Homily for Trinity Sunday
May 31, 2015
The Trinity and the Family
One day St. Augustine, the brilliant theologian and Church Father, was trying to figure out the Trinity. He was deep in thought, walking along the beaches along the Mediterranean Sea, when all of a sudden he came upon a boy who was taking a bucket of water, and dumping it into a hole he had dug in the sand. He then went back to the ocean, got another bucketful of water, and dumped it again into the hole. He kept doing this – filling the bucket from the sea, then emptying it into the hole. After some time, St. Augustine asked him, “What are you doing?”
The boy answered, “I’m going to fit the ocean into this hole.”
Augustine laughed and said, “That’s impossible! The ocean will never fit into your little hole.”
The boy looked at him most seriously and said, “It will be easier for me to fit the ocean into this hole than for you to figure out the mystery of the Trinity.” Augustine realized that the boy was actually a vision of an angel.
A mystery of our faith, however, doesn’t mean that we can’t say anything about it. Mystery simply means that we can never say everything about it. It’s like the boy and the ocean – he could always go back and take more water from the ocean; he’ll never finish emptying it out. Likewise, every time we think about a mystery of our faith – like the depths of God’s love, the redemption of the Cross, the joys of Heaven, or the Trinity – we will always be able to discover new and deeper aspects of these truths that we believe.
In a nutshell, the mystery of the Trinity means that we believe in one God, Who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It’s not three gods, but it’s three Persons in one God. It’s kind of like water – we have liquid water, steam, and ice. All three are water, but they are water acting in different ways. Likewise, the Father, Son, and Spirit are all God – but they have distinct characteristics and they act in different ways. The Father is the Creator, the Son redeemed us on the Cross, and the Spirit dwells within our souls to make us holy.
But the Trinity isn’t just some out-there, abstract thought. It has very practical consequences, because there is something on earth that resembles the Trinity very closely: the human family.
You see, the Trinity shows us that God is not some isolated, anti-social individual sitting in a distant heaven somewhere. The fact that God is Father, Son, and Spirit means that He is a community of love. The Father loves the Son perfectly and gives all things to Him, and the Son loves the Father perfectly and gives His very life back to the Father as a gift. This love is so intense that the Holy Spirit proceeds from their love.
That is the same way a family is supposed to operate. A family is supposed to be a community of self-giving love. The husband must love his wife, pouring out his life in service and sacrifice for her. The wife, in turn, opens herself to her husband in vulnerable trust and love, giving her life to him as well. This love is so intense that it can create a third person – a child, the result of loving self-gift.
The Trinity’s love for each other naturally spilled over, so They created the world on which to lavish their love. Likewise, a human family is supposed to be a place where God’s love is channeled into the world.
A lot of modern mainstream media want to redefine the human family in all sorts of bizarre ways, and they often reject Catholic teaching about family life, human sexuality, and love itself. But when we see the human family as a reflection of the Trinity – the great dignity of the family – then we can begin to see that Church teaching makes sense. Married love must be free, faithful, total, and fruitful, mirroring the Trinity’s free, total, faithful, and fruitful love for each other. Human sexuality must be open to life, since life and love are inseparable. Marriage must be permanent, because a community of love should not be destroyed. Children and parents must be willing to give of themselves in sacrifice to each other, just as the Father, Son, and Spirit are constantly pouring Themselves out for the Others. In a word, a faithful Catholic family is supposed to be a witness to the world of the love of God!
My friends, allow God’s grace to transform your family, that you may mirror the Trinity!