Exodus 34:4-6,8-9; 2 Corinthians 13:7-13: John 3:16-18
Saint john Baptist de la Salle June 4, 2023
Today, this weekend, what we are celebrating is called Trinity Sunday. This also happens to be, June 4th, the 40th anniversary of my ordination as a priest. It is also for me, the date of my mother’s birthday, June 4, 1923. When I was born, my father was still in Europe, fighting in World War II, and I did not get to meet him until I was 2 years old. For this reason, I believed that I had a closer, more intimate relationship with my mother. It was not until after my mother died in March of 2006, that I began to realize how valuable my father’s relationship was to me.
I had spent most of my life in conversation, mostly with my mother, and only her death would make me realize just how much I missed talking with her. Perhaps, in losing one parent, we can begin to realize how valuable the remaining relationship is to us. Of course, we have other relationships as well, like our spouse, child, or close friend. But they are not our parents, because a parent is someone so much like you, yet not you. However, all human love is less than perfect, and sometimes we feel compelled to separate ourselves from our spouses or parents.
So, why is the voice of a parent, a chat with them, so valuable to us? Why do we long for one more conversation, even after death or dementia has made that impossible? Perhaps because your parents are so close to being who you are. In short, your parents made you physically and spiritually, they have always been there, and they love you. Yes, your parents shared your life, but they are not you. Therein lies the joy of talking with them in good times and in bad, we naturally want to go to them, because we came from them. A parent is a human trace of the divine mystery we call the Most Holy Trinity, perhaps the closest image that earth can offer of God.
Trinity Sunday is not about what the Church teaches, so much as it is a reminder that we are children of a personal God. God who is Father, Son, and Spirit, a God whose inner life is based on relationships. God is not male, but the language of “Father” is used to show the personal nature of God. We could use the word “Creator,” but that would make God a function. God is not a set of functions, but a personal relationship.
We are most tempted to treat God as a functionary, giving us what we want, causing things to happen, teaching us things. But first and foremost, God is a parent, a spouse, a friend, a brother, a sister. Letting God be personal, relatable, also makes us more human, and helps us understand what it means to be made in God’s image and likeness. This is why our relationship of parent, spouse, friend, mirrors the Trinity. Although parents are our first relationship, over the years their love for us gives way to other relationships.
Unlike our Triune God, parents cannot be all that their children will ever need. Their thoughts and prayers for us have returned to the heart of the Trinity, from which they first emerged. Our parents loved us to the end, and now their work is done. We pray to the God, who like our father, mother, spouse, loves us into being. We pray to the God, who is as real as the child who reaches out and holds our hand. We pray to the God, who like our best friend walks with us when no one else will. We pray to our God, who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.