Homily for the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity
The Liturgy today honors the Most Holy Trinity. One God, three persons. As Saint John said, “God is love.” God is the love that flows between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God has expanded this love dynamic into the world. God wants nothing more than to bring you into this love.
Yet too often, we don’t feel like we belong in this love. When life gets hard or or discouraging, many cry out at night with inexpressible groanings to God with this question: Do you love me?
It is the question that trumps all of the other questions.
It is a question that I know in my head that the answer is yes. Indeed, God loves me. But in my heart, I struggle to appreciate the depth of this love and how it can change my life
The question echoes deep within many I have met for spiritual direction. We start out talking about life and its various activities. Then we go deeper and explore issues like impatience, anger, and betrayal. Then we go deeper to trust, control, and pride. Then I’ll ask, “What are the reasons lack of trust, or this need to control?” Oftentimes the same profound question surfaces: “Does God love me?” because I don’t feel beloved, I don’t think I am not lovable, and looking at the panorama of my life, there is no way God can’t possibly love me.
The gospel reading today is well-known: “For God so loved the world…” (Jn 3:16) In a way it is an answer to this preeminent question. In context, Jesus is talking to Nicodemus. Nicodemus might also have been crying out to God the very same question. Do you love me?
Though Nicodemus came to Jesus with other questions, Jesus knew the question Nicodemus held in his heart: “Does God love me? I have made all of these sacrifices to be a Phariaisee, but see nothing but ruin and pain for my people. Yet if God loves me, then maybe I can carry on.”
Jesus answers the question with what is called the ‘little gospel’: “God so loved the world…” In other words, God doesn’t just love you, Nicodemus, or the Pharaisees, or the Jews, or the Gentiles. God so loved the world!
As with Nicodemus, we often cry out to God with the same question. If you love me, then my suffering has meaning. If you love me, then my life has a purpose. If you love me, then there is no place for worry and anxiety. If you love me, I can forgive this person. Your love is greater than all of the betrayals, hurts, confusion, dysfunction, and chaos in my life and in this world.
To the question in the heart of Nicodemus and at times in the heart of you and me: “Do you love me?”, Jesus answers “God so loved the word…” and God so loves you.
What is an image for this dynamism of love? One image of the Trinity emerges in Exodus. (34:4-9) It is a cloud. Moses is on the top of Mount Sanai holding the Ten Commandments. This cloud comes, surrounds him, and God is made present.
Moses then says to God, “Come along in our company.” In other words, Moses asks God to extend this cloud of kindness to a ‘stiff-necked people’. Extend this cloud of mercy and “pardon our wickedness.” Extend this cloud of fidelity and “receive us as your own.”
In a way, God does just this in the Gospel. God so loved the world he sent his Son like a cloud so that all who believe might have life.
The readings in today’s liturgy lay out the way God relates to you and I and to all the world. God tells Moses that the Lord is “merciful and gracious, slow to anger and rich in kindness.
How shall we respond? We need to stay in the ‘cloud’ We need to imitate the way God relates us. We need to become ‘cloud people’. We too have to be “kind and merciful, slow to anger, and rich in kindness.”
Saint Paul also describes life in the cloud: He says, “Brothers and sisters, rejoice.” He continues with instruction on life in the cloud: “Mend your ways, encourage one another, agree with one another, live in peace.” This is the way God relates to us, and the way God wants us to relate to each other. If we do, Saint Paul continues, “THEN the God of love and peace will be with you.”
God wants nothing more than to have you and me enter this cloud, this dynamism of love between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The way we do this is to become more like the cloud – “rich in kindness and fidelity” – and less like the storms in our life.
When we experience God’s mercy and graciousness, we’ll know the answer to the question: Do you love me? Yes Lord, you love me. And I love you.
In the words of Saint Paul: May “the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.” (2 Cor 13:13)