospel passage shows us the culmination of God’s love toward humankind.

Today is the solemnity of the most Holy Trinity. The mystery of Trinity invites us to a relationship of love like the three persons in the Trinity bonded together through love. In the second reading, St. Paul says, “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. All the holy ones greet you.” This is how we bond together in the love of the Trinity.

We are called to imitate the Trinity. Every time we trace the sign of the cross, we profess our faith, and when we say “Glory be,” we are invited to the relationship of love with the Trinity and our neighbors. As we celebrate this Trinity Sunday, let us reflect whether we, as members of the Church, foster life-giving relationships that contribute to the creation of a community of love.

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