Monday, May 27, 2013

Homily - "Share in the life of the Trinity"

It is much quieter on the campus of GW now that the students have gone home for the summer.  Some of them are around during the summer months, and I have continued meeting with a few. One of them asked me in our meeting, "what is Grace?" This is a beautiful but tough question. Answering it is much like articulating the dogma of the Holy Trinity. We are dealing with mystery, so while we won't be able to understand it fully, we can at least use the language of the Church to define or describe it. 

As some of you memorized when you were young, Grace is a share in divine life. It is a share in God's life. Grace is the most incredible thing in the world! I don't think we begin to appreciate this until we start living a life of Grace. Grace is everything, and everything is Grace. Grace gives us strength to live as we are supposed to live...and as we truly want to live. And, as we hear in today's readings, Grace attaches us to the things of God. When we share in God's life, we share in wisdom (1st reading), virtue (2nd reading), and truth (Gospel). I met with a student for an hour and a half last week talking about things like the Trinity. She was so impressed with and inspired by the wisdom and truth of the Church. It's an incredible thing to come to know wisdom and truth!

As Jesus indicates in the Gospel, the Spirit guides us to all truth...particularly, the truth about God. Thanks to the Spirit, we know who God is! As a people, we waited for
housands of years to know who God is. We now know that God is Father, Son, and Spirit. This is what He has revealed to us through Scripture and the Church. Reason tells us THAT God exists, but faith tells us WHO God is. The Spirit not only tells us who God is, but He also invites us to share in God's life. What does a share in the life of the Trinity look like? What is the life in the Trinity?

The Church describes the Holy Trinity as a "communion of persons". We are invited, then, into this communion...this family of divine persons. The Trinity is three persons, one God. They are distinct persons who share the same substance. We now use the correct term in the creed, "consubstantial"; each divine person shares the same substance. The Church says that each has a distinct "mission". This word "mission" helps us to work through the doctrine of the Trinity.

The mission of the Holy Spirit is the love between the Father and the Son. The Father and Son have infinite love for one another. This is from all eternity, so our finite minds cannot really grasp this. But, their love for one another cannot be contained. It overflows - like coffee overflowing a cup - and generates another divine person, the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit is the love between the Father and the Son. Analogous to this is the love between husband and wife overflowing to create another person; every baby is the love between his or her parents. The Holy Spirit is the love between the Father and the Son. The Spirit proceeds from the Father and the us. He invites us to share in the love of the Trinity. 

The mission of the Son is knowledge of the Father. He says a few times in the Gospel that if we know Him, we know the Father. The Father sends the Son into the world for us to know Him. Everything comes to us from the Father, through the Son, and in the Holy Spirit. This is the Trinitarian formula which shows us the missions of each divine person.

Finally, we use this Trinitarian formula at Mass. If you listen to the prayers, then you hear that they are offered to the Father through the Son and in the Holy Spirit. And, when we receive the Eucharist, God makes His dwelling within us: Father, Son, and Spirit. Where there is the Son, there is the Father and Holy Spirit. 

As we leave Mass tonight, let us think about what we do when we dip our fingers into the holy water font and bless ourselves. This reminds us of our Baptism when we first received God's Grace and the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit came into our souls. And, it reminds us of the Trinitarian lives we are to live: in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

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