SOLEMNITY OF THE MOST HOLY TRINITY – YEAR B
Our next-door neighbors, when I was growing up, were an unmarried sister and brother. Like my grandparents who bought our house, they were immigrants, though from Italy rather than Ireland. And because they were some years younger than my grandparents they lived well into my childhood, while my grandparents did not. Perhaps because the neighbors never married and had children of their own, they adopted me with enthusiasm. Uncle Sal and Aunt Mary, I called them; and their house was my second home in the days when doors were never locked. The deep red cherries that grew on the tree in their backyard were mine to pick. And they had a seemingly limitless supply of Dr. Brown’s celery soda on hand, as well as empty jam jars for capturing lightning bugs on summer nights when everyone sat outside. As they got older, I found myself clipping their side of the hedge as well as ours, and shoveling their sidewalk, not because they paid me or even aske me, but because they were Aunt Mary and Uncle Sal, not so much neighbors as family.
Today’s Feast of the Most Holy Trinity suggests that when we live close by the One True God, and he to us, he regards us as his family rather than as creatures. For centuries, the Jewish people knew that they were, so to speak, God’s next-door-neighbors. Moses taught them that in the Book of Deuteronomy while persuading them to mind their manners. “Is there any nation that ever had a god so close to it as the Lord God is to us?” Moses asked them. Then he reviewed how God has been with them in slavery, in struggle and wandering, in war and terror, in signs and wonders.
Jesus took that one giant step further. He revealed the great truth that what God wants is children, He does not want slaves or servants, subservient, gloomy, life-denying. He wants children upon whom he can lavish his gifts and with whom he can share everything: life, love, friendship, intimacy, eternity. When Jesus was baptized, the Father cried out, “You are my Son, my beloved.” At the moment of Resurrection, the Father repeated, “You are my son, this day I have begotten you.”
On Pentecost Jesus poured out on the apostles and disciples his promised gift of the Holy Spirit. St. Paul fairly sings of that Spirit in his magnificent Letter to the Romans. “You did not receive a spirit of slavery leading you into fear, You received the Spirit of Adoption through whom you cry out, Abba, Father… If we are children, we are heirs as well, heir of God, heirs with Christ. All things are ours, and we are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.” We are the recipients of God’s tender, generous, welcoming love, as I was of Mary and Sal’s. We can be as easily at home in his house, as I was in theirs.
Today we celebrate the deepest truth about the God whom we worship. It is the fact that he is One who lives in the intimacy of loving kinship. Being in communion constitutes God’s very being: three divine persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit in loving communion, always going forth in love and receiving love, irrepressibly friendly, kindly, steadfast, faithful, compassionate and companionable. And we are drawn into the very center of unimaginable love by reason of our Baptism.
Because we live in this circle of love, we are free to give ourselves to others, even to the point of making the supreme sacrifice like the heroic men and women whom we remember and honor this weekend of Memorial Day. And so, we pray with the Psalmist, “May your kindness be on us who put all our hope in you.”