Holy Trinity - A

St. Patrick's Analogies:

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The story is told of a priest sitting in an airport waiting for his flight. A fellow killing time struck up a conversation. Said he, "Father, I believe only what I can understand. So, I can't buy your Trinity. Perhaps you can explain it to me." The priest reluctantly put down The New York Times. "Do you see the sun out there?" "Yup." "OK, it's 80 million miles away from us right now. The rays coming through the window," said the priest, "are coming from the sun. The delightful heat we are enjoying on our bodies right now come from a combination of the sun and its rays. Do you understand that?" The fellow answered, "Sure,  padre." "The Trinity," the priest went on, "is like that. God the Father is that blazing sun. The Son is the rays He sends down to us. Then both combine to send us the Holy Spirit who is the heat. If you understand the workings of the sun, its rays, and heat, why do you have difficulty believing the Trinity?" The man said something about catching a flight and was off.  

He recalled the husband, who said when he became a father, he better understood the Trinity. When he and his wife had their son, they had evidence of their love for each other. There was the lover, the beloved, and the love, each distinct and yet one. 
I enjoy the playful description of Daniel Durken of the Trinity. The Father played creator and was overjoyed that the world turned out so attractively. The Son played redeemer and put everything right again in the wounded world by stretching out His arms on a cross. The Spirit played sanctifier. He made room in the heart of each of us for the Trinity. "Today," says Durken, "the Trinity invites us to keep playing with them this delightful game of life and love." And why not?  We have nothing to lose but our chains. 

Father James Gilhooley
Some Quotes: 

"To try to deny the Trinity endangers your salvation, to try to comprehend the Trinity endangers your sanity." Martin Luther
Tertullian on the Trinity 

Tertullian, one of the theologians of the early church, explained the Trinity in a metaphor. God the Father he described as "a deep root, the Son as the shoot that breaks forth into the world, and the Spirit as that which spreads beauty and fragrance." Brett Blair,

Faith and Knowledge
Faith and knowledge are two different things. Faith makes us into obedient servants, but knowledge only makes us trivia experts. It's as if Jesus is saying, "Hold your questions to the end. Right now your primary task is loyalty and obedience."  Kenneth W. Collins, The Great Commission
Our faith: It is a relationship of Trust and commitment.
“Understanding is the reward of faith. Therefore seek not to understand that you may believe, but believe that you may understand.” (Augustine.) 
Our experience of God leads us to an understanding of God. Theology seeks to understand the truth God has revealed to and through the experience of his people. Definition of Theology: Faith seeking understanding.
l  Experience is how we ENCOUNTER God
l  Theology is what we KNOW of God
l  Spirituality is how we LOVE 
Fr. Tony Kadavil:

Importance in Christian life: 1) All prayers in the Church begin in the Name of the Holy Trinity and end glorifying the Trinity. 2) All Sacraments are administered (we are baptized, confirmed, anointed, our sins are forgiven, our marriage blessed, and our Bishops, priests and deacons ordained) in the name of the Holy Trinity.3) Church bells ring thrice daily, reminding us to give glory to the Holy Trinity for the Incarnation of Jesus and His Redemption of all of us.4) We bless ourselves, and the priest blesses us, in the Name of the Holy Trinity.
Biblical evidences:There are only vague and hidden references to the Trinity in the Old Testament. But the New Testament gives clear teachings on the Holy Trinity.
1)    At the Annunciation, God the Father sends His angel to Mary, God the Holy Spirit comes upon her, the Power of the Most High overshadows her and God the Son becomes incarnate in her womb.
2) At the baptism of Jesus, when the Son receives baptism from John the Baptist, the Father’s Voice is heard and the Holy Spirit appears as a Dove.
3)  At the Ascension, Jesus gives the missionary command to his disciples to baptize those who believe, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
4) In John, chapters 15--18, we have a detailed account of Jesus’ teaching of the role of each Person of the Holy Trinity: a) God the Father creates and provides for His creatures. b) God the Son redeems us and reconciles us with God. c) God the Holy Spirit sanctifies us, strengthens us, teaches us and guides us to God.

Gospel text : John 3:16-18

Michel de Verteuil
General comments
The feast of the Trinity is classed in the Church’s calendar as a “solemnity”. I have sometimes heard it called “the climax of the liturgical year”. This is an unfortunate expression which betrays a misunderstanding of liturgy – and of our relationship with Jesus.
As I pointed out last week the focus of the Church’s liturgy (and of our lives as Christians) is always Jesus, not primarily as a teacher but as a person who like us lived in particular historical circumstances and responded to particular challenges as he met them.
This is why the Church’s main liturgical feasts are also the main events of Jesus’ life:
– his birth and childhood at Advent and Christmas;
– his preaching in Lent;
– his passion and death at the Sacred Triduum;
– his resurrection culminating in the ascension and the sending of the Spirit, at Easter.

H trinThese events, as I also showed last week, are not particular to Jesus; they are “mysteries” – like the mysteries of the Rosary. This means that he now lives them in his followers and in the church, so that we do not merely look at or admire them, but “celebrate” them as stories of Jesus, recognising them from our own experience (or the experience of others) and letting them lead us to become ever more like him. We apply to liturgical feasts the words of the popular prayer at the end of the Rosary; “we imitate what they contain and hope to obtain what they promise”.
 In the liturgy then, “doctrinal feasts” like the Trinity are always subordinate to “events-feasts” like Christmas, the Sacred Triduum and Easter. The Vatican II Decree on the Liturgy made this clear: “The minds of the faithful should be directed primarily to the feasts of the Lord, whereby the mysteries of salvation are celebrated throughout the year” (No 108).
The doctrine of the Trinity emerged in the Church very gradually  after several centuries of meditation on the life of Jesus. We do not need to make that journey again – the Trinity is now a doctrine of our faith. It remains true however that the best way to approach the Trinity is by meditating on Jesus, how he faced life and related with people.
This is how we approach today’s feast, and the gospel reading. We meditate on Jesus responding to a concrete situation – he converses with Nicodemus who has come to him “by night” because he is afraid of the Jews. Our meditation reveals him as a totally free person, his freedom rooted in his relationship with the Father and the Holy Spirit, the fact that he was a “Trinitarian person” – as we too are called to be.

The reading comprises several “themes” which are intertwined and run through the entire passage. We can identify three such “themes”.
– Jesus sees his mission as bringing “eternal life” and “salvation” to those who are “lost”. These are traditional expressions, almost clichés. We must make a real effort to let them come alive through meditation.
“Eternal life” is in contrast with “temporary life”. It means a life that can survive every form of death, failure in relationships or the work place, defeat and  humiliation, the loss of a loved one. We remember people (ourselves included) being “lost” – insecure, adrift, without  guidance – and then moving to being “saved” (safe) – the feeling of security, the tremendous relief of finding one’s way after having drifted for a long time.
– The next two themes answer the question, how did Jesus keep his mission truly  “life-giving” and “saving”? The first answer is that he was conscious of his mission not originating in himself – he was the “ son” who had been “given to the world” by the “Father”, a loving gift, as precious as an only child to its parents. Our meditation must make the expression “only son” come alive. It means “very dear son”, conjuring up memories of only children, of how their parents dote on them, and how they grieve over them when they die prematurely.
Jesus’ sense of himself as “beloved son” (a “sent person” as in many other gospel passages), keeps him focussed on his mission. It removes any possessiveness; he loves selflessly.
– Then there is the theme of “condemning”.  It is not an expression we like; for us it connotes self-righteousness and writing off people. On the other hand it is a theme (like God’s anger) that is central to the bible. If we ignore it (throwing out the baby with the bath water) the message of Jesus loses its “muscle”, becomes an innocuous, take-it-or-leave-it affair. We must keep the theme of “condemning” therefore, just making sure that we purify it of wrong interpretations. The following are some conclusions.
a) Jesus (like his followers to the extent that they are true to him) is conscious that he poses a challenge to the world, one that requires a response. Those who refuse to accept him (to “believe in the name of God’s only son”) must also accept the consequences –  “condemnation”.
b) We human beings are not responsible for “condemning”. When we take on that responsibility,  we inevitably  find ourselves condemning,  not in the name of God but of our prejudices and narrow-mindedness. It is highly significant then that Jesus says he was sent “not to condemn”.
c) Because God has created us free we ourselves are the only ones who have the right to condemn. It is the  consequence of God’s breathing his Spirit on us. A practical example – if Nicodemus is afraid to come in the daylight, as far as Jesus is concerned he is free to come at night. Note that this freedom has another side – we are not in bondage to the judgment of others.  Cf St Paul 1 Cor 4, 3: “Not that it makes the slightest difference to me whether you or indeed any human tribunal find me worthy or not”.

The feast is the occasion for us to pray for the grace (for the Church and for us as individuals) of a “Trinitarian spirituality”.
– Awareness of God as Father so that we stand in his presence with awe and never think we can possess or control him.
– Consciousness that in Jesus we are sons and daughters of God, sharing in his divinity, so secure in ourselves that others feel “safe” in our presence.
– Awareness of the Spirit at work in others so that we will respect the freedom of each person especially those who disagree with or are different from us.
Truly we need to “celebrate” the Trinity.

Prayer Reflection
“God is gracious and and so graciously does he seize our hearts in order to draw them
on, that he in no wise impairs the liberty of our will. “  ….St Francis of Sales

all handsLord, we thank you that you have sent us into the world  as parents, teachers,
managers, community leaders, ministers in the Church community.
We thank you for the times when we feel secure in your love,
as secure as an only child is secure in the love of its parents,
so that we feel no desire to condemn,
are only concerned that those whose lives we touch do not feel lost,
on the contrary feel safe and can live their lives to the full.

“I am disarmed of the will to overcome, to justify myself at the expense of others,
  I am no longer on the alert jealously guarding my riches.”  …Patriarch Athenagoras
Lord, forgive us as members of your Church,
that we are quick to condemn those who are different from us
– in race or ethnicity
– in mores
– in faith or religion.
Remind us that like Jesus you want us to be a saving presence
in  your world that you love so much,
not condemning but at the same time challenging our contemporaries
to make the choice for life rather than condemnation.

“You know when you have met a saint; instead of feeling inferior you feel enormously affirmed.”  
…Margaret Hebblethwaite, meeting Cardinal Arns
Lord, we thank you for the great people you have sent into our lives,
who touched us so deeply that we felt that you had given us a precious gift.
We sometimes refuse to accept the values they teach us, but they leave us free.
“It is not for me to win you round, I have only to say no to you.”     …Jean Anouilh
Lord many people in our world are lost, feel they are going nowhere,
that life is not worth living:
– drug addicts wandering aimlessly through the streets;
– once successful businessmen who have lost their jobs and sit at home doing nothing;
– families suddenly orphaned;
– a community floundering under corrupt leadership.
Forgive us that as Jesus’ followers we leave them in their lostness
and at times add to their lostness by condemning them.
Remind us that you gave us to them as your gift,
given out of your great love for them,
and your will is that we should so befriend them
so that they can begin to feel safe again and to live to the full.

“No one possesses the truth, we all seek it”.  …Bishop Pierre Claverie. Dominican Bishop  murdered in Algeria.
Lord, help your Church to recognise truth as your beloved possession, your only child,
which you have entrusted to the world
so that we may not be lost but may have eternal life.

Thomas O’Loughlin
Introduction to the Celebration
fr, son, h SpWe have just blessed ourselves and declared that we are gathering in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I have just wished you welcome by wishing you ‘the grace of Jesus Christ’; then wishing you ‘the love of God’ the Father; and then wishing you ‘the fellowship of the Holy Spirit’. Whenever we gather or pray we are talking about the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. It is this mystery that God is Father, Son, and Spirit that we are called on to reflect on today. As we move through today’s celebration, listen out for just how often we will call on ‘Father,’‘Son,’ and ‘Spirit.’

Homily notes
1. Go back through the second reading and note how Paul’s relationship with Jesus – Jesus is Lord – leads him to adopt a way of speaking of God as Father which Jesus had taught his followers. Moreover, Jesus had spoken of sending the Spirit and so the Spirit too is spoken of as ‘Lord’.
2. Paul is adopting a formula already in use within the churches, it is a formula that speaks of the relationship we Christians have with God: we live and move and have our being in God the Father, God the Son our Lord Jesus Christ, and God the Spirit.
3. We do not accept ‘the trinity’ within our minds in the way we accept other religious notions such as ‘God loves us.’ The mystery of the Father, Son and Spirit is the mystery of God and as such cannot be comprehended by a created mind. Rather, we accept this as part of the gracious revelation of God and respond in the way of Jesus: him we address as Lord; with him we call on the Father; from him we accept the Spirit.
John Litteton
Gospel Reflection

Talking about God is invariably difficult because we need to use finite language and concepts to describe that which is infinite. When describing God, we are essentially describing the indescribable.
god of allThe most serious problem frustrating our reflection and discussion is the problem of religious language. Because human language is unable to express the totality of the mystery of God, we frequently resort to using images, metaphors and analogies when speaking about God. Human words are always necessarily limited.
Christian faith believes that there is one God, accepting that God is unique and indivisible. Accordingly, God is Supreme Being who is beyond description and on which all else depends. God is unchanging, all-powerful and all-knowing. God is often described rather impersonally as the Unmoved Mover and the Ground of Being. Saint Anselm (1033-11O9AD) argued that God is ‘that than which nothing greater can be conceived’. Thus God is beyond, separate and remote from nature, history and humanity. God transcends human and earthly reality.

Yet, God is also referred to in a very personal way as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (see Gen 32:9), who is unconditionally loving and merciful. God even reveals a personal name, YHWH, to Moses (see Exod 3) and has an affinity with his people. God is so close to creation and his people that his abiding presence is with them. The principal manifestation of God’s intimacy is the partnership relationship that he has with his people, whereby he is their God and they are his people.
The simultaneous remoteness and familiarity of God provide Christians with a real dilemma because the terms are mutually exclusive in human reasoning. God’s unity and uniqueness are stressed throughout the Old Testament. However, the fuller selfrevelation of God’s nature is not revealed until the New Testament account of the Incarnation.
Unlike Judaism and Islam, which also claim to believe in one God, revelation teaches Christians that, at the Incarnation, God became human, adopting our human nature, in the person of Jesus Christ. John’s Gospel records that ‘the Word was made flesh, he lived among us’ (Jn 1:14) and that God established the closest possible relationship with humankind in Christ who is both divine and human. Consequently, Christians cannot speak about God without also referring to Christ. This is the uniqueness of the Christian perspective on revelation.
The Holy Spirit enables us to be in communion with Christ, yet the Holy Spirit has been active from the beginning of creation. The Holy Spirit mediates revelation, enkindles faith and nourishes the life of grace. Jesus revealed the Holy Spirit and promised to send it to his followers. This promise was fulfilled on Pentecost and the Holy Spirit still remains with the Church, keeping it holy and faithful to God’s revelation.
For Christians, God is loving and merciful and has been revealed as Three-Persons-in-One: Father and Son and Holy Spirit. On Trinity Sunday, we recognise the most fundamental mystery of Christianity and we worship God who is Father and Son and Holy Spirit. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be.
For meditation
God sent his Son into the world not to condemn the world,
but so that through him the world might be saved. (Jn 3:17)
Fr Donal Neary, S.J
In the name
TrinityThey looked down from heaven – the Father, Son and Holy Spir­it – with love for their people. They could see men and women of all races, colours, ages, faiths, holiness and sin. They knew help was needed for the human race and waited a long time before the time was right.
The word of God, son of God, born before all ages, became one of us. We know the rest of the story. One of the persons of the Trinity became one of us, so that we could become like them. Jesus, Son of the eternal Father, was bom, lived and died like us. In death, cruelly murdered and then laid in the tomb, the Spirit became alive in him, and now the Spirit of Jesus and the Father is alive in each of us since baptism.
The life of the Trinity becomes very ordinary in the love, care and forgiveness we offer to each other. It7s also there in the ways in which we try to better the lives of the poor, the depressed and the anxious. It’s in how we try to teach a younger generation the best lessons of humanity and faith, and introduce them to this mystery of God. We are active partners in the work of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit in the world today.
Slowly make the sign of the cross a few times today, asking to believe in the mystery of God’s love within God and for us.By the mystery of water and wine in the Mass, help us, Lord,
to share in the divinity of Christ,
who humbled himself to share in our humanity.
From The Connections:
As Ordinary Time resumes, two “solemnities of the Lord” are celebrated on the next two Sundays.  Today’s celebration of the Trinity originated in France in the eighth century and was adopted by the universal Church in 1334.  The solemnity focuses on the essence of our faith: the revelation of God as Creator, God’s re-creation of humankind in Jesus the Redeemer, the fullness of the love of God poured out on us in the Sustainer Spirit.
Nicodemus, a Pharisee and member of the Sanhedrin, comes under the cover of darkness to meet the remarkable rabbi he has heard so much about.  In their exchange in today’s Gospel, Jesus speaks of the need to be reborn “from above” and of the great love of God who gives the world his own Son, not to condemn humankind but to save it.

Today we celebrate the essence of our faith manifested in our lives: the loving providence of the Creator who continually invites us back to him; the selfless servanthood of the Redeemer who “emptied” himself to become like us in order that we might become like him; the joyful love of the Spirit that is the unique unity of the Father and Son.
As revealed to us by Jesus, our God is a God not of endings but beginnings; a God who does not demand the payment of debts but who constantly offers unconditional and unlimited chances to begin again; a God who does not take satisfaction in our failures but rejoices in lifting us up from our brokenness, despair and estrangement from him and from one another. 
In today’s Gospel, Jesus challenges Nicodemus to move beyond old, incomplete and “childlike” images of God in order to grow toward a more complete, “adult” faith that recognizes the God who works and moves from his Spirit of unfathomable love; the God who constantly takes the initiative to be reconciled with us, despite our failings; the God who is not removed from his creation but constantly present in every act of love and compassion and forgiveness.

Root, branch and fruit
A seed is a miraculous thing — so small you can barely see it, and yet containing within it the power to become the mightiest oak.
As a new planting season begins in most parts of the country, farmers and gardeners carefully place seeds in the rich spring spoil.  The nutrients of the soil, water and (pungent) fertilizer release the life within the seed.  Roots are established; soon the first stalks and stems break through the ground and into the open air; vines and branches begin to sprout; and, after much careful tilling and pruning, the first fruits and flowers appear.
Part of the miracle is that the fruit of that tiny seed both contains life and sustains life: the harvested crops will provide sustenance to you and me and the rest of creation.  And within those fruits are the new seeds that will continue the cycle of life in the next planting season.

Many metaphors have been employed to depict and explain the Trinity.  St. John of Damascus, a great Eastern theologian of the eighth century, said we should think “of the Father as a root, the Son as a branch, and of the Spirit as a fruit, for the sustenance of these three is one.”  Today we celebrate this central understanding of our faith — our belief in the God who has revealed himself as Father, the root that sustains life; Son, the Word of God who grafts us as “branches” to that life; and Spirit, the harvest of God’s love in all, binding all, and given to all.  

Fr. Jude Botelho:

In the first reading, God reveals that his name is Yahweh, which means ‘I am who I am’. The God of Sinai is not just the fearsome God. When Israel had sinned and broken the covenant, he shows himself as one who loves and forgives. He is forever the God of Israel and has bound his destiny to them. Moses his faithful servant pleads on behalf of the people: “Lord if we have found favour come with us! True, we are a headstrong people but forgive us our faults and our sins and adopt us as your heritage.” God has made us forever his people, members of his household. He reveals himself as the Father-God, our Abba forever.
 Invited to His tableThere is a beautiful Russian icon of the Blessed Trinity painted by a monk by the name of Rublev. It depicts the three Divine Persons sitting at a table. A dish of food lies on the table. But the thing that immediately strikes you is the fact that at the front of the table there is a vacant place. The vacant place is meant to convey openness, hospitality, and welcome towards the stranger and outsider. That vacant place is meant for each of us, and for all the human family. It signifies God’s invitation to us to share in the life of the Trinity. God doesn’t exclude us. He doesn’t talk to us at the doorstep. He invites us to come in and sit at his table. He wants to share his life with us.-Many are intimidated by the great mystery of the Blessed Trinity. This is a pity. We should see the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit as friends to whom we can relate, and to whom we can talk in prayer. We are God’s children. We are part of the family.
Flor McCarthy in ‘New Sunday and Holy Day Liturgies’ 
The short reading of today’s gospel speaks of God’s plan of salvation. The Father loves the world because of His Son, whom he sends into the world to reveal himself and his goodness to all humankind. He sends His Son not to condemn but to save the world. The one condition that must be fulfilled to be saved is to believe in Jesus Christ. We must believe totally in Jesus, failing which we stand condemned. Thus, in this passage from John we see the Father initiates the plan of salvation out of his love. Because of his great love he sends his Son Jesus Christ who carries out the Father’s will, becoming the instrument of our salvation. Later on in the Gospel John speaks of the Spirit as the Advocate that will remain in man and guarantee God’s presence and power for salvation. Today’s passage shows how God lives as a community united and abiding in love. Out of love the Father creates and shares his love with humankind; this love is concretized and made real, incarnate in His Son Jesus Christ and the mutual love of the Father and the Son, the bond between them is the Holy Spirit, which is given to us. We live the life of God, the Trinitarian life, when we live in love. We can live with others only if we live for others. If we live for others we constantly desire to be united in communion and share our gifts, our love with others.
Relating to GodThe four-year-old took me aback when she told me that even though her mother was very good, she often made mistake. For whatever reason, the sophisticated youngster’s implicit trust in a caring parent is already tottering. The loss is great. Humanly, we are made for trusting relationships. In the adult world, every time trust is undermined, we are all diminished. Trust can be misplaced and even well-placed trust can be undermined. Coping with such betrayal stretches maturity and love. Some cope by not risking trust again with anybody and so retreat into an impoverished self-centred lifestyle. Others are secure enough within themselves to absorb the pain and reach out again in trusting friendship, believing that we are called to a greatness beyond our limited human vision.-Such people have glimpsed into the heart of God. What makes God; God is that he remains always faithful to us. No matter what our betrayal, he continues to trust us again and again and to call us forward to the greatness he has destined for us. This greatness is to share the inner love life of God, where Father, Son and spirit live in an eternal bond that we call the Blessed Trinity.

Tom Clancy in ‘Living The Word’

Three … yet one
In his brilliant series The Ascent of Man, author Jacob Bronowski devotes an episode to mathematics under the title “The Music of the Spheres.” He shows historically how man’s ascent in civilization was marked by an increasing understanding of mathematical patterns which he saw reflected in the harmonies of music, for example, or in the motion of the spheres around the sun. One of the most fascinating geometric discoveries by the early Greeks was the fact that three fixed points, not all on the same line, determine uniquely one and only one triangle, one and only plane, and one and only one circle. Why this should be, we don’t know. All we can do is observe it as a fact and apply it to the real world in art, architecture, engineering and science. Even more mysterious is our belief that there are Three Persons, yet one and only one God. Why this should be, we don’t know. All we can do is accept it as a revealed fact and apply it to our Christian life.
Albert Cylwicki in ‘His Word Resounds’
Tuned to GodOne day a farmer went into the city. As he was walking down a busy street he suddenly stopped and said to a friend who was with him, I can hear a cricket’. His friend was amazed and asked, ‘How can you hear a cricket in the midst of all this noise?’ ‘Because my ears are attuned to his sound,’ the farmer replied. Then he listened even more intently, and following the sound, found the cricket perched on a window ledge. His friend couldn’t get over this. But the farmer showed no surprise. Instead he took a few coins out of his pocket and threw them on the pavement. On hearing the jingle of coins, the passers by stopped in their tracks. “You see what I mean,’ said the farmer. ‘None of those people could hear the sound of the cricket, but all of them could hear the sound of the money. People hear what their ears are attuned to hear, and are deaf to all the rest.’ We could be tuned into God if we took a little trouble. Voltaire said: It is natural to admit the existence of God as soon as one opens one’s eyes.’ And Abraham Lincoln said, ‘I can see how it might be possible for the man to look down upon the earth and be an atheist, but I cannot conceive how he could look up into the heavens and say there is no God.’
Flor McCarthy in ‘New Sunday and Holy Day Liturgies’
Trying to understand the TrinityHyde Park in London is a favourite place for soapbox orators. Anyone can go there on a Sunday afternoon and talk on any subject under the sun, ranging from Politics to religion. The famous English catholic layman, Frank Sheed, went there often to talk about religion. When he was once preaching there on Holy Trinity, it began to rain. He used the rain to explain the unity in diversity of the Trinity. He said something like this: “The water that is falling is water, but it can exist in three different forms: gas, solid-and liquid – that is, in steam, in ice, and in falling rain.” Of course, an analogy like this falls short of the reality. But it offers an insight into the Trinity. As there are not three different kinds of water but only water in three different forms, so there is only one God in three different persons. St Ignatius of Loyola, once in prayer, perceived the Trinity in the form of three musical notes which made up a single chord.
Vima Dasan in  ‘His Word Lives’

Film: ‘Les Miserables’ -The face of GodThe setting is France at the beginning of the nineteenth century. After Jean Valjean has served a sentence of almost twenty years of hard labour for stealing a loaf of bread, he is released on the condition that he report regularly to the police. On his journey he is given hospitality by a bishop, but then steals candlesticks and silverware from his house. When the bishop tells the police that the items were his gift to Valjean, Valjean decides to devote his life to helping the needy. He does not disclose his past and is so successful in developing a new town factory that, in his new found respectability, he is elected mayor. However, his nemesis, the unrelenting Inspector Javert who wants to arrest Valjean, is assigned to the town as Prefect achieved. When he assists an ailing factory worker named Fantine, he promises to care for Cosette, her young daughter. Fantine dies, and Valjean eludes Javert and takes refuge in Paris with Cosette. They live quietly in a convent for many years where Valjean is the caretaker. There are political uprisings in Paris and young republican enthusiasts join the fight against the royal forces at the barricades. Cosette falls in love with Marius, one of the republicans. Javert arrives in Paris where he ultimately comes face to face with Valjean. Javert is captured by Marius and his companions and placed in Valjean’s custody. Valjean refuses to take revenge on Javert and frees him. Marius is then captured by the royalists and Javert captures Valjean as Valjean rescues Marius. Javert cannot live with Valjean’s mercy; he frees Valjean and then kills himself. Finally, Valjean walks along the river, a free man.
Peter Malone in ‘Lights, Camera….Faith!’
The Power and life of God in usA father was driving his little son in a car. Suddenly, the son turned towards his father and asked him, “Dad! Is God – one or many?” The father replied, “One, my son.” Is the Father – God?” His father replied, “Yes.” “Is Jesus – God?” “Yes,” “Is the Holy Spirit – God?” “Yes.” “Then how can Jesus be His Own Father?” asked the son. The father thought quickly. He drove the car to the side of the road and stopped it. He turned towards his son and said, “You see the bonnet in the front. Inside the bonnet there is the battery. There is only one battery. Yet I can start the car with it, turn on the lights and also blow the horn. How this happens, I don’t know. It is a mystery to me. Likewise, God is one, but Three Persons – the Father, The Son and the Holy Spirit. It is a mystery, and we cannot understand it completely.”
John Rose in ‘John’s Sunday Homilies’
From the Collection of Fr. Tony Kadavil

1: "But that is impossible, my dear child:”

There is a very old and much repeated story about St. Augustine, one of the intellectual giants of the Church. He was walking by the seashore one day, attempting to conceive of an intelligible explanation for the mystery of the Trinity. As he walked along, he saw a small boy on the beach, pouring seawater with a shell into a small hole in the sand. "What are you doing, my child?" asked Augustine. "I am trying to empty the sea into this hole," the boy answered with an innocent smile. "But that is impossible, my dear child,” said Augustine. The boy stood up, looked straight into the eyes of Augustine and replied, “What you are trying to do - trying to comprehend the immensity of God with your small head - is even more impossible.” Then he vanished. It was an angel sent by God to teach Augustine a lesson. Later, Augustine wrote: "You see the Trinity if you see love." According to him the Father is the lover, the Son is the loved one and the Holy Spirit is the personification of the very act of loving. This means that we can understand the mystery of the Holy Trinity more readily with the heart than with our feeble mind. Evagrius of Pontus, a Greek monk of the 4th century who came from what is now Turkey in Asia and later lived out his vocation in Egypt, said: "God cannot be grasped by the mind. If God could be grasped, God would not be God." 

2: Explanations by Ss. Patrick, Cyril, John Maria Vianney:

The shamrock a kind of clover is a leguminous herb that grows in marshy places in Ireland. St Patrick, the missionary patron saint of Ireland, used the shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity. The story goes that one day his friends asked Patrick to explain the mystery of the Trinity. He looked at the ground and saw shamrocks growing amongst the grass at his feet. He picked one up and showed it to his friends, saying “Look at this beautiful little shamrock. Do you think it has one leaf or three?" Patrick's friends couldn't answer--the shamrock looked like one leaf but it clearly had three parts. Patrick reassured them, "The mystery of this shamrock is like the mystery of the Trinity; there are three parts but they are all part of one." Christians around the world continue to puzzle about the mystery of the Holy Trinity: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit - one God in Three Divine Persons. They use symbols based on the triangle pattern or plants like the shamrock to help them with this kind of “three-in-one thinking.”  

3. St. Cyril, the teacher of the Slavs, tried to explain the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity. He said, "Do you see in the heavens the brilliant sphere of the sun and how, from it, light is begotten and warmth proceeds? God the Father is like the sphere of the sun, without beginning or end. From Him is eternally begotten God the Son, like light from the sun; just as there comes warmth together with light from the sun, God the Holy Spirit proceeds. Each one is distinguished separately: the sphere of the sun and the light and the warmth — these are not three suns, but one sun in the heavens. So also, in the Holy Trinity: there are three Persons but God is One and indivisible."  

4. St. John Maria Vianney used to explain Holy Trinity using lighted candles and roses on the altar and water in the cruets. “The flame has color, warmth and shape. But these are expressions of one flame. Similarly the rose has color, fragrance and shape. But these are expressions of one reality, namely, rose. Water, steam and ice are three distinct expressions of one reality. In the same way one God revealed Himself to us as Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. 

5: Trinitarian design for medieval cathedrals: When the architect and engineer Aldo Spirito was commissioned to design a cathedral for the Archdiocese of Abidjan in the Ivory Coast, he used a number of architectural elements to reinforce, as in the tradition of the medieval cathedrals, the truths of our faith. Among those elements is the fact that the basic structure is triangular, so as to state dramatically the fundamental truth of Christian faith: God has revealed Himself as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. 

6 :Simplified explanations by Ss. Patrick, Cyril and John Maria Vianney:

 The shamrock, a kind of clover, is a leguminous herb that grows in marshy places. St. Patrick, the missionary patron saint of Ireland, used the shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity.  The story goes that one day his friends asked Patrick to explain the Mystery of the Trinity.  He looked at the ground and saw shamrocks growing amid the grass at his feet.  He picked one up one of its trifoliate leaves and asked if it were one leaf or three.    Patrick's friends couldn't answer – the shamrock leaf looked like one but it clearly had three parts.  Patrick explained to them: "The mystery of the Holy Trinity – one God in Three Persons: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit - is like this, but more complex and unintelligible.”     St. Cyril, the teacher of the Slavs, tried to explain the Mystery of the Most Holy Trinity using sun as an example.    He said, "God the Father is that blazing sun. God the Son is its light and God the Holy Spirit is its heat — but there is only one sun. So there are three Persons in the Holy Trinity but God is One and indivisible." St. John Maria Vianney used to explain Holy Trinity using lighted candles and roses on the altar and water in the cruets. “The flame has color, warmth and shape. But these are expressions of one flame. Similarly, the rose has color, fragrance and shape. But these are expressions of one reality, namely, rose. Water, steam and ice are three distinct expressions of one reality. In the same way one God revealed Himself to us as Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.” According to Tradition, when St. Spyridon of Trimithund was asked at the Council of Nicaea (A.D. 325) how three can simultaneously be one, he responded (with a little Divine help!) by taking up a brick and squeezing it. From the now-soft clay in his hands, a flame flared up, while simultaneously water flowed downward. “As there is fire and water in this brick,” said St. Spyridon, “in the same way there are three persons in the one Godhead.”St. John of Damascus, a great Eastern theologian of the eighth century, said we should think “of the Father as a root, the Son as a branch, and of the Spirit as a fruit, for the sustenance of these three is one.”  Watch:
 7: Trinity prayer of Tolstoy’s monks:

Three Russian monks lived in a faraway Island. Nobody ever went there. However, one day their bishop decided to make a pastoral visit to learn more about their religious life. But when he arrived he discerned that they did not know even the Lord’s Prayer. So, he spent all his time and energy teaching them the Our Father and then left them, satisfied with his pastoral visit. But when his small ship had left the island and was back in the open sea, he suddenly noticed the three hermits walking on the water – in fact they were running after the ship. When they approached it, they cried out, “Dear bishop we have forgotten the Lord’s Prayer you taught us. The bishop, overwhelmed by what he was seeing and hearing asked them, “But dear brothers, how then do you pray?”  They answered, “We just say, there are three of us and there are three of you, have mercy on us.” The bishop, awestruck by their sanctity and simplicity said, “Go back to your island and be at peace.” (Adapted from Leo Tolstoy- The Three Hermits" (Russian: Три Старца, a
short story by Russian author Leo Tolstoy (Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy), was written in 1885 and first published in 1886 in the weekly periodical Niva (нива).

8. of Eden Adam said, "Excuse me God, can I ask you a few questions?" God replied, "Go on Adam, but be quick.  I have a world to create."
So, Adam says, "When you created Eve, why did you make her body so curved and tender unlike mine?" "I did that, Adam, so that you could love her." "Oh, well then, why did you give her long, shiny, beautiful hair?" "I did that Adam so that you could love her." "Oh, well then, why did you make her so stupid?  Is that too because I should love her?" "Well, Adam, no.  I did that so that she could love you."

9: Wisdom from child’s mouth:A priest went into a second-grade classroom of the parish school and asked, “Who can tell me what the Blessed Trinity means?” A little girl lisped, “The Blethed Twinity meanth there are thwee perthonth in one God.” The priest, taken aback by the lisp, said, “Would you say that again? I don’t understand what you said.” The little girl answered, “Y’not thuppothed to underthtand; ‘t’th a mythtewy.”

10: Trinitarian pastor: One parishioner said, “The Trinitarian God is a lot like our pastor. I don’t see him through the week and I don’t understand him on Sunday.”

1) Wisdom from childs mouth:  A priest went into a second-grade classroom of the parish school and asked, “Who can tell me what the Blessed Trinity means?A little girl lisped, The Blethed Twinity meanth there are thwee perthonth  in one God. The priest, taken aback by the lisp, said, “Would you say that again? I don’t understand what you said. The little girl answered, Y’not  thuppothed to underthtand; ith a mythtewy.

2) Trinitarian pastor: One parishioner said, The Trinitarian God is a lot like our pastor. I don’t see him through the week and I don’t understand him on Sunday.(                                                                                                                   )

 Additional Anecdotes

1) The universal testimony: A good illustration of the Trinity comes from world- renowned scientist Dr. Henry Morris. He notes that the entire universe is Trinitarian by design. The universe consists of three things: matter, space, and time. Take away any one of those three and the universe would cease to exist. But each one of those is itself a trinity. Matter = mass + energy + motion. Space = length + height + breadth. Time = past + present + future. Thus the whole universe witnesses to the character of the God who made it (cf. Psalm 19:1). 

2) You ask me a riddle? The late Cardinal Cushing tells of an occasion when he was administering last rites to a man who had collapsed in a general store. Following his usual custom, he knelt by the man and asked, "Do you believe in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit?" The Cardinal said the man roused a little bit, opened an eye, looked at him and said, "Here I am, dying, and you ask me a riddle."  Call  them riddles.  Call  them mysteries.  There are things about life and faith we do not understand. I am not going to suggest that you resign your effort to understand. 

3) The undertaker.
There is an old story about a henpecked husband who went to a psychologist. He was tired of being dominated by his wife. The psychologist told him, You do not have to accept your wifes bullying. You need to go home right now and let her know that youre your own boss. The husband decided to take the doctor’s advice. He went home and slammed the door on the way in. He confronted his wife and said, From now on youll do what I say. Get my supper, then go upstairs and lay out my clothes. After I eat, I’m going out with the boys while you stay home. By the way, do you know who is going to tie my tie for me?  “I sure do, said his wife  calmly,  the  undertaker. Some marriages arfilled with conflict. So are some offices. Unfortunately some churches are filled with conflict as well. The feast of the Holy Trinity challenges us to cultivate the Trinitarian relationship of love and unity in our families and offices and parishes. 

4) Human mystery confronting divine mystery:
The story is told that Franklin D. Roosevelt and one of his close friends, Bernard Baruch, talked late into the night one evening at the White House. At last, President Roosevelt suggested that they go out into the Rose Garden and look at the stars before going to bed. They went out and looked into the sky for several minutes, peering at a nebula with thousands of stars. Then the President  said, "All right,  I think we feel  small enough now to go in and go to sleep." The wonder of the power and wisdom of God puts things in perspective for us humans. It was not an accident, but the result of a Divine Plan; planets, stars, plants, birds, fish, and animals were all created by God. And the climax of God's creation was humanity. How complex and mind-boggling is our physical construction! Chemically, the body is unequalled  for complexity.  Each one of its  30 trillion cells  is  a mini chemical factory that performs about 10,000 chemical functions. With  its 206 bones, 639 muscles, 4 million pain sensors in the skin, 750 million air sacs in the lungs, 16 million nerve cells and 30 trillion cells in total, the human body is remarkably designed for life. And  the brain!  The human brain and nervous system is the most complex  arrangement of matter anywhere in the universe.  One scientist estimated  that our  brain, on the average, processes  over 10,000 thoughts and concepts each day. Bill Bryson in his book, A Short History of Nearly Everything, says it is  a miracle  that we even exist.  Trillions  of atoms come together for approximately 650,000 hours (the average span of human life), and then begin to silently disassemble and go off to other things. There never was something like us before and there never will be something like us again. But for 650,000 hours the miracle that is uniquely us exists. One could spend years just dealing with the marvelous intricacies and majesty of God's creation. We are, as the Psalmist states "fearfully and wonderfully made." No wonder we cannot understand the mystery of a Triune God. 

5) Holy Trinity prayer:    
When the bishops ship stopped at a remote island for a day, he decided to use the days as profitably as possible. He strolled along the seashore and came across three fishermen mending their nets. In Pidgin English they   explained   to   him  that   centuries   ago  they   were   Christianized   by missionaries.  "We,  Christians!"  they said, proudly pointing to themselves.  The bishop was impressed. Did they know the Lord’s Prayer? They had never heard of it. The bishop was shocked. How could these men claim to be Christians when they did not know something as elementary as the Lord’s Prayer? "What do you say, then, when you pray?" the bishop asked. "We lift eyes in heaven. We pray,

We are three, you are three, have mercy on us.’" The bishop was appalled at the primitive, downright heretical nature of their prayer. So he spent the whole day teaching them to say the Lord’s Prayer and he succeeded although the fishermen were poor learners. 

Months later the bishops ship happened to pass by those islands and the bishop, as he paced the deck saying his evening prayers, recalled with pleasure the fact that on that distant  island  were three fishermen  who  were now  able  to pray correctly, thanks to his patient efforts. While he was lost in thought he happened to look up and noticed a spot of light in the east. The light kept approaching the ship and, as the bishop gazed in wonder, he saw three figures walking on the surface of the water towards the boat. The captain stopped the boat and all the sailors leaned over the rails to see this amazing sight. When they were within speaking distance, the bishop recognized his three friends, the fishermen. "Bishop!" they exclaimed, "we are so glad meet you! We heard your boat go past island and came in a hurry, hurry to meet you." "What do you want?" asked the bishop filled with wonder seeing them walking on water as Jesus did. "Bishop," they  said,  "we  so sorry.  We  forgot  that  lovely  prayer  you  taught  us. We remember only this much: ‘Our Father in heaven, holy be your name, your kingdom come . . .the rest we forgot. Please teach us whole prayer again." The bishop felt humbled. "Go back to your homes, my good men," he said, "and each time you pray, say your Holy Trinity prayer, We are three, you are three, have mercy on us!" (Fr. Anthony de Mello S.J., The Song of the Bird). 

6) Bad things always come in threes.
An old adage warns, Bad things always come in threes. Have you found  this true in your  own experience? That bad things (and good things) like to happen in community, in bunches? You say: we invent this connection by suddenly realizing that we got a flat tire on the same day that a computer glitch devoured our hard drive, shortly after our last contact lens just slid down the drain. I say: there seems to be something significant about the power of three. Today the Church celebrates the Triune GodFather, Son, and Holy Spiriton this Trinity Sunday affirming the truth  good things also come in threes. We recognize  God as power  (the Father), God as person (the Son), and God as presence (the Holy Spirit). 

7) But the machine can't ask me about my arthritis.
The true story is told of a woman named Mamie who made frequent trips to the branch post office. One day she confronted a long line of people who were waiting for service from the postal clerk. Mamie only needed stamps, so a helpful observer asked her, "Why don't you just use the stamp machine? You can get all the stamps you need and you won't have to wait in line." Mamie said, "I know, but the machine can't ask me about my arthritis." That's part of the wisdom of Christ's coming to our earth to live among us as described in today’s gospel (John 3: 16-18). He could relate to us in all of our daily needs. As we try to walk in Jesus' steps, we might do well to pray the ancient Irish poem set to an Irish ballad tune, which says,  

Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word; I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;

Heart of my own heart, whatever befall, Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.

8) Aggressively selfish child:
A report some years ago, allegedly by the Minnesota Crime Commission, painted a dark picture of human nature indeed, particularly with regard to small children. I quote: Every  baby starts life as a little savage. He is completely selfish and self-centered. He wants what he wants when he wants it his  bottle,  his  mother’s attention,  his  playmates  toy, his uncles  watch.  Deny  him  these once, and  he seethes with rage and aggressiveness, which would be murderous were he not so helpless. He is, in fact dirty. He has no morals, no knowledge, no skills. This means that all children not just certain children  are born delinquent.  If permitted  to continue  in the self- centered world of his infancy, given free rein to his impulsive actions to satisfy his wants, every child would grow  up a criminal a thief, a killer, or a rapist.[Cited in R. Scott Richards, Myths the World Taught Me (Nashville: Thomas Nelson  Publishers,  1991), p.  39.] It  is  to  transform  this  self-centered  human nature into a selfless,  God-centered one that the second person of the Holy Trinity took human form as described in today’s gospel. 

9) A dumb debate on God:
The following hypothetical debate for the mute and the deaf scholars is a warning to our pastors who think that they have explained Holy Trinity well to their flock on Trinity Sunday.   The Jews and the Catholics are having a debate about God and decide that they will each send one representative to prove that their side is right. The only rule is that words are not allowed. They decide on their representatives. The Vatican decides to send their best brain–  Cardinal  Ratzinger, the head of  the Congregation  on Faith and Morals while the Jews pick one of their best rabbis to represent them. As a sign of respect the Jews allow the debate to be held at the local cathedral. The time for the debate comes and the rabbi walks into the cathedral and up to the cardinal. The cardinal waves his hand towards the sky. The rabbi responds by slamming his fist into his palm. The cardinal holds up three fingers. The rabbi responds by holding up his middle finger. The cardinal then pulls out bread and wine. The rabbi then reaches into a bag and pulls out two fish. At this point the cardinal holds up his hands and walks away. 

After the debate the cardinal heads back to the Vatican to talk it over with the pope and the other cardinals. "Man, those Jews have it all figured out. First I said to him, 'God is everywhere,' and he responded, 'God is right here.' I was taken aback. So I held up three fingers representing the Holy Trinity, and he responded, 'We all worship the same one God.' I didn't know  what to do so showed  him  bread  and  wine  representing   the  sacrifice   of  Jesus,   and  he responded with two fish, representing that Jesus provides. 

The Rabbi headed back to the synagogue to tell the others his version what had happened. "Man, you wouldn't believe those Catholics. The moment I walked in this guy with a weird hat gestures at me 'No Jews Allowed.' I said 'I'm staying right here.' Then he said, 'You have three minutes.' I said, Get lost.' Then he pulled out his lunch, so I showed him mine." 

10) Why Isn't the Holy Ghost Included?  
A woman wrote to Readers Digest. She wanted to tell about an experience that she had when she took a young girl from India to church with her. It was the eleven-year-old  girls  first  exposure to a Christian worship service. The young ladys parents were traveling on business and had left  her in the care of their  American  friends.  The little  Hindu girl decided  on her own  to go with the family to church one Sunday.  After  the service was over, they went out to lunch. The little girl had some questions. She wondered, "I don’t  understand why  the West Coast isnt  included,  too?"  Her Christian friends were puzzled and asked, "What do you mean?" She responded, "You know. I kept hearing the people say, ‘In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the whole East Coast.’" 

11) God Is Everywhere:
A pastor was trying to explain to a little Sunday school child that God is calling people everywhere in the world to believe in him. "God is much bigger than we imagine him to be and God can use all of us in lots of different ways to do his work everywhere," the pastor said. "God is everywhere!" "Everywhere?" asked the little boy. "Everywhere!" said the pastor. The boy went home and told his  mother, "God is  everywhere! The pastor said so." "Yes, I know," said the mother. "You mean he is even in the cupboard?" "Yes," said the mother. "In the refrigerator -- even when we close the door and the light goes out?" "Yes," said the mother. "Even in the sugar bowl?" the lad asked as he took the lid off. "Yes," said the mother, "even in the sugar bowl." The boy slammed down the lid and said, "Now I've got him." 

12) “What?  Jesus  said,  “Who  do  men  say that  I  am?  And  his  disciples answered and said, Some say you are John the Baptist returned from the dead; others say Elias,  or other of the old prophets.  And  Jesus answered and said, “But who do you say that I am?  Peter answered and said, "Thou art the Logos of the Father, the Son whom the Father loved from eternity and Whom the Holy Spirit,  the eternal personification  of the love  between the Father and the Son, begot on the Virgin Mary. And Jesus answering, said, "What?" 

13) "I'm  surprised  at you:"
An English  teacher of a 21-sophomore high school class put a small chalk dot on the blackboard. He then asked the class what iwas. A few seconds passed and then someone said, "That is a chalk dot on the blackboard."  The rest of the class  seemed relieved  that the obvious  had been stated, and no one else had anything to say. "I'm surprised at you," the teacher told the class. "I did the same exercise yesterday with a group of kindergartners and they thought of 50 different things the chalk mark could be: an owl's eye, a cigar butt, the top of a telephone pole, a star, a pebble, a squashed bug, a rotten egg, a bird's eye, and so on." The older students had learned how to find a right answer, but had lost the ability to look for more than one right answer. The Holy Spirit helps us, in his wonderful Wisdom, to see more than we might have seen by ourselves. The Spirit's vision allows us wonderful options for expansion and new possibilities. It is the Spirit's Wisdom that reveals the Word to us. It is the Wisdom of the Spirit which shows us our sin, which guides us, which instructs us, which leads us in the way everlasting. 

14) Trinitarian design for medieval cathedrals:
When the architect and engineer Aldo Spirito was commissioned to design a cathedral for the Archdiocese of Abidjan, Ivory Coast, West Africa, he used a number of architectural elements to reinforce, as in the tradition of the medieval cathedrals, the truths of our faith. Among those elements is the fact that the basic structure is triangular, so as to state dramatically  the fundamental  truth  of Christian  faith: God has revealed Himself as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.


A preacher proudly boasted that he does not preach doctrinal sermons. They are boring he asserts and people do not understand or relate to them. Further, he claimed, I am a preacher and not a theologian. I get down do the practical issues and simply preach Christ crucified. 

His thinking is faulty at several points. First, he is wrong when he says that he is not a theologian. The fact is that everyone to a certain extent is a theologian. Theology is nothing more than what you think about God. Well, shouts one person, I don't believe In God. That then is your theology. I would also take issue with him when he claims that he does not preach theology but gets down to practical issues. In my thinking there is no difference in good theology and good practice. Good, solid theology gets down to the very core of our existence.

Finally, I would disagree with him when he says that we should only preach Christ crucified. I know that is what the Apostle Paul said but this preacher doesn't mean what Paul meant. He is saying that he only preaches about the cross and saving the sinner. I submit to you that the cross is not central in Paul's theology; rather, it is Christ. It has always puzzled me why some ministers preach the message of salvation to people who have been sitting in the pews all their life when they need so much more of Christ's teaching on life's other issues. There are many strings on a guitar. To make beautiful music all of them must be played and not just one. That is why in the United Methodist Church we honor the lectionary and the seasons of the church year. That insures a witness to the whole Gospel of Jesus Christ. How can one go through the season of Advent and not touch upon the doctrine of the incarnation. How can one go through Lent without touching upon the doctrine of the resurrection? Likewise, how can we embark upon the season of Pentecost, as we did last week, without mentioning the doctrine of the Trinity? 

Today is Trinity Sunday...  
The soul has its seasons. "There is a time to be born, a time to die."

The Bible has its seasons. The biblical New Year begins at the appearance of the first "new moon" of spring, when nature comes to life.  

The West has its seasons. The New Year begins in the depths of the winter, which is often when the new comes, in the midst of winter, the soul most often coming to life in the wintry seasons of life. 

The church has its seasons.  

In the church our "seasons" are not determined by climate changes or a vernal equinox. Instead of fall, winter, spring, and summer, the church calendar recognizes seven "seasons:"  

Holy Week
Kingdomtide (unique to Wesleyans and Presbyterians)  

Unlike those other "four seasons" that neatly divvy up the year into four equal parts, the church seasons are all of different lengths. Advent is only four Sundays long. Lent is observed for six Sundays. Epiphany and Eastertide both extend over seven Sundays. The week of Holy Week gets its own "season." But by far the majority of the church calendar year is designated as the "Sundays after Pentecost" - depending on what church calendar you are using, up to twenty-seven Sundays in all, with this week being the first of those many "Pentecost Sundays." 

The reason for such a lop-sided division of the "seasons" in the church is explained in part by this week's gospel text. Matthew 28:16-20 is identified as the "Commissioning of the Disciples" text. It is a hotly contested text, to say the least. The phrase "The Great Commission" doesn't appear in the Bible, and wasn't widely used until the early 20th century, when the phrase and the text became wed-locked forever.  

In these few verses Matthew manages to encapsulate the whole of his gospel story...
Understanding the Trinity 

This is Trinity Sunday. God in three persons--Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Do we fully understand this wonderful doctrine? No, but some of us will fight for it.

You may remember that ancient story about St. Augustine. One day he took a break from writing about the Trinity to take a walk along the seashore. There he came across a child with a little pail, intently scooping up a pail full of water out of the ocean, then walking up the beach and dumping it out into the sand, then going back down to scoop out another pail of water to pour into the sand, etc.

Augustine asked the child what he was doing, and the child explained that he was "emptying the sea out into the sand."

When the Bishop tried to gently point out the absurd impossibility of this task, the child replied, "Ah, but I'll drain the sea before you understand the Trinity."

There's truth to that child's comment. We don't understand the Trinity, but we're ready to go to war to defend it. Well, maybe not anymore. But there was a time when battles were fought over church doctrine, and even today churches are being split over whose interpretation of the Word is correct. And it's tragic.

King Duncan, Collected Sermons.
The Image of the Father 

Thomas Troeger, a Presbyterian pastor and gifted preacher, tells a story of an experience he had once. He wrote:
"One day several years ago I was in a department store buying myself a new shirt when a complete stranger walked up to me and said, 'You must be Henry Troeger's son.'

"I looked at this person and I said, 'I don't believe I have ever seen you.'
"He said, 'Oh, no, you have never met me at all, but a long time ago I worked with your father. I was a close colleague of his and when I saw you across the aisle of the store, I said to myself, `I'd know that face anywhere.' You are the very image of your father.'

"For several weeks after that, I would sometimes be going down the street, and maybe come around a corner, and catch my reflection in a store window. I started to see myself with the eyes of someone else. It is not like looking into the mirror in the morning. I would come around the corner, catch that reflection and I would think, 'That's Henry Troeger.' All of a sudden I would be seeing how I bore the image of my father."

And so it is with us.

Each one of us is created with the image of God indelibly imprinted on our souls, so that, in some miraculous and inexplicable way, the diverse expressions of God that are you and you and you and me all come together to illustrate the mystery, to live together in community as we do our best to display for the world all the possibilities that the divine imprint on all of us could mean.

Amy Butler, A Curious Community

 Who, Me? 

Unfortunately, most of us act like the out-of shape, overweight man who decided to take up tennis. He took lessons from a pro. He read several self-help books which advised him to "think positively" and "develop a winning attitude."

A friend asked him how his tennis was going. With a positive, winning attitude in his voice, the man replied, "When my opponent hits the ball to me, my brain immediately barks out a command to my body: 'Race up to the net.' Then, it says, 'Slam a blistering shot to a far corner of the court. Then immediately jump back into position and return the next volley to the other far corner of the court.' And then my body says, 'Who, me?'" 

I'd be willing to bet, if we could go back in time, that the first words out of the mouths of all the Disciples after Jesus spoke these words were the same: "Who, me?" You have to remember that the events of this passage actually took place before Pentecost and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. But the question is still pertinent. "Who, me?" 

Billy D. Strayhorn, Go!
 "Feeling Like..." 

I rather like the story Dr. Harry Emerson Fosdick once related from his own childhood days. His father had said to his mother, upon leaving the house one Saturday in the morning hours: "Tell Harry that he can cut the grass today, if he feels like it." 

Then, halfway down the walk, his father turned once more to add: "And tell Harry that he had better feel like it." 

Well, in its own rather humorous way, there is something essential about life wrapped up in that. For there is a difference between knowing we are supposed to do something, and 'feeling like" doing it. There is a difference between a sense of obligation and a sense of generosity. There is a difference between obedience and desire. And the one of those weighs us down, while the other lifts us up.

Christianity says to us, you do not know God, if you know Him only as a sense of authority over your life. Furthermore, you do not know God, if you merely believe intellectually that God is a God who cares and loves. 

You do not know God somehow at all, unless the same spirit of His authority and His love captivates you from within, so that you live knowing the spirit of it for yourself. You do not know God, unless all this that we have been saying about Him becomes for you your own way of life and not an obligation imposed on you by the Church, or by the fear of death, or by anything else. 

Paul van Dine, Not the Nature, But the Character of God - Trinity!, Cathedral Publishers.
Safely through the Storm 

Max Lucado tells the story about the time he was sailing with his son and a church friend of the coast of Miami. They were having a leisurely cruise and the weather was perfect. But out of nowhere a storm appeared. The sky darkened, the rained started and the ocean became violent. Max was terrified and looked at his friend Milt for help.

Milt was deliberate and decisive. He told the men exactly where to sit and gave them specific instructions. Last he said, "just hang on." They did what he said. Why? Because Milt was the only skilled sailor on board and knew exactly what to do in a storm. Until then Max could have boasted about his merit badge in sailing that he had received in the boy scouts. But, that was no comparison to a real storm on the high seas. He had no choice but to trust in Milt's directions...