Holy Trinity 2019

Fr. Jude Botelho:

The Sundial
A missionary from Africa, on his home-leave, came across a beautiful sundial. He thought to himself, “That sundial would be ideal for my villagers in Africa. I could use it to teach them to tell the time of the day.” The missionary bought the sundial, crated it and took it back to Africa. When the village chief saw it, he insisted that it be set up in the centre of the village. The villagers were thrilled with the sundial. They had never seen something so beautiful in their lives. They were even more thrilled when they learned how it worked. The missionary was delighted by everyone’s response to his sundial. He was totally unprepared for what happened a few days later. The people of the village got together and built a roof over the sundial to protect it from the rain and the sun! Well, I think the sundial is a lot like the Holy Trinity, and we Christians are a lot like the African villagers. The most beautiful revelation of our faith is the teaching about the Holy Trinity, namely, the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. But instead of putting the teaching to work in our daily lives, we have built a roof over it, just as the villagers did over their sundial. For many of us the Trinity seems of little practical value, when it comes to our daily lives. We treat it more like an ornament of our faith. 
Mark Link in ‘Sunday Homilies’

The Gospel will remind us that while we have the privilege and gift of being of the family of God we also have the task and the duty of living and sharing this life with others. If we are children of the Father-God, who always takes the initiative of loving, sharing and giving, then we His children must be like our Father, the first to love, share and give to others. “Go and make disciples of all nations… We can only make disciples of all nations if we ourselves are true disciples, witnesses and mirror images of the Father. We are called to be like Jesus and we do that by doing the Father’s will. Jesus was the obedient son of the Father. Obedience to His laws and commandments should characterize our lives. Jesus lived for His Father and we too are called to live for the Father. This life is only possible in and through the Spirit. Jesus was obedient to the Spirit and led by the Spirit. If we are members of the Trinitarian family of God, we will always be led by His spirit and radiate His spirit of love in our lives.

Our true inheritance
The ‘Taking of Christ’ by Caravaggio continues to haunt me. It communicates pain, distress, disappointment, agony, patience but, above all, love. It evokes a response of gratitude, empathy, solidarity, communion and love in return for such great love. Its power is stupendous. Its value is immeasurable. However, in a culture that insists on evaluating everything from sporting prowess to feminine beauty in terms of the money it can command, this painting has acquired a £20 million tag. But price is an unreliable guide to reality and oftentimes it deflects us from appreciating the true value of what life has to offer. In fact, the most precious things in life can neither be measured, earned, owned, proven or priced. They are pure gift and the greatest gift of all is the faith in God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Trinity is our human way of talking about the wonder that is God, revealed to us in Jesus and living in us through the Spirit. Living in that Spirit, we bask in the love God pours into our hearts, which enables us to love one another in the image of the Holy Trinity, in whose name we are baptized. Such is our heritage. Trinity Sunday is a good day to reclaim our inheritance.
Tom Clancy in ‘Living the Word’

An ‘interpersonal’ God
For people who are active members of a local Christian congregation, perhaps the following metaphor will be at once shocking and comforting. Our God is a committee! To picture the Three Persons discussing the feasibility of creation, the time and place of the redemptive intervention, the best way to keep in touch with the human community through all history, would seem to be accurate anthropomorphic theology and not simply poetic imagining. Christianity demands that we support one another, depend on one another, love one another. Our strangely fascinating teaching of a triune God implies that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit relate to one another in a similar way. There is nothing Christian about the absolutely rugged individualist who needs no one else, who is concerned about no one else. Perhaps there is nothing God-like about a Creator who does not need, and give support to, a Redeemer and Sanctifier.
Eugene Laeur in ‘Sunday Morning Insights’

Witness of community life
At an International Conference on Evangelisation, people from different countries were presenting their preferred methods in their missionary work. Some spoke of food, others spoke of housing, while others spoke of health and medicine. Between them, there was a wonderful spirit of generosity and of missionary zeal. One of the surprise packages presented came from a group of Christians in the Far East. Of course, they saw the need for food, for health, for housing, and they tried what they could to provide that. The most important thing for them, however, was, once they had selected as area in which they wished to implant the Christian message, the first thing they did was to send a Christian family to live there. Their first line of evangelization was always the witness value of Christian living. It had always been the Catholic tradition that its strongest message was the witness of its members in their daily living. This, of course, could be disputed, but there is no doubt about it, Christianity is more about attracting than promoting.
Jack McArdle in ‘And that’s the Gospel truth!’

Understanding each other
John and Josephine have just celebrated their fortieth wedding anniversary. Since their four children have left home and married, they have spent seventeen years on their own, a time they describe as “a new growing towards each other.” When they were asked why they still enjoyed each other’s company. Josephine replied: “We’ve always had a healthy respect for each other’s differences. And we’re still growing to know each other better. I just wish that we could have communicated with each other years ago the way we do now. But perhaps our easiness with each other now could only come about because of all the struggles we went through.”  Unless we settle for stereotypes, understanding other people is a lifetime’s task. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that when it comes to understanding God we can become paralyzed by the sheer magnitude of the mystery. The more we discover about God, the greater becomes the mystery of his presence and love. The considerable knowledge of the Church can never dispel the mystery of ages. Mystery means that we can never say the final word about God; there is always more to discover, there is always more to share, there is always more to experience. And each year, Trinity Sunday calls us to reflect on the life of God.
Denis McBride in ‘Seasons of the Word’

Heirs of a Family-God
During catechism class, a priest asked 6-year old Sheila: “Can you say something abut the Trinity?” Sheila mumbled something softly and softly. “Sheila, I don’t understand what you’re saying!” complained the priest. “You shouldn’t,” replied Sheila, “Teacher said that the Trinity is a mystery!” Not only kids but also pastors and theologians have difficulty in explaining the Trinity. Theologian Karl Rahner laments that most Catholics are “Mere monotheists,” and, after their 1989 deliberations on Trinity, the British Council of Churches entitled their document “The Forgotten Trinity.” Thus, Trinity Sunday bids us remember the Trinity not merely as ‘mystery’ but as precious part of our everyday life. Trinity Sunday reminds us that there is no ‘self-made man’; or, ‘self-saved woman’, for that matter! It is the family God who creates us, saves us, sanctifies us. May Trinity Sunday see parents and pastors reminding their children and congregations of the urgent need to re-member the Forgotten Trinity, that down-to-earth Family-God who abides in, and animates, our daily family life. And may all families continue worshipping and working with our family-God.
Francis Gonsalves in ‘Sunday Seeds for Daily Deeds’

One God in Trinity and Trinity in Unity
St. Augustine, the bishop of Hippo, spent nearly 30 years of his matured life in writing 15 books on the subject of Trinity. His friends waited for the publication for many years, but Augustine was hesitating. One day they surreptitiously took away the manuscripts – without final corrections, and published them without Augustine’s knowledge and permission. Augustine immediately made corrections in the manuscripts he had, and began to publish them.  Although he spent several years meditating on the Trinity, he was aware of his shortcomings in treating a topic so sublime. He said, “I pray to our Lord God himself, of whom we aught always to think, and yet of whom we are not able to think worthily, and whom no speech is sufficient to declare, that he will grant me both help for understanding and explaining that which I design, and pardon if in anything I offend.”
John Rose in ‘John’s Sunday Homilies’

1.     School's out. Summer's here.  

My kids have been waiting for this for weeks. All summer and nothing but swimming, riding their bikes, endlessly playing video games, and vacations. While our kids live in that world this summer we adults will be living in another. There is the economy and the struggle to keep Wall Street and Main Street happy and accountable at the same time. There are conflicts within our nation, not to mention the conflicts between nations. If there is one thing I have learned in life it's that everybody has their own version of the truth.

And we have to try and find the truth among all the truths that present themselves to us. It is very hard these days to know who to believe. Everyone is trying to lead us to their version of truth. In 1997, Nathan Zohner, a 14-year-old student at Eagle Rock Junior High School in Idaho Falls won first prize at the Greater Idaho Falls Science Fair by showing how conditioned we have become to alarmists spreading fear of everything in our environment through junk science. In his project he urged people to sign a petition demanding strict control or total elimination of the chemical "Dihydrogen monoxide" because:
1. It can cause excessive sweating and vomiting.
2. It is a major component in acid rain.
3. It can cause severe burns in its gaseous state.
4. Accidental inhalation can kill you.
5. It contributes to the erosion of our natural landscape..
6. It decreases the effectiveness of automobile brakes.
7. It is found in tumors of terminal cancer patients.
He asked 50 people if they support a ban.
43 said yes
Six were undecided
And only one knew that the chemical is ... water.

Truth. Pontius Pilate asked his wife: What is Truth? It's a question that plagues everyone who tries to do the right thing... 

2.     "Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!"

That was the thunderous directive declared by the "Wizard of Oz" to Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Lion. Dorothy's tiny terrier Toto had pulled back the curtain that kept the true identity of "The Wizard" a secret. Instead of being "Oz, the Great and Powerful," the "wizard" was revealed by the pup to be an ordinary man, a con artist, practicing the art of smoke and mirrors to impress the people with his faked naked powers.

Oz may have been a charlatan, but human beings have always been leery of coming face to face with a greater, non-human power. After they noshed on the forbidden fruit, Adam and Eve hid from God in Eden's shrubbery. Moses only saw a burning bush and got a glimpse of God's back on Sinai.

The Israelites constructed an impenetrable portable "safety deposit box" for God's presence they called the "Ark of the Covenant." Violating the no-peeking rule for the Ark resulted in death. Even touching the ark resulted in death. 

When the Temple in Jerusalem was finally constructed, there was a hierarchy of sacred space. There were outer courtyards available to Gentiles and women. There were inner circles available to devout Jewish males. There were sanctuaries and sacrificial altars available only to those in the Levitical priesthood.

 Then there was the "Holy of Holies" where the Ark of the Covenant was placed. The "Holy of Holies" was the innermost sacred space, partitioned off from all human access by corridors, rooms, and finally by a blue, purple and scarlet-colored curtain of privacy.

Once a year the High Priest of the Temple parted the curtains and entered into this "Holy of Holies," this most sacred space where the very presence of God was believed to dwell. No one else could enter into that space. No one else could participate in that presence. No one else could feel the fullness of that power. No one else was deemed worthy. No one. God's audience was very small. The barrier between God's presence and peace and the human condition was insurmountable.

Until Jesus...

3.     The Trinity Is a Mystery 
The Trinity is a mystery. God manifests himself in three forms--Father, Son, and Holy Spirit--the Creator, the crucified one and the comforter who lives in our hearts. What does it all mean? It's a mystery. The best we can do is use metaphors to try to explain it. 

I like a metaphor that Dr. John Pavelko uses. He compares the Trinity to our current obsession with multi-tasking. He points to some of the multi-tasking products we use, like the 3-in-1 Laser Pointer, Stylus, and Ball point pen he saw advertised. This 3-in-1 pen allows you to work faster and easier, according to the ads. You can enter your data into your PDA with the stylus, then rotate the top and sign a contact with the Ball point pen. When your work is all done you can use the laser to torment your dog.

Then there's the 3-in-1 Cooler, Fan and Ionic Air Purifier by Whirl Wind-Air. It will cool your air through a water sprinkling system, while at the same time freshening the air by releasing negative ions. It also uses a washable strainer to purify the air of all those microscopic particles that plague your allergies. 

Finally, to put all your work into a hard copy, there is the Dell Photo All-In-ONE Printer. It will make copies of your photos, print, fax, scan and photocopy your documents with up to a 50-page auto feeder. 

Dr. Pavelko asks, "With all of these multi-tasking devices, why do we have such difficulty accepting the notion that one God can exist as three persons?" 

Good question. Why as human beings, whose finest minds still can't cure the common cold, do we think we will ever have the ability to understand the workings of God, who is so far greater than we are that we could never fathom His nature?

John H. Pavelko, quoted by King Duncan
 4.     Our Harbor Master

When a large ship enters a harbor, it takes on board what is called a harbor master. This is a man who knows that harbor; he knows the length of it, he knows the depth of it. He knows where the hazards are. He knows where the tides and currents are; what direction they flow in and how strong they are. When that harbor master comes on board, he takes control of that ship, and he gives order to the captain who steers the ship. He is an outside expert who is brought in to make sure that ship docks safely. 

As we sail through the sea of life, we have been given a harbor master. He is the Holy Spirit. He knows the currents, the tides, the hazards, and the flow. If you will let Him guide the ship of your life, He will guide you safely through the hazards of earth, right into the harbor of heaven. Because He is the only guide you need. 

James Merritt, Collected

5.     Eternity and Trinity 

Clarence Macartney tells of a certain Canadian river which flows through a forbidding chasm. Looming on either side of the river are rugged, uninviting crags which bear the names "Eternity" and "Trinity." Macartney suggests that the opposing crags invite an analogy (you understand of course, that to a preacher, most everything invites analogy). "Inseparable from any true conception of God," he says, "are always the two doctrines of God's eternity and God's trinity ... The threefold experience of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit." The great preacher then goes on to conclude that both doctrines lie helplessly beyond human comprehension.

Larry Powell, Blow the Silver Trumpets, CSS Publishing Company ____________________________

6.     Who God Is  

When I was a student, we had an assignment: "Prove or disprove the existence of God" in ten pages. One clever answer used less than a page, and got top marks for the effort. The student wrote to the effect that the assignment was not possible using the rules of logical proof. For in using the available conventional starting point, we would only be able to use the things that can be observed and verified by human senses within the known created world. All one could do, the argument supposed, in that instance is prove that something in the created world was God. In other words, you could prove that something was God that could not possibly be God. The second part of the argument suggested that in order for such a "proof" to be valid, a student would have to be objective, from the start, about that answer. A student would need not to care if there was or was not a "God". Since everyone has a stake in the answer, one way or another, it was reasoned that such a proof was impossible to attempt.

The point of the exercise was to get the students to think about who or what God is. The reality of the exercise, at least for the student in question, is that we cannot approach the answer through logical thought, through reason alone. Now this is not to say that reason and logic do not have their place in the realm of faith. It is just to say that they alone cannot do the job. The IS ness of God is just too different from our experience to be able to fathom. So the language of the Trinity in the Christian witness may serve mostly to humble us. It serves to remind us that God is indeed beyond our complete comprehension. All the language that we have about God must be metaphor. Most of the language in the bible is just that, with one notable exception: "God is love."

Luke Bouman, Difficult Things

7.     Oh, Now I Understand

 C. S. Lewis once said that the most frequently spoken word in heaven would be, "OH." As in, "Oh, now I understand." Or, "Oh, now I see what God's plan was." Or, "Oh, now I see the reason for the trial I went through."
We do not have that luxury in this world. We walk by faith, not by knowledge. But one day it will be revealed to us. We will be in the presence of the Father and the Son and the Spirit. How can we be in the presence of all three at the same time? It beats me, but as St. Paul says in another place, "I know whom I have believed and I am persuaded that He is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me." (II Timothy 1: 12)

 King Duncan, Collected Sermons

 8.     Kierkegaard's Story of the Prince

 We affirm a belief in the Son, Jesus Christ. We say that God took on human form, came and lived among us, suffered the same trials that we suffered, experienced the same Feelings that we experienced. Jesus was purely human and purely divine. Jesus was not God. Jesus was God incarnate. There is a difference. Jesus never drew attention to himself but always pointed to God.

Soren Kierkegaard, the great Danish theologian of another century tells a story of a prince who wanted to find a maiden suitable to be his queen. One day while running an errand in the local village for his father he passed through a poor section. As he glanced out the windows of the carriage his eyes fell upon a beautiful peasant maiden. During the ensuing days he often passed by the young lady and soon fell in love. But he had a problem. How would he seek her hand?

He could order her to marry him. But even a prince wants his bride to marry him freely and voluntarily and not through coercion. He could put on his most splendid uniform and drive up to her front door in a carriage drawn by six horses. But if he did this he would never be certain that the maiden loved him or was simply overwhelmed with all of the splendor. As you might have guessed, the prince came up with another solution. He would give up his kingly robe. He moved, into the village, entering not with a crown but in the garb of a peasant. He lived among the people, shared their interests and concerns, and talked their language. In time the maiden grew to love him for who he was and because he had first loved her. 

This very simple, almost child like story, written by one of the most brilliant minds of our time explains what we Christians mean by the incarnation. God came and lived among us. I am glad that this happened for two reasons. One, it shows beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is with us, that he is on our side, and that he loves us. Secondly, it gives us a first hand view of what the mind of God is really all about. When people ask what God is like, we as Christians point to the person of Jesus Christ. God himself is incomprehensible. But in Jesus Christ we get a glimpse of his glory. In the person of Jesus we are told that God, that mysterious other that created the stars and the universe, is willing to go all of the way, to be one of us, talk our language, eat our food, share our suffering die on a cross. Why? So that a single person, you, me, might be redeemed.

And, grow to love Him.

Brett Blair
9.     A Dependable Guide 

Pastor Michael Walther tells of listening to a radio program (Focus on the Family) about a famous test pilot. This pilot was flying a fighter jet in bad weather and about to make his instrument approach to an airport. The air traffic controller called and asked how much fuel he had. "Plenty," he said. "Well," the controller said, "we've got a little problem. There's a young pilot who is not instrument rated. He's lost in the clouds, and we were wondering if you could intercept him and lead him back to the airport." "Sure," the pilot responded. He found the lost plane and pulled up beside it. He called on the radio and told the pilot to look out to his left. There the pilot of this small plane saw the powerful fighter jet, and the man burst into tears. As far as he was concerned at that point his life was about over. He would soon run out of fuel and crash. "Don't worry," the test pilot said...

10. A group of three young mothers who lived on the same street agreed to pool their time and resources so that they could help each other take care of their kids and at the same time provide one another with a little free time. It worked fine, the kids liked it, the fathers liked it (anything to escape from the demands of child-rearing), and, most important, the women like it. They discovered in practice  what they had heard so often in theory: it’s easier to do things as members of a community than as isolated individuals. They bragged to their friends in other streets about how well their little community worked and how everyone should try to imitate them. But then one of the women began *to tally up the hours she gave the community effort and concluded that she was giving more time than the other two. They added up their own times and concluded just the opposite. Indeed they accused the first woman of making up numbers so she could escape her fair share. Since they had all studied economics in college, they began to shout “free rider” at one another. Soon they were not speaking to one another. Their community collapsed under the pressures of success, resentment, and envy – in that order. See, we told you so, said the neighbors on other streets. Later none of the three could figure out what went wrong. (Andrew Greeley)

Prayer to the Blessed Trinity

The following prayer is read slowly by the leader, or by all the people if they have the text. The celebrant concludes with the Prayer after Communion.
Lord God, our Father
you are my God.
Let your wisdom direct me,
your grace keep me,
your love rejoice me,
your truth protect me,
your power guard me.

Jesus Christ, God's Son,
my brother and my Savior.
That you became man
is my joy.
I want to go your way;
your suffering be my victory,
your disgrace my honor,
your death my life,
your resurrection my comfort.

Holy Spirit, God,
you are my comfort,
convert me,
for I am sinful person.
Bring me back to life,
for I am dead.
Awaken me,
for I am sleeping.
Make me ready
for eternal life.
Give light to my mind,
sanctify my will,
give strength to my weak powers.
Be with me,
live in me,
stay with me,
Trinity worthy of all praise.

From Fr. Tony Kadavil's Collection:

1: 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.” Watch: )

2: 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 discovered 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).

3: “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 from 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 – comprehend the immensity of God with your small head – is even more impossible.”  Then he vanished.  The child 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 something of 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.”

4) Trinitarian Love the essence of family life: One day, while he was walking with God in the Garden 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.”

5) 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.”

6) 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.”
7) Lutheran satire about St. Patrick’s bad analogies (Funny You Tube joke):

22 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?” Boston’s Richard Cardinal Cushing (d. November 2, 1970, age 75), told 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, but 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 wife’s bullying. You need to go home right now and let her know that you’re 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 you’ll 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 are filled 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 compose 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)”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 God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—on this “Trinity Sunday” affirming the truth that 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).

6) “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 can 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.

7) 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 playmate’s toy, his uncle’s 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.

8) 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 I 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.”

9) Why Isn’t the whole West Coast Included?  A woman wrote to Reader’s 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 girl’s first exposure to a Christian worship service. The young lady’s 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 isn’t 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.’”

10) 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.”

11) “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 Elijah, 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?”

12) “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 it was. 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 that shows us our sin, which guides us, which instructs us, which leads us in the way to Life Everlasting.

13) 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.

14) The Sundial: A missionary from Africa, on his home-leave, came across a beautiful sundial. He thought to himself, “That sundial would be ideal for my villagers in Africa. I could use it to teach them to tell the time of the day.” The missionary bought the sundial, crated it and took it back to Africa. When the village chief saw it, he insisted that it be set up in the center of the village. The villagers were thrilled with the sundial. They had never seen something so beautiful in their lives. They were even more thrilled when they learned how it worked. The missionary was delighted by everyone’s response to his sundial. He was totally unprepared for what happened a few days later. The people of the village got together and built a roof over the sundial to protect it from the rain and the sun! Well, I think the sundial is a lot like the Holy Trinity, and we Christians are a lot like the African villagers. The most beautiful revelation of our Faith is the teaching about the Holy Trinity, namely, the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. But instead of putting the teaching to work in our daily lives, we have built a roof over it, just as the villagers did over their sundial. For many of us the Trinity seems of little practical value, when it comes to our daily lives. We treat it more like an ornament of our Faith. (Mark Link in Sunday Homilies; quoted by Fr. Botelho).

 15) Jesus’ brother, Isukiri, died in Jesus’ place on the cross and Jesus went to Japan : While visiting one of the members of one of the congregations I served some years ago, I was offered a cup of coffee, and while I sat in the lounge room waiting, I noticed something unusual.  On a table there was what appeared to be a shrine.  Inside was a Buddha statue with candles and flowers and food and other symbols.  As we sipped coffee, I asked about the display on the table expecting to hear a story about an overseas trip and souvenirs. Instead I heard a story about this person’s involvement in the cultic Japanese religion Mahikari and how she felt that what she was learning through this religion complimented and supported her Christian faith.  She told me how it taught her about karma, reincarnation, ancestor worship and making food offerings to the spirits of the departed, and so on.  She told me that Jesus’ brother, Isukiri, died in Jesus’ place on the cross, that Jesus went to Japan when he was 37 and he died there when he 106. The amazing thing about all this, is that this person saw no conflict between what she confessed on Sunday mornings when she said the Apostles’ Creed with us and what she did the rest of the week as she prayed before the shrine in her lounge room.  This reminds me of the young man who asked if he could go into the Church to pray.  Before the pastor could respond he quickly added, “By the way, what kind of Church is this?  Not that it makes any difference.  I don’t follow any particular religion.  Whenever I pass a Church or a mosque I go in say a prayer and plug into the Divine.  Any God will do!”
“Plug into the Divine,” like it is magic, a kind of pill that will keep us safe and sound!  Today’s feast reminds us that our God is a Triune God, one God in Three Persons. (Rev. Gerhardy).

16) Exploring the mystery of Holy Trinity: Explorers and the pioneer families did solve the mystery of what was out there beyond the coastal strip. In fact, people have been exploring the mysteries of our world on many fronts – medicine, technology, as well as what is out there in space. Where there is any kind of a mystery, people will try to solve it. But there are some Mysteries that will always be a Mystery. Today, Trinity Sunday, we come up against one of those Mysteries – God.  Who is God? Where is God? What is God? I can’t touch Him. I can’t say how big He is. I can’t see Him. The early Christians started talking about a Triune God. This wasn’t to make God more logical and understandable and acceptable to human ways of thinking. In fact, the idea of the Trinity intensified the Mystery and awesomeness of God. They observed that Jesus had a unique relationship with the Father and that the Holy Spirit had a unique relationship with the Father and the Son. Against all sorts of odds, against all human logic, and in the face of mounting opposition, the Church maintained that Jesus Christ is true God, equal with the Father, and that the Holy Spirit is God, equal with the Father and the Son. Who is God? He is our Heavenly Father Who made us, takes cares of us and calls us His dear children. Who is God? He is Jesus Christ Who gave His life on the cross to re-establish our relationship with God. He reveals the way to God and to eternal life. Who is God? God is the Holy Spirit in you giving you Faith in God and guiding you in your daily walk as a Christian. Faith in the Triune God acknowledges the might and majesty of God but, at the same time, trusts in His care and intimate knowledge of our needs and of what is happening in our lives. O LORD, our Lord, the majesty of Your Name fills the earth! Your glory is higher than the heavens. Let us make this our prayer: “Lord God, in spite of our unbelief and lack of understanding of Who You are, show us Your new way of living. Amen.”  (Rev. Gerhardy).

17) Holy Trinity prayer (Fr. De Mello version of Tolstoy’s Three Monks) :    When the bishop’s 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 bishop’s 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, Adapted from Tolstoy’s original story of Three Monks).

18)  Welcome in! There is a beautiful Russian icon of the Blessed Trinity painted by a monk named Rublev. The monk, Andrei Rublev (c. 1360 – 1430), was a medieval Russian who painted Orthodox icons and frescoes. His Trinity icon is considered the greatest of its kind, and one of the finest works of religious art ever created, depicting a wordless conversation between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It is based on an earlier icon known as the “Hospitality of Abraham” illustrating Genesis 18 which depicts the three angels who visited Abraham at the Oak of Mamre (see. Genesis 18,1-15) sitting around a table. But the painting is full of symbolism and often interpreted as an icon of the Holy Trinity. 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 one 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 invites us to come in and sit at His table. He wants to share His life with us. [Flor McCarthy in New Sunday & Holy Day Liturgies (Fr. Botelho.]

19) You don’t need to understand God for Him to take over your life
Thomas Edison, the inventor, once remarked: “We don’t know what water is. We don’t know what light is. We don’t know what electricity is. We don’t know what heat is. We have a lot of hypotheses about these things, but that is all. But we don’t let our ignorance about these things deprive us of their use.” The truth of that statement is real. Most of us do not know how an electric light works, how a telephone or a TV works, but this does not prevent us from using them. Let us try to apply the same common sense to our Faith in the doctrine of the Trinity. [John Pichappily in The Table of the Word; quoted by Fr. Botelho.]

20) “Holy, Holy, Holy”: Today’s “signature” Hymn is familiar to all of us. It begins,
Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty!
Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee;
Holy, Holy, holy, merciful and mighty,
God in Three Persons, blessed Trinity.

21) Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity Becomes a House of God: No one understood this better that Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity. She grew up in France in the late eighteen hundreds, the daughter of a successful military officer who died of a heart attack while she was still only a girl. She was an extremely strong-willed and temperamental child. Her frequent fits of rage were almost uncontrollable, and she was known as the “little devil.” This began to change after her first Communion, when she was eleven. That afternoon she met for the first time the prioress of the nearby Carmelite convent. The nun explained that the girl’s name, Elizabeth, meant “house of God,” and wrote her a note that said: “Your blessed name hides a mystery, accomplished on this great day. Child, your heart is the House of God on earth, of the God of love.” From then on, recognizing that God had taken up residence in her soul, she waged a holy war against her violent temper. She didn’t win overnight, but she did win, eventually, and she also discovered her vocation to become a Carmelite herself. Her mother didn’t like the idea, however, and made her wait until she was twenty-one. She won friends of all ages during those years of waiting, singing in the parish choirs, arranging parish day-care service for families that worked in the local tobacco factory, and also winning several prizes for her skill at the piano. She died only five years after entering the convent, at the age of 26, after having suffered horribly for months from an extremely painful disease of the kidneys. But her realization that the Blessed Trinity dwelt within her enabled her to suffer with patience and even with joy. As she wrote to her mother: “The bride belongs to the Bridegroom, and mine has taken me. [Jesus] wants me to be another humanity for him in which he can still suffer for the glory of his Father, to help the needs of his Church: this thought has done me so much good.” Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity had discovered the intimate, loving presence of God that He so eagerly wants to reveal to all of us. (E-Priest).

22) “As there is fire and water in this brick” 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.” (The great 20th-century Catholic theologian Father Karl Rahner, SJ, was supposedly asked once by a priest friend how he should explain the Holy Trinity when preaching. Father Rahner’s reply was simple: “Don’t!” The mystery we celebrate in today’s feast defies not only explanation but also comprehension. The preacher is left to reaffirm our core belief that God, remaining one, is somehow also triune. The preacher is further challenged to help his congregants (and himself) understand why that truth might matter in their daily lives.)