Happy Trinity Sunday! We must love the Trinity with great fervor, but I think Moses in the first reading indicates a challenge. He is describing the great miracles that the Israelites have witnessed, but he has to remind them. We have received great miracles and gifts as well, but most of us have not seen physical manifestations of the miraculous. It is even easier to forget. All of our lives and everything in the world is somehow given to us, and yet how easy it is to ball the whole thing up and just to treat it all as “reality.” It can all seem too overwhelming. I recently saw this spoof of a reality contest show like The Voice which seemed to demonstrate a similar overwhelming amount of gift. Perhaps you’ve seen one of these shows where the host or judge found out the backstory to the contestant and then surprises them with over-the-top undeserved gifts and they just can’t keep from going crazy with gratitude.
The parody opens and of this panel, the middle judge says, “You’ve all come so very far, but now it’s time for us to say goodbye to one of you. First off, Katinka…Katinka what happened?!” And you see between these two hip young contestants there is this old woman looking like a homeless person wearing all her winter clothes – a big coat, scarf, finger-less gloves, even a stocking cap. Katinka is looking downcast at the ground holding her hands together and as she comes forward the judge says to her, “Yes, Katinka, what happened? Katinka you broke down in the middle of your song darling.” Katinka shakes her head holding back tears, “I’m so sorry. I just got news that my mother is very sick and I have not seen her in many years.” The judge sounds concerned, “Oh, my goodness…well, um Katinka we actually heard about this and we wanted to help Katinka so we actually flew your mother in from Uzbekistan and she’s actually backstage right now watching the show. Come on out mum!” This older woman comes in smiling and they hug while this dreamy wish fulfillment music plays….but the judge continues, “Katinka, that’s not the only thing…we got her treated by the best doctors and she is now 100% healthy” and the mom does a cart-wheel… “Now, Katinka in the process of going to your mom’s home, we were completely shocked and appalled by the condition of it….so we decided to renovate your shack and include all new state of the art technology and appliances….and this modern American two story home is in the place of her home…I know it seems like we should be done Katinka, but last night while you were sleeping we had New York’s best hairstylist come in and give you the biggest makeover of your life and the stylist comes in and takes the hat off and reveals shiny blond hair. And it keeps going on as she keeps freaking out more and more….until in the end she’s off the show because she can’t sing.
It’s ridiculous, but I say there’s a grain of truth in the whole thing in for us whenever we see God as this kind of one dimensional grand wish fulfiller….because in the end, if we can’t sing we’re off the show. When it comes to our faith, the ability to “sing” might be described as the ability to love God for His own sake. To love Him with His own type of pure love. Now, suppose one of the reasons that we forget the Trinity is if we are supposed to reflect the Trinity….uh, I’m only one person – how I am supposed to see in my life this Trinitarian unity…and furthermore if we see God as this Being Who has given us everything….well, how are we supposed to imitate that? We don’t have our own reality talent TV show to give somebody a new makeover of a life.
God in His essence is not aloneness but meeting. God is not a mere individual but a society. The oneness of God is not sheer mathematical thing, but is the oneness of love.
Let’s remember that we are made in the image and likeness of God, but we don’t have to stress over reflecting the Trinity. Rather, Christ comes that we might imitate Him. In fact, in dying, Jesus allows Himself to be divided open that we might enter into His Person. Jesus allows death to make a hole in His life that we can enter into Him. If we can enter into Jesus through His death (aka through our baptism) we can meet God. He is in Second Person of the Trinity and as we living in Him we are brought into this relationship as a beloved son/daughter loving God as Father with the Holy Spirit.
Still, this is more of what God does for us. What do we do for Him?
Well, as it is Memorial Day Weekend, it seems fitting to consider some of our finest for a moment. Jason Dunham was a marine serving as a squad leader in Iraq on patrol in April 2004. There had been a firefight, and in the aftermath his unit was sent to search vehicles for insurgents. As he approached one vehicle, an insurgent jumped out and Dunham and the insurgent fought hand to hand until Dunham had wrestled the insurgent to the ground. Yet, Dunham saw that the insurgent had pulled the ping of a grenade and let it go. Without any hesitation, Dunham covered the grenade with his helmet and his body bearing the brunt of the explosion and shielding the other marines from the blast. His life saved those of two other marines.
I mention this example of which there are countless other stories of heroism throughout history, because while the Father eternally begets Jesus, His Son…The Son did not want to remain as the only Son. “The only Son of God made many sons of God. He bought brothers [and sisters] for Himself by His blood; He made them welcome by being rejected; He ransomed them by being sold; He honored them by being dishonored; He gave them life by being put to death.” And He told us to do come after Him with our cross – and men and women like Jason Dunham have done just that.
Jason Dunham had already been a man of sacrifice. He had already begun dying to self. We are not supposed to wait. God gives everything to us – it seems preposterous. What do we give Him? Well, by taking up our flesh, we not only gave Christ the ability to die, but we crucified Him. We gave Him His death and in doing so He glorifies the Father in a way that gives not only everything back, but brings forth His brothers and sisters.
The whole reason He is able to die and rise, is because His nature is shared by the Father and the Holy Spirit. We enter into that death whenever we pray. We cannot remain isolated in our egos and pray at the same time. As soon as we pray, we pray through the Son to the Father – with the love that is the Spirit.
Jesus did not wait to die before He went to His own death. In the Eucharist, He demonstrates for us His love by giving His own Body and Blood before He physically goes to the Cross and because He takes this time and by giving this food to them and to us, He gives us the chance to enter into His death and to meet Him there and to love with His own pure love. Glory be….