We find ourselves through life in communion - Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

John 16:12-15

Today we celebrate the most important and central Christian belief: the belief in the Trinity, that in the one God there are three persons.  This belief should have the greatest impact in our life.  Since we are made in the image of God, in order to flourish as human beings, we should try to live like the Trinity.  Our belief in the Trinity should have a very practical impact in the way we live.  But, let’s be honest.  The doctrine of the Trinity is very confusing and therefore doesn't really change our life.  We often try to explain the Trinity by means of analogies, like saying that the Trinity is like a triangle.  Just as a triangle is one but with three sides, God is one in three persons.  This is helpful, but ultimately doesn't affect our life.  No one strives to live more like a triangle.  Today let’s investigate how our belief in the Trinity should have a very practical effect in our life.

In the Western world in particular, we often think that the more independent we are, the better person we are.  We think that the more self-sufficient we can be, the better.  Now it is true that as human beings we are created with a certain autonomy.  Consider this.  At any given Mass, how many people are present?  Say 700?  Now, how many humans are present?   700.  Each human person has their own humanity and if you do not like this homily you can pick up your humanity and go home.  At first blush, this autonomy seems like a good thing.  The more proficient I am at something, the less I need other people to show me what to do.  The more personal wealth I acquire, the less I need to rely on others for help.  In culture we tend to admire people who have stood out from the crowd.  We often think that the more independent and self-sufficient we are, the more we will flourish as a person.

The Trinity teaches us that perfection comes through dependence rather than autonomy.  The Trinity shows us that living in communion is more important than self-sufficiency.  Remember that question.  In this Church there are as many people as there are humans.  Now, how many persons are God?  Three.  But how many gods are there? Just one?  See the hitch?  Each of us possesses our own humanity.  It is not this way with God.  The Father does not posses His own Divinity.  The Father, Son and Holy Spirit share the divinity  in a perfect communion.  The divinity is not exclusive to any one person in the Trinity, all is one.  There is total dependence.  As Jesus says in today’s Gospel, “everything the Father has is mine”.  The three Persons of the Trinity only have a unique identity as a result of the relationship they share with one another.  The Father is identifiable as the Father only in relation to the Son.  The Son is identifiable as Son only in relation to the Father.  The Holy Spirit is identifiable as Holy Spirit only is the relationship He has to the Father and the Son.  In God then, in absolute perfection itself, we do not find independence, autonomy and self-sufficiency.  Instead, from the inner life of God we learn that perfection is found in radical dependence and communion.

We image the Trinity best and are thus most human when we make of ourselves a gift to others.  We flourish when we imitate the relationship of dependence, communion and self-gift that we find in the Trinity.  In attendance at the Second Vatican Council was a young Bishop named Karol Wojtyla.  He listened intently to all the discussion at the Council.  Years later, when this young Bishop became Pope John Paul II, he would often repeat one his favorite phrases from the Council: “Man cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself”.  This is the Christian paradox.  We do not flourish as a person through self-sufficiency or independence, by “looking out for number one”.  We only grow when we learn to make ourselves a gift to other.  We are made in the image of the Trinity.  We find our identity only in reliance on others, only in a relationship to others.  We flourish not through independence but by making ourselves a gift to others.

It is through small, practical actions that we learn to imitate the self-giving nature of the Trinity.  Simple actions help transform us to better image the inner life of God.  I would like to highlight two specific ways.  The first is by seeking to make our relationships “other-centered”.  We do this by seeking the good of others rather than asking “what is in it for me”.  For example, a mother who wakes up in the night to care for her child is being “other-centered”, she is making herself a gift to her child.  Also, by taking the time to listen to others more than speaking, we put other people first. In relationships we can also seek the honor of others first.  We can do this by rejoicing when others do something well, by trying to find the good in others and by complimenting them for it.  The second way that we make ourselves a gift to others is through service.  We can perform acts of charity in the Church, our community and our family.  We can help out in a parish group, serve at a funeral reception, help in the soup kitchen, pray for others, teach catechism, or help other students with their homework.  The possibilities to serve are endless.  The important thing is that we take small, concrete steps each day to learn how to make ourselves a gift to others.

Daily we hear many voices that claim to offer ways of becoming a better, more fulfilled human being.  TV advertising is full of this.  Buy this car and your life will be complete.  Travel to location and you will find satisfaction in life.  Unless you study at this school you will never succeed as a person.  Use this conditioner and you will discover the secret of happiness.  Trinity Sunday reminds us to go back to our source – quite literally – to discover the answers.  We flourish as persons when we imitate the Trinity by making ourselves gifts to others.  Today choose some very practical way that you can do this by making your relationships more “other-centered” and devoted to service.