Homily for Trinity Sunday
June 7, 2020
In the Name of the Father
We all know a great deal about the Son of God, Jesus Christ, and last week we heard all about the Third Person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit. But what about God the Father? Who is He, and what is His role to play? On this Trinity Sunday, I’d like to look at three things: the role of God the Father, our relationship to Him, and how that relationship should impact our relationships with one another.
So let us begin: what does it mean to say that God is Father? A couple things. First, it means that God is personal. He’s not like the “Force” in Star Wars. He’s not just an amorphous “spiritual energy” – no, He is deeply personal, which means we can have a real relationship with Him. Also, we call the First Person of the Trinity “Father” because He is the source of all existence in the universe. He is the source of existence in the Trinity (the Son is begotten by Him, and the Spirit proceeds from Him), and He is the source of existence of the world. He is Creator of all that is, and everything that exists only exists because He is existence Itself.
How beautiful it is to be able to call God “Father”! Once, St. Teresa of Avila tried to meditate on the Our Father. The first day, she meditated on those first two words, “Our Father” – considering how awesome it was that God invited her to call Him Father! That made her the daughter of the Creator! The next day she tried to get further in the prayer, but was still so moved that she could not get past those two words: “Our Father”. Every day for an entire year, she would go to prayer and seek to meditate on the words of the Lord’s prayer, but would always become deeply moved to the point of tears with just those first two words: “Our Father”!
What an intimate name – to call God “Father”! That means that we are His children! One big difference between Muslims and Christians is that Muslims call God “Allah”, meaning Master, while Christians call God “Abba” – which means Father, or even more intimately, Daddy. It would be unthinkable and blasphemous in any other religion to call God “Father” – and yet this is precisely what Jesus urges us to do. What intimacy! That we are among the family of God!
I remember reading a touching story about a father who used to come home from work and change out of his work clothes, and then he would invite his kids to go through his work pants’ pockets and keep any treasures they found – a stick of gum, a quarter, a pen, a cuff link. Fathers should be the source of all good things, who bless their children lavishly. Our Heavenly Father, too, is the source of all good things, who lavishes His love upon us. After all, Jesus said, “If you know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Heavenly Father give gifts to you!” Yes, good earthly fathers sometimes discipline their children too, but that is done out of love – just as our Father in Heaven disciplines us, His children, out of love, because He wants us to be holy, like Him.
In a very significant way, our relationship with God the Father mirrors our relationship with our earthly fathers. If you have had a difficult relationship with your dad – maybe he was absent or abusive – please know that God the Father contains all of the fatherly love that you lacked on this earth. Our desire to have good earthly fathers is because we long for the love of the Heavenly Father. Even if you had an imperfect father on this earth, remember that God the Father has all of the perfections of fatherhood, including infinite love and care for all of His children, including you.
For all of you who are earthly fathers, then, you have a responsibility to mirror your life on the Heavenly Father. St. Paul instructs men that “I kneel before the Father, from whom all fatherhood in heaven and on earth derives its name.” Fathers must always seek the welfare of their wives and children, sacrificing for them in imitation of the Heavenly Father. Fathers, seek to bless your family as much as God has blessed you – we can’t out-bless God! This includes disciplining your children and teaching them to fear the Lord, but never do so out of anger, but only out of love and a genuine desire for your children to become saints. Cherish your wife and kids, delighting in them, and being generous to them – as God the Father does to us.
Finally, calling God “Father” means that all of us are brothers and sisters. Thus, our relationships should be marked with charity to all – toward people we don’t like, toward people of a different skin color, toward people of differing political persuasion – all people are our brothers and sisters, if God is our Heavenly Father. No one is excluded from Christian charity. This is the only way to peace in our deeply-divided nation!
To sum up: to call God “Father” shows us a great deal about who He is – the source of all existence in the universe, and a personal God with whom we can have a relationship. Our relationship to the Father should be one of great trust as His children, as every perfect gift comes from Him. All fathers should seek to imitate the Father, and since we are all His children, we ought to have that same charity toward all. Truly, it is such a blessing to have a God who revealed Himself as “Father”!