Sunday Sermon for May 27, 2018, the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, Year B
Readings: Deut 4:32-34, 39-40; Rom 8:14-17; Mt 28:16-20
In the first reading today Moses addresses the people of Israel challenging them to think about what they might believe about God and about themselves in relation to God. The problem for the Jewish people, having come out of Egypt, is that they had fallen prey to the culture around them and lost their belief in the truth that there is only one God. They had begun to believe in the Egyptian gods and Moses was trying to bring them back to the truth of the oneness of God.
After pointing out some of the wonders the people had witnessed, Moses tells them they must fix in their hearts that the Lord is God and there is no other. This truth is central to everything else. If there is more than one god, then we are not made in the image and likeness of God. If there is more than one god, then objective truth is meaningless and relativism becomes the norm. After all, each god would be different and each could have his or her own ideas, morals, principles, and the like. That means we can each choose which god we want to serve and imitate.
While the truth is clear that there is and can only be one God, it is far easier for the human ego to reject this truth in favor of the idea of many gods. After all, if there are many gods, we can make our own god in our own image and likeness. We can make our god say whatever we want him to say. Amazingly, our little god will say exactly what we want to hear. This, of course, is one of the most convenient lies of the devil.
Because of our human pride and stubbornness it may take a long time for us to accept the truth that God is one and there is no other. To humble ourselves to accept His revelation, His moral laws, His unchangeable truth, and His love for us can be hard. It took years for the Hebrew people to embrace the oneness of God. Along with this, they had to embrace the truth that God had chosen them to be His own people. This may have been hard for them, in part, because it was the opposite of the surrounding peoples who choose their own god or gods to worship.
For us this truth has been taken to a new and more profound dimension. We are not chosen by God to be His people, we are chosen by God to be His children. Being the people of God required the Israelites to be obedient to a set of external laws. These laws were expressions of truth and were good for the people, but they were still apart from them. Being the children of God, we are brought into a relationship with Him. We are drawn into the love of God.
This is why the truth of the Trinity becomes so important. Even if we believe in one God Who chose us for Himself, we could think wrongly that He chose us to be His slaves or would force us to do things that we may not like. But there are several points we can consider regarding the Trinity that will put any such ideas to rest.
First, God reveals Himself as a personal God, three Persons, actually. This is unlike some Eastern religions with gods believed to be some impersonal force of nature or a nebulous concept regarding a “higher power.” Second, the fact that God is a Trinity tells us that He is not only personal, but relational. As human persons, we are relational by nature, but what a joy to know God is also relational and He wants to be in relationship with us. Third, God is love, so the relationship He has with us is one of love, not Master and slave.
Even more, as we see in the Gospel, our baptism in the singular Name of the three Persons, is a baptism into the Trinity. This means, as St. Paul points out in the second reading, we are children of God and heirs with Christ. No longer a distant people of God, we have been brought into the very life of God as His children. So, to make disciples of all the nations and baptize them is to bring them into the Truth and Love Who is God. It is not to force our beliefs on others, but to invite them to use their free will to choose to love the Truth. The Trinity, then, is the essential truth that sets us free to be who we are created to be: persons made in the image and likeness of God to know and live the truth in love.
Fr. Altier’s column appears regularly in The Wanderer, a national Catholic weekly published in St. Paul, Minn. For information about subscribing to The Wanderer, please visit www.thewandererpress.com.