Solemnity of the Most Holy
16 June 2019
Holy Trinity Sunday … 1997 or 1998 – I was 17-18 years old. I was serving the Mass when Fr. Twardzik turned to me and said, Jonathan – hold this icon for me for the duration of my homily. Roughly 20 minutes later he finally landed the plane! Now, I do not remember a word of that homily – in part because he was long-winded … but also because I was terribly sick! No A/C in the church, wearing a long heavy robe, I was getting hotter and hotter… paler and paler… and my stomach just didn’t feel right. When Father finished he turned to me and said – now just stand there for another minute or so. I said: Father, I’m going to go throw up! And I went into the sacristy and vomited in the sink. That was my first real memory of Trinity Sunday. But I remember it for 2 reasons: 1. I got sick. 2. The icon.
This icon, written in the 15th century by Andrei Rublev, is based on the Genesis account of the “Hospitality of Abraham” in which he welcomed 3 angels into his home. These angels, we have come to believe represent for us the Holy Trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Scholars suggest that Rublev painted the angels sort of in a circle – not that they are in a circle but rather that they create the circle – indicating that in them there is no beginning and no end … thus symbolizing the timeless nature of God who reveals Himself to us as a relation of persons.
But what strikes me is that his image of God appear as humans – though they appear, as they did in Genesis, as angels – yet they took on human form. First, it is reference to the incarnation of Jesus Christ – when God actually became a human being. Second, it tells us something about the inner nature of God … that our God is a relational being. The inner nature of God is a relation of persons – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. And this relationship is bound by love. St. John tells us that God is love – how right he is … but one cannot love without relationship, without someone to love … this we find in God. This is so important to understand because it tells us that at the heart of belief, at the core of our faith is first a relationship – a personal and intimate relationship with God. Everything else flows from this relationship … teachings of the Church, the commandments, moral living, virtues, our human relationships… all of it stems from this primary relationship with God.
The word ‘relationship’ is defined as ‘the state in which two or more concepts, object or persons are connected; the state of being connected.’ What does that look like in your lives? What does your relationship with God look like? It is meant to be personal and intimate … it isn’t just about making it to Mass and saying our prayers – these are essential, necessary and important – yet it must penetrate to the very core of our being, it must be in the heart because that is where we learn to love … from the heart. When our love for God takes on this personal and intimate characteristic, we then have the capacity to make Him known in our human relationships … because when we love in such a way that confers goodness on others, we make something of the nature of God known to one another. What does your relationship with God look like, feel like? Is it alive and fruitful? Is it sedentary and doormat?
The concept of understanding the nature of the Holy Trinity is not easy … God remains in this sense a mystery to the human mind … that’s ok. One thing though we can all understand is what it means to love… to have relationship… of living in such a way that confers goodness on others. In this way, we can understand in mind and heart who God is, experience His love, and make Him known in and through our relationships.