Once, several decades ago, I heard a homily that was preached by an Episcopalian priest about the Trinity.
This particular priest was one of the most Godly, kind and just plain good religious leaders I have ever known. He was also unabashedly humble before the Lord and unconcerned about what people thought of him. I’ve come to the conclusion that those traits go together to form genuine holiness, kind of like hydrogen and oxygen go together to form the life-giving elixir we know as water.
The homily in question was, as I said, about the Trinity.
The Trinity has been presented to us as one of those now-you-see-it, now-you-don’t theological constructs that defy comprehension and description. Theologians who have dealt with the Trinity have so thoroughly hung themselves with their own argumentative rope that they’ve thrown in the towel and ended the arguments they created by announcing that the Trinity is a “mystery.”
Faced with the Feast of the Trinity, clergy in liturgical churches are forced, once each year, to take a shot at preaching on this supposedly incomprehensible “mystery” to an uninterested laity. They are weighed down in this effort by too many hours in theology and philosophy classes.
The struggling homilies I’ve heard down through the years regarding the Trinity are among the most amusing little sermonettes I’ve listened to in my life. This particular priest was, as I said, both humble and unpretentious. I always respected that about him and trusted him because of it.
His homily on the subject was the best I’ve ever heard in a church. He told us that an elderly priest was struggling to understand the Trinity. This priest anguished over the question. He studied theological tracts, read Scripture, prayed. Then, in a sudden insight, it came to him. He understood the Trinity. He grasped it’s reality and meaning all the way through.
The next morning he got up and sat down with both excitement and anticipation to write a homily that would share his magnificent insight with his parish.
But, when he put pen to paper, he discovered to his dismay that he had sobered up. He no longer understood the Trinity.
The congregation laughed hard when this dear priest got to the punchline.
In my opinion, that was the second best homily I ever heard on the Trinity.
The first best homily I ever heard on the subject didn’t come from a member of the clergy and wasn’t delivered in a church. It was something my husband said to someone he loves who was worried about the nature of the Trinity.
I won’t go into the particulars of the situation. They are deeply private. But I will share what my husband said. He told his friend that Jesus had said everything we need to know about the nature of the Trinity when He said My Father and I are one.
Jesus said those words when He told us that He was the Good Shepherd Who would take care of us.
Another time, St Philip asked Him to show us the Father.
Jesus answered by asking Philip how he could have been with Jesus for so long and not know the answer to that.
How can you ask that Philip? Do you not know that I am in the Father, and the Father is in me?
Another time, the Pharisees challenged Jesus’ authority to teach as He was teaching. They accused Him of being demon-possessed. When Jesus said, those who follow My Word will never taste death, they said that now they knew He was demon-possessed. They then accused Him of saying that He was greater than Abraham.
Jesus answered them by saying Before Abraham was, I AM.
This was a direct reference to the name that God gave Himself when Moses stood at the burning bush and asked Him who he should say had sent him to free the Israelites. God answered, I AM. Say that I AM has sent you.
Jesus was directly calling Himself the infinite God, and the Pharisees understood it that way.
Scripture leaves no doubt that Jesus told us Himself that the Father and Son are One. He was describing two persons of the Trinity.
Later in Scripture, Jesus also described the Third Person of the Trinity, whom He called the Advocate, the Paraclete, the Spirit of Truth. He said that it was better for His followers if He went away, because then the Spirit of Truth, the third person of the Trinity, could come to them.
He told them — and us — that the Spirit of Truth, who we call the Holy Spirit, would be with them always. He said that the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, will take from Jesus to speak to us. In this way, the Holy Spirit speaks to us with the voice of Jesus, which is the voice of God.
Jesus told us everything we need to know about the Trinity. Contrary to what we are told by theologians, He did not leave us with an unfathomable mystery to bedevil and frighten us in the dark hours of our lives. He gave us the knowledge necessary for us to live as His followers in this world until He calls us Home.
I and the Father are One.
The Spirit of Truth will take from Me to speak to you.
It’s not complicated. You just have to get out of your own way and stop overthinking.
One God in three persons. The Trinity.
Jesus said it.
I believe it.