Holy Trinity

posted 8 Jun 2020, 03:51 by Parish Office

Homily for the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, Year A (7/6/20)

When we begin our prayers, we normally start with the Sign of the Cross.  But have you noticed that we say, “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”, not “In the names of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit?  Normally, if there is more than one of something, we use the plural.  So whilst we might talk about one apple, we would say there were three apples, or whilst we might look around the church and see that there is only one paschal candle, there are many candles lit around the altar and tabernacle.  Of course, there are oddities and irregularities in English as well.  So whilst we might talk about one sheep, we also talk about two sheep, rather than two sheeps.  And then there are certain things which are dialect, so whilst, technically, we should say “ten pounds”, it’s not unknown for people to refer to “ten pound”.

But with the Sign of the Cross, the use of the word “name” is deliberate and good English.  There is only one God, who is three persons.  So the one God has a “name” which is Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  He is one God, not three gods.  It can be difficult to picture, although we might have heard of the shamrock;  it can be difficult to explain, because God can never be fully understood by the human mind:  he is superior to us, and we are inferior to Him.

Our belief in God as one yet three persons is a fundamental part of our faith.  Yet for people of other faiths, it can be something they struggle with.  The Muslims believe in one God and they also believe in Jesus, but they say that He’s not God, just a prophet, and they disagree with us about what He actually said.  The Jews believe in one God, but they reject Christ as the Messiah and therefore don’t think He is God either.  And then there are other religions that don’t have a place for Christ.  And none of them would regard the Holy Spirit as God, yet a distinct person from the Father and the Son.

We are invited to have a deep relationship with God, who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  In the Gospel, Jesus said, “God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not be lost but may have eternal life”.  In the year 2000, the Church released a document called Dominus Iesus, which re-affirmed the importance of Christ.  It caused a bit of a storm because it reminded people of the uncomfortable truth that without Christ, there is no salvation.  Without the death of Christ on the Cross, we have no way of getting to heaven.  It’s as simple as that.  The thing is, that when it comes to dialogue between the Catholic Church and the other religions, this fact becomes a bit of a stumbling block.  But we can’t ignore Christ or try to get around Him.  If the document Dominus Iesus wasn’t difficult enough for the issue of interreligious dialogue, then look again at today’s Gospel:  “No one who believes in him [i.e.

Christ] will be condemned; but whoever refuses to believe is condemned already, because he has refused to believe in the name of God’s only Son”.  So does that mean that if you’re not a Christian, then you’re damned?  It can sound like it.  It’s certainly a call from Christ not to be indifferent!  If you know about me, then follow me.  The bus is about to leave.  Don’t hang about and get left behind!

So do only Christians go to heaven?  Do only Catholics go to heaven?  Back in 1964 when the Church met for the Second Vatican Council, these were some of the questions they tried to answer.  To keep it brief, the Church said that Christ Himself said that we need to profess faith in Him and be baptised in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Since we need to be baptised, and being baptised makes you a member of the Church, then the Church is necessary as well.  But God is not unreasonable and inflexible.  So, I quote:

 “Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience – those too may achieve salvation” (Lumen Gentium 16).  

But note it refers to people who “through no fault of their own do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church”, and it says they may achieve salvation, not they will.  This is the case because, I quote again, “they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it, or to remain in it” (Lumen Gentium 14).  

But would anyone really do that?  We can speculate and say that it could be possible, perhaps due to us giving a bad presentation of the Gospel.   “If that’s your God, then I’m not interested.”  Today the first reading is interesting.  The Lord descended in the form of a cloud, which is an image of the Holy Spirit.  Then the Lord proclaimed:  “Lord, Lord, a God of tenderness and compassion, slow to anger, rich in kindness and faithfulness” (Exodus 34:6).  Who could fail to follow a God like that?  But Moses has to intercede to God for the people:  “True, they are a headstrong people, but forgive us our faults and our sins and adopt us as your heritage”.  We can look around us and say that nothing has changed – the same description applies to us as well.

So we turn in humility to the Lord.  What more could we wish than to live our lives with the Lord?  Perhaps the most appropriate way to finish is with the words of St Paul from today’s second reading: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”