11 June 2017
Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity
Summer isn’t officially here, but the weather certainly is. It’s not like winter, where you just want to stay inside with a cup of hot chocolate. Now it’s the season to get outside, to go on vacation, and just have some fun. School is out, summer sports are going, and high school grads are looking forward to new adventures and the life ahead of them. It’s the season of life; getting out and enjoying the thrill of being alive.
And so, it can be kind of a downer to hear our Scriptures today, and how “the Lord commanded” Moses, and Moses begged him to “pardon our wickedness and sins;” the Lord who reigns over us on his “throne upon the cherubim.” And there is the warning from St. Paul to “mend your ways” and, finally, St. John who says, “Whoever does not believe has already been condemned.” Commands, begging forgiveness, condemnation . . . those are all words we want to hear right at the start of summer, aren’t they?
On this Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, we celebrate (among other things) the relationship between God and humanity. To be “holy” means to be “set apart from,” to be “higher than,” to be “distinguished from.” And so, when we talk about the “Most” Holy Trinity we’re talking about God being so removed from us, so set apart, so much higher than us. God is the Most Holy one, so very different from us.
And that distance is only magnified by these words of Scripture today; how the Lord “commands,” how he sits on his “throne,” how he holds the power to “judge,” and how he is “in the temple of his holy glory.” For some people, that kind of talk about God can simply be oppressive—like a hot, muggy day that just drains your energy.
And that’s a shame because our Scriptures today can also be pretty uplifting. Like when we hear, “The Lord, the Lord, a merciful and gracious God, rich in kindness and fidelity;” and St. Paul’s call to “rejoice,” to “encourage one another,” and “be at peace;” and the promise that “the God of love and peace will be with you.” And then, finally, there’s that most favorite line (John 3:16), “God so loved the world.”
Now those words seem more fitting here at the start of summer, when we just want to get out and enjoy being alive! They’re not oppressive words; they’re uplifting and even inspiring. They encourage us to get out and enjoy the blessings of life. In some ways, they make it feel like God isn’t so removed from us, that God is with us, and that he knows exactly what our desires are, and that we just want to live, and live freely.
Again, we celebrate today (among other things) the relationship between God and humanity. But it’s a complicated relationship, maybe like between teenagers and their parents. Teenagers just want to live and experience life, but sometimes parents just get in the way, you know. Or, maybe not parents, but teachers or coaches, or anybody who is a higher authority.
Our relationship with God can be complicated because, on the one hand, he is the Law-Giver. He is the one who gives us the Commandments, who is the ultimate authority, the Author and Maker of everything that is, including each one of us. God is very definitely far different than we are; he is the “Most Holy” One. And, yet, on the other hand, he calls us his “friends,” his “sons and daughters,” his “brothers and sisters.” He even became one of us at Christmastime, and still puts himself into our hands here at the altar.
Our relationship with God can be complicated. But, really, everything that God does for us, and everything that God is to us, is geared toward one and the same goal: life. Whether it’s a command, or a guilty conscience, or a spiritual pat on the back, or a tender “kiss of peace” from God, everything he does is meant to help us “have life, life in abundance.”
As we stand here at the start of summer, and we’re beginning to take a break from school, or work, or we’re just looking forward to vacations and enjoying life, it’s good to remember that God comes to us precisely for that same purpose: so that we might enjoy life—not superficially, but deeply and forever.
Blessed be God who leads us from his heavenly throne, and also walks with us as the closest of friends, in the pathways and seasons of life.