“You’re Talking to People!”
The Blessed Trinity…it has been called the preacher’s nightmare, or the ultimate Rubik’s cube of theology. After all, what could a homilist say other than, “It’s a mystery?” Well, in fact, my first preaching assignment was – drum roll – you guessed it, the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity. My problem was not so much the ‘preacher’s nightmare’, nor did I suffer from a loss of what to say – or so I thought. Rather, my challenge was determining how to condense what I had learned over a semester-long course on the Trinity into a seven-minute homily. Seven minutes? Yes, that was the guideline we were given in diaconal formation.
Looking back, an old maxim suddenly springs to life: “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.” And I did ‘rush’ in – beginning with a review of the course binder full of materials: syllabus, lecture transcripts, readings, papers, and bibliography. Then there were the main lessons and themes: the Trinity and Heresies, Divine Persons, Processions, Generation of the Son, Spiration of the Holy Spirit, Relations, Circumincession, and Missions. When the draft was complete, it ended up being twelve pages, single-spaced, 12pt font. Yes, I was planning to talk fast, real fast! And so, I asked my wife Marcia if she would kindly listen to it and provide some feedback – which I secretly imagined would be entirely positive. Marcia came into the den and sat down. Her face was beaming with anticipation and encouragement. Her eyes were bright, eyebrows optimistically raised and she had a wide, warm smile as she listened intently. After a couple of pages, her eyebrows sagged. As I continued, the smile began to flatten. By the time I finished her eyebrows were compressed into a look of consternation.
“Well?” I asked. After a lengthy pause, she softly and cautiously said, “I think you should pray about it.” “What? Wasn’t it clear?” “I don’t know, it just doesn’t connect.” Now I was getting defensive. “But this is gold – great stuff! And, I already sent a copy to Fr. Chas and can’t change it now.” [Note to Seinfeld fans: I was goin’ with ‘jerk store’.] Then came her penetrating, signature line, “But David, you’re talking to people!”
Then she left me alone to think and pray about it. I slept on it. The next morning I knew she was right, and I tossed the draft into the trash and started over.
Please understand that I am in no way suggesting that theological thought and philosophical reasoning about the Blessed Trinity are unimportant. This was a great work of the early Ecumenical Councils which was essential in defining orthodoxy. But, jamming it all into one homily?
So, I began again – this time by meditating on a quotation from the diary of St. Faustina Kowalska:
“After Holy Communion, I communicated for a while with the heavenly Father. My soul was drawn into the glowing center of love. I saw the joy of the Incarnate Word, and I was immersed in the Divine Trinity. When I came to myself, longing filled my soul, and I yearned to be united with God.”
After redoing the homily I concluded with the following thoughts, and share them with you again today:
The Holy Trinity is that “glowing center of love.” Jesus said, “If anyone loves me he will keep my word and my Father will love him and we shall come to him and make our home with him.” Today, on this Solemnity, God is calling each of us to come, come to Him and invite Him to live in us more deeply and completely. He is calling us to open our hearts unreservedly to His love, which has the power to transform our lives. O come, let us adore Him, and provide that worthy home in which the Holy Trinity desires to dwell.
God bless you on this Holy Day,