Sunday Sermon for June 15, 2014, the Solemnity of the Holy Trinity, Year A

Readings: Ex 34:4b-6, 8-9; 2Cor 13:11-13; Jn 3:16-18
In the Gospel reading today St. John tells us that God so loved the world that he sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might have eternal life. When we consider the gravity of our own sins and then consider the sins of the whole world, it is astounding to us to think that God loves us at all, let alone loving us so much that He would send His only Son to die for us. Yet that is the truth of the matter. We all know this in our heads, but we have to try to open our hearts to allow the full import of this truth to sink in and change us.

This becomes even more imperative when we remember that God made us in His own image and likeness, which means we are made to be truth and love and life. In God, these are all one and the same. In fact, when God reveals His Holy Name to Moses in the first reading, He speaks of Himself as being merciful, gracious, slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity. In God, these also are one and the same thing; they are all expressions of His love.

More than that, this revelation of the Name of God shows that God is eternal. His Name is translated as “I AM.” Not “I was” or “I will be.” In God everything is present and everything is infinite. If we bring ourselves back to the question of His love for us, we need to understand, therefore, that God loves us infinitely and right now. It is not a matter that He used to love me when I was young and innocent, nor is it a matter that He will love me in the future if I can get my act together. He loves us now and with a love that is infinite. When we were young, he loved us infinitely and when we are old He will love us infinitely, but for Him it is always in the present, not in the past or in the future.

This love causes a communion of persons if it is received and reciprocated. When we receive God’s love and love Him in return it is purely a gift from Him. Since we cannot initiate the love it requires His grace for us to receive it and return it. In this we can begin to understand the point of St. Paul’s greeting when he prays that the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship (communion) of the Holy Spirit will be with us.

The grace to receive the love of God and to be at peace with being loved by God results in the inflaming of our hearts to want to love Him more and more. This brings about the desired communion of the soul with God. This is also the Trinitarian life: each Person loves the others; each Person receives the love from the others. This giving and receiving in God is perfect, consequently, it causes a perfect union of the Three Persons. The three are truly one.

Our communion of love with God which, as we have seen, is only possible if we cooperate with His grace to open our hearts to receive that love, will automatically reach out to everyone else who is united to God in love. If a hundred human persons are united to God in the bonds of love and grace, then it is only logical that there would have to be a kind of communion between these human persons since they are all united in God. This explains the reason our Lord and His Apostles keep exhorting us to love God and to love one another. True love will unite us; so where there is division, there is a lack of love.

If we are going to love God and neighbor, that love will, by necessity, have to resemble the love of God. In other words, it must be merciful, gracious, slow to anger, rich in kindness and fidelity, and so on. We can all ask ourselves: “Does this sound like me?” I need to make clear that our unity with one another does not imply that we will agree on everything; you will still have your personal tastes, your own likes and dislikes. But there can be no disagreement when it comes to the truth. Because God is truth, we cannot be united with Him if we do not accept the fullness of truth. Also, we cannot be united with one another if we are not first united with God. Pray for the grace to be like the Trinity: to receive God’s love, to return that love and to be united in the communion of 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