At the Core is Love
Homily for June 11, 2017 (Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity)
Exodus 34:4b-6, 8-9; Daniel 3:52-56; 2 Corinthians 12:11-13; John 3:16-18
Sometimes the door that serves as an exit also serves as an entrance. Consider the end of our second reading, which is also the last verse of St. Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ/ and the love of God/ and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.”
Doesn’t that sound familiar? It’s one of the options for the priest’s greeting in the Introductory Rites of the Mass. The exit in one expression of faith is also the entrance to another. This harmonization of what seems to be disparate or even contradictory is an important element of our lives as Catholics: the challenge to embrace and even welcome mystery, a challenge that is at the heart of today’s celebration.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains that the Holy Trinity is one God who is three distinct persons (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) in relationship (CCC 253-255). It took centuries for the Church to come to that understanding, and many centuries later it’s still hard for us to wrap our minds around it. That’s the nature of a mystery: it’s something that we experience, but to wrap it up in a neat definitional bow is almost impossible. Ultimately, we are talking about something we want to understand more fully; but our human language can at best grasp only part of the reality.
At the core of this mystery is love, and as believers we are called to not simply reflect on that mystery but to enter it. The love of the Father, Son and Spirit for each other is something that we are invited to make part of our lives. Those well-known verses of John 3 tell us that God’s saving decision to send his Son, Jesus, among us was an act of love. God wanted the world to accept the gift of life, and God offered God’s very self (“his only Son”) as the proof of that generosity and desire for reconciliation. It was the amplifying echo of the gift of the law that God offered Israel through Moses, a gift that was meant to draw them closer to God and to truly live as God’s people, even as their idolatry and other sins drew them away from God.
Entering the mystery of God and of God’s love is not something we can do once and forget about it. We can’t presume that it will grow on its own. Instead, St. Paul’s exhortations to the church at Corinth tell us that God’s love and peace will be with us insofar as we are attentive to our need for conversion (“mend your ways”), encourage and look for points of agreement with each other, and strive to make peace in our relationships. That goes against the grain of some of the coarser elements of our culture, which like to point fingers of accusation and condemnation, which thrive on conflict and division, and which consider peace-making a form of appeasement.
Take a moment this week to reflect on the mystery of God’s love and how you can make it more real in your own life—in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. +