Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity and Father’s Day
Acts 7:55-60; Apocalypse 22:12-14,16-17, 20; Gospel of John 17: 20-26
Preached by Msgr Philip Heng, SJ at Cathedral of Good Shepherd, Singapore on 16 June 2019
Today, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity. We are celebrating the Three inseparable divine Persons of the One God, of our Christian faith – God our Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. The Trinity being a divine mystery is beyond our human comprehension.
However, we also believe that our Triune God, of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit is knowable, is reachable and personable. The Trinity is a God whom we can also build a relationship with. Our God of the Trinity is not an abstract God because God our Father has revealed the fullness of who He is through His Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, who lived amongst us, who proclaimed the Good News that it is His Father’s Will that all peoples be saved from their sinful and destructive ways. And, as in today’s Gospel, Jesus says, “the Holy Spirit to lead all believers to the complete Truth.”
How is the Holy Spirit going to lead us believers to the “complete Truth” in addition to all that Jesus has revealed? The answer is that God who is present to us and within our hearts, will continue to enlighten, empower and guide us to the Truth in the ongoing daily experiences of our lives.
There is a story of David, who was passing by a village one day and he stopped by a house and asked very humbly, “Sir, may I ask you to please give me some food to eat and some water to drink, as I have been walking for the past two days without food and drink. The kind and compassionate villager immediately brought food and water for the passer by. The kind villager noticed that when David finished eating the food, he spent some moments staring into the bowl of water that he was given before he drank it.
When David finally drank the water, he thanked the villager for his very warm hospitality and compassion. Before David left, the villager asked him, “Sir, I noticed you were staring into the bowl of water before you drank it. Could you tell me why?” David was happy to hear the question and answered, “Sir, when I asked you for food and drink, you did not hesitate, and did not even judge me, but treated me with such warm hospitality and compassion.
I can see that you are a God loving person, and your ways are God’s special blessings to me. So I must thank God not only for the gift of food and drink you provided. More importantly, when I was looking at the reflection of myself in the bowl of water, I was reminding myself that this same God is also within my heart. And this same God within me is urging me also to be compassionate and gracious to those who are in need, whenever I am to meet them.
My brothers and sisters in Christ, this story first tells us that, like David, you and I are called to be more fully conscious of God’s Presence in our lives. As David was blessed by God, through the villager’s warm hospitality, he did not forget to thank God and he consciously renewed his commitment to love God more wholeheartedly.
I know of a true story of someone, Jack (not his real name) whose poor parents had worked so hard to see him through a prestigious university. Upon graduating and getting a high paying job, he has sadly become ashamed of his parents who are poor, and keeps his parents away from his friends and colleagues. He does not visit his parents and does not even allow his parents to carry his child.
A parent can love their child totally and unconditionally. However, as with Jack, we see the very sad situation where, in Jack’s successful career, he has taken all of his parent’s love and sacrifice for granted, and has assumed that his career success is of his own making. In such a tragic situation, regardless of how much Jack’s parents love him, their relationship cannot be deep because it is only a one-way love. Similarly, if you and I are not grateful to God’s Merciful and unconditional Love for us, one day, if we are not careful, our relationship with God would also degenerate and even become as ungrateful like Jack.
Every person has a different relationship with God. The quality and depth of our relationship with God depends on how we relate to God daily. If we were to ask ourselves today, “Who is God the Father, Son and Spirit to us?” And, if we are not able to give a spontaneous answer from our hearts, then it is likely that our relationship with God is not very close and personal.
There are clearly believers who run to God only when we are in great need and are experiencing some crises in our lives. In such a situation, we would panic and beg God to solve our problems. Depending on the situation we are in, some of us would begging God to heal us of our illness, others would perhaps, be asking God to get us a job we need so that we can provide for our family’s financial needs. Still others would be begging God to solve their other problems and worries of their life and the like.
Let us remember that such a turning towards God, and begging Him for our needs is not wrong. Indeed, God would be pleased that we are turning to Him for our needs, instead of running to all kinds of gurus, and delving into all kinds of superstitious practices and living in the fear of being destroyed by the different trials and sufferings, and evil spirits of our lives.
However, if our love for God is sincere and deep, then when we focus our lives on God’s Word in the Sacred Scriptures, the Sacraments and the Teachings of the Church, and when God answers our prayers and bless us abundantly, like David, we must be grateful to God, and not forget the abundant blessings that we have received from Him.
And, if we reflect further on the reality of our lives, we will realise that what are today, and whatever we have achieved in life, we owe everything to God. If not for God’s protective love and abundant blessings, you and I would not be where we are today, regardless of what we are going through, or have gone through in our lives. Such a spiritual truth, insight and reality of the Holy Spirit, can only take root in our hearts if we have an open mind and a humble heart to embrace His Truth, where God becomes the centre of our lives.
On the contrary, one of the main obstacles that is preventing us from knowing God and with a humble heart is our pride. And so, if our lifestyles and attitudes in our lives reveal that when we attribute our successes to ourselves, like Jack in our story, and not see that we really need to thank God for them, then our pride have blinded our minds’ perceptions and seeped into our hearts.
The symptoms of such a “pride” are when we live as though we do not need God; He is unimportant and so, we push Him into the background of our lives . . . If we are not cautious of such lack of gratitude to God in our lives, we may end up developing a self-centred attitude of over-focusing on “Me and My needs and successes in life”. Whenever, such egoistic traits and attitudes rear their heads, the Holy Spirit’s promptings in our heart are being dampened, Jesus’ Light and Truth of the Gospel are being diverted, and the Father’s Love is being compromised and ignored.
I have no doubts there are many of us here are also like David or the villager in our story, even though we are not perfect, we have hearts that are full of kindness and compassion. However, let us also remember that the “holiness” of David and the villager did not come over night. In our story, we see David spontaneously thanking God for blessings he received. And, we see the villager immediately being hospitable to David who is in need. Where did such goodness of hearts of David and the villager come from, we may ask? What about me? I too would like to be like them.
The answer to this question is found in the origin of our existence. From the beginning, God our Father created every human person, in His Image and Likeness, and out of love for us. This image and likeness that God has created us to be, is not our physical nature and appearances. This is because when we die, our bodies will corrupt or will be cremated, and will become ashes.
I would like to draw our reflection on the Trinity to a close by reminding ourselves we are each meant to live with God, love God and relate to Him as His Children for the rest of our lives while we are on earth, and when the time comes for us to die, we will receive the gift of eternal life and live with God and one another for all eternity in heaven.
In other words, whatever happens or is happening to us, and however we are living our lives, we are meant to live it for God, because of God and out of love for God at all times while we are still alive on earth. And let us remember that our purpose in life is then, as St Ignatius of Loyola in his Spiritual Exercises says is to praise, reverence and serve God.
Finally, let us note that if we reflect on our human experiences, and on the history of humankind, we can clearly see that the temptations to sin and to reject God’s Love is present in the hearts of all peoples. And, the rejection of God’s Love is the root cause of all the meaningless and mindless pain and suffering within our hearts, homes and the world.
And such the meaningless and mindless pain and suffering can be averted and avoided, if we and humankind are to refocus and reaffirm and rebuild our lives on the Truth of the Trinity. And this is living in the wisdom of loving God our Father’s Will, as Jesus, the Son of God and Saviour has shown and taught us, and as the Holy Spirit the Third Person of the Trinity will continue to live within our hearts, and daily enlighten, empower and embolden us to live the fullness of the Gospel, while on earth, and experience the fullness of peace, joy and love of God that God our Father Wills to give us in our lives daily.
Msgr Philip Heng, S.J.