Feast of the Most Holy Trinity – June 19, 2011 – St. John’s
Every Sunday, if you think about it, is Trinity Sunday. We always begin and end our worship “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Whatever their particular themes may be, all of the Scriptural texts we hear Sunday after Sunday are in the service of the good news we heard stated so succinctly today: “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son… God did not send his Son into the world in order to judge the world but that the world might be saved by him.” In every Mass we celebrate and enjoy “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.”
These NT texts are the Christian expansion of the self-revelation by God that began with experiences like that of Moses on Mt. Sinai, when God revealed his name. “The Lord, the Lord,” Moses hears, “a god merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin,” a description which would become almost as familiar to the Israelites as is the God of the Sign of the Cross to us.
We should try to appreciate the historic significance of this revelation to Moses. When, as our first text says, God pronounces his own name, he does not use the circumlocution with which we are familiar: “The Lord, the Lord”; he uses the name Jews consider too sacred to be named: “Yahweh, Yahweh.” But as important as the knowledge of his name is the knowledge of what we may perhaps call his character, his nature, he is “a god merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” This is the God who wished to enter into a covenant with Israel.
This text brings us back some three thousand years, but the questions to which God provides the answer in his self-revelation are ones that we human beings continue to pose to ourselves, to the universe. Is there a God? Is the universe ultimately intelligible, the product of intelligence, or is it a mere brute fact, without meaning? Are we human beings, free to create and to act and to love, the only moral beings in the universe, and thus strangers in an alien environment? Or is the universe, and we in it, the product of a creative artistry? Is the universe, and we within it, itself a work of divine art? And if there is a God, does he have a care for us? What is his relationship to us, and ours to him? Can we have a relationship with him? And what of our brokenness, our failures to be what we should be, what we could be? Has not the infinite gulf between creatures and Creator become even more distant, more unbridgeable, because of our sins?
Such questions have always arisen and continue to arise. And we hear the answers of our God. First of all, to Israel: “The Lord, the Lord, a god merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” Then in Christ: “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son so that whoever believes in him should not perish but should have eternal life.” And all of it summed up in Paul’s neat formula: where the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ is understood to be the love of his Father and participation in the Holy Spirit–the Trinity, the Three-in-One, revealed as the eternal articulation of a Mystery self-defined as love and mercy and graciousness and fidelity, and revealed precisely so that we would not die but enjoy the eternal life that God himself is.
Every Sunday is Trinity Sunday. We should not need a special feast to remember and to appreciate who the god is whom we have been given to know, the god whom we have been given to love, the god in whom we have been given to hope. To him, through Jesus Christ and in the unity of the Holy Spirit, be all glory and honor and praise, now and forever.