HOMILY FOR THE SOLEMNITY OF THE MOST HOLY TRINITY.
THEME: THE TRINITY AS A COMMUNITY.
BY: REV FR GERALD MUOKA
Homily for Sunday June 7 2020
As a senior seminarian, I had an encounter with an elder of Jehovah Witness. It was my third Apostolic Work, precisely, my second year Philosophy. I entered a big extended family, and with my usual contagious smile, I greeted everyone. In reciprocity, I was welcomed with warmth by them, except a spinster, who doubled the frown on her face on seeing me. My award-winning smiles, never moved her. I got worried and tried to put smiles on her face. All to no avail. I had a whisper from the little children taking me round the village; “broda obukwa onye Ama Jehova”( she is of Jehova Witness denomination). Having caught heard of that, I had to put on my ecumenical cap. I asked her “nne, why are you gloomy? Why not brighten up? Are we not worshipping the same God as Christians”?
At this juncture, she fumed with rage and gave me her recalcitrant words: “GOD FORBID! I CANNOT WORSHIP THE SAME GOD WITH YOU. IMAGINE, THESE ONES THAT WORSHIP 3 gods. HOW CAN YOU SAY THAT JESUS IS GOD. NONSENSE”. At this juncture, I deemed it pertinent to unleash biblical and doctrinal defensive prowess on her. The little children in their little capacity, pitied me and pleaded with me not to enter arguments with the Lady, that people fear her because she is well versed in the scriptures. I couldn’t resist giving her some confrontational messmerism and doctrinal knockout.
I asked for her AMA JEHOVA version of the bible, which she hurriedly did. I began by proving the divinity of Jesus Christ to her.
The conversation which attracted some onlookers began thus:
Me: You said that Jesus is not God?
Me: “Get John.1:1-3 and read”
She: (she got it sharp sharp and read) “In the beginning was the world, the world was with God and the world was God. He was with God from the beginning. Everything came into existence through him and without him nothing would have existed”
Me: “Who is being referred to in your bible as God by John?” (I asked her)
She: Jesus Christ..(she replied).
At this juncture, I started seeing some cheers from the onlookers on me and some jeers at her.
I made her to open further the following portions of the scriptures from her bible:
Isaiah 9:6,7, “unto us a son is given…and His name shall be called, Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God …”
John 20:28 Thomas said, “my Lord, and my GOD”
Colossians 1:16-17, “For by Him all things were created, both in the heaven and earth… And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.”
John 8:58, “… before Abraham was born, I am.”
John 17:5, “and now glorify thou me together with thyself, Father, with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.”
Revelation 1:8 and 22:13, “I am the Alpha and the Omega”
I punctuated the bible clarifications with “who is being referred to?” And her response was a compliance; “JESUS CHRIST”…
At this point, she got lost in thought, wearing a defeatist countenance, looking quite drowned in the argument; uttering no more word; she became an object of derision for the onlookers. It was indeed a day to remember.
Beloved in Christ, today is the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity. This doctrine is at the centre of doctrinal disagreements between the Catholic Church and some of our separated brethren, as seen in the introit story.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church says “it refers to the idea that God is one, but can be experienced in three different Persons”.(CCC. no. 234)
Person ato di n’otu
The Blessed Trinity is a mystery that can be understood with St Anslem’s binocular of “Fides quarens intellectum”(Faith seeking understanding); comprehendible, not with the head, but with the heart.
It teaches us that there are three distinct Persons in one God, sharing the same Divine Nature, co-equal and co-eternal. Simply put: the Father is God but not the Son and the Holy Spirit; the Son is God but not the Father and the Spirit and the Holy Spirit is God, but not the Father and the Son. One in Substance, but different in persons.
But we believe in this Mystery because Jesus, who is God, taught it clearly, the Evangelists recorded it, the Fathers of the Church tried to explain it, and the Councils of Nicaea and Constantinople defined it as a dogma of Christian Faith.
*TRINITARIAN MANIFESTATIONS AND PRESENCE IN THE SCRIPTURES*
The term “Trinity”, is not explicitly found in the bible. It was first used by
Tertullian, to explain that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are “one in essence – not one in Person.” He was the first to use “Person” and “Substance”, with reference to the Trinity.
Ours is not to exhaust or give a profound explanation on the doctrine of the Blessed Trinity, but to trace the prefigurations and roles of the Three persons of the Blessed Trinity; functioning as a community, as clearly stated in Scripture both directly, and by having the incommunicable attributes.
(1) In Gen.1:1, the Hebrew text used Elohim to address God. This rendition of Elohim comes in a plural form of El(God). But it denotes singularity in plurality. It became clearer in v.2, where the Spirit of God was hovering over the water. And in v.3, the creative power of God’s word that took flesh in Jesus was made manifest (Jn.1:3,14).
(2)In Gen.1:26, the scripture captures God not as a monad, but a community; let us create man in our own image and likeness. That “US” is remarkable, and not addressed to the angels, because a creature cannot create, but can discover and procreate.
(3)In Gen.11:7, the confusion at the tower of Babel was aggravated by the community clarion call and response: “come let us go and confuse them”.
(4)Gen.18:2, describes how God visited Abraham through 3 men.
(4) At the Annunciation, God the Father sends His angel to Mary, God the Holy Spirit comes upon her, the Power of the Most High overshadows her, and God the Son becomes incarnate in her womb.(Lk.1:34-38)
(5) At the baptism of Jesus, the Father’s Voice is heard, and the Holy Spirit appears as a Dove.(Mk.1:8-11)
(6)At the Ascension, the “Missio Ad Gentes” (mission to the world) was commissioned to baptize those who believe, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.(Matt.28:19-20)
(7)John, chapters 15–18, is replete with Jesus’ detailed teaching of the role of each Person of the Holy Trinity: God the Father creates, God the Son redeems us and God the Holy Spirit sanctifies us.
*THE COMMUNITY OF GOD*
The Community of God is best understood within the confines of Perichoresis ( Greek peri = “around” + chorein=to make space), meaning, “to make space around”. It explains the mutual indwelling of the Three Persons in one God.
They are differentiated in their characteristics and roles, but related in their original exchange. The three persons, while dwelling in each other, still maintain space for each individually.
(IBIRI KAM BIRI-EGBE BERE UGO BERE THEOLOGY).
The live and let’s live theology of Perichoresis, is easily realized by “MAKING SPACE AROUND FOR EACH OTHER AND EVERYONE”. ONLY THIS MINDSET, QUALIFIES US TO BE MEMBERS AND PARTAKERS OF GOD’S COMMUNITY THAT IS BUILT AND ESTABLISHED ON LOVE. And by so doing, we join the late King of Pop, Michael Jackson, to actualize the dream of “making the world a better place for me and you”. We can achieve this by taking note of the following:
*(1)WE ARE ALL PRODUCTS OF LOVE*
Created ‘Imago Dei'(Let us create man in our own Image and likeness;Gen.1:26), we automatically, become products of the *COMMUNITY* of Trinitarian Relationship of love and unity in the family relationships of father, mother, and children because, by Baptism we become children of God and members of God’s Trinitarian family. In other words, we cannot live, achieve our mission in the absence of love.(NDU MMIRI NDU AZU). (1Jn.4:8)
*(2)LET LOVE LEAD*
The second reading, described the intimacy and love that radiates among the Persons of the Trinity. This love is interpersonal that is realized through “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, culminating in the Love of God and actualized through the life of communion wrought by the Holy Spirit.
Let us practice the I–God–my–thou vertical and horizontal Trinitarian relationship in society by loving God. We can only achieve this one we see God in ourselves.
Let us respect ourselves and others because everyone is the temple of the Holy Spirit where all Three Persons of the Holy Trinity abide.(Jn.13:34;1Cor.13:13)
(3) *TEAM SPIRIT*
The Trinitarian indwelling is marked by “team” spiritedness of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in the history of man’s salvation,
M=More. We too, can achieve more than we can imagine through team-spiritedness. When all hands are on deck, we form a formidable force. (Matt.18:19-20; Amos 3:3)
(4) *UNITY IN DIVERSITY*
The distinctive roles of the Trinity is seen only in the “persons”, not in their “Substance”. The have a central goal, as we see in the Gospel reading; “Salus Animarum” (The salvation of souls).
The doctrine of the Trinity teaches us how we should shape our lives, by not allowing what tears us apart to be greater than what binds us together. Let the difference in colour, size nurture, religion, tribe, race, culture and orientation, not touch our “Substance”, which is love for humanity; but bring variety and true tastes to both Jews and Gentiles.1Cor.12:12-31)
(5) *LEAVE THE STAGE WHEN YOUR ROLE IS ACCOMPLISHED.*
The salvific mission was often punctuated by Trinitarian handover. The Father plays his role as creator and sends the Son as the redeemer and the Son promised the Holy Spirit who sanctifies.
Many African nations today are underdeveloped, some live in penury and dictatorship( Imagine the gory scenario in Cameroon), because, some old layers under the guise of leaders have refused to leave the political stage. We keep recycling some old fools who can’t lay further eggs from Councillor, LGA Chairman, House of Assembly, Federal Reps, Senate, to Governor, back to Senate and ministerial appointments and from military presidency to democratic presidency… Even most of our churches and organisations are in disarray and disunity, because one president, leader or chairman has refused to hand over.
(6) *USE OF THE TRINITARIAN FORMULA*
The tenderness, faithfulness, kindness and mercy of God, which Moses sought over his people with the two tablets of stone in the first reading, are perfected in the tripartite functionality of the Blessed Trinity.
That is why: all prayers in the Church begin in the Name of the Holy Trinity and end glorifying the Trinity.
Virtually, all the Sacraments of the church are administered with the invocation of the blessed Trinity; both as introit and doxologies.
We are baptized, confirmed, anointed, our sins are forgiven, our marriage is blessed, and our Bishops, priests and deacons are ordained, in the name of the Holy Trinity. We bless ourselves, and the priest blesses us, in the Name of the Holy Trinity.(2Cor.13:13; Matt.28:19)
OH, WHAT A LIFE WITHOUT THE TRINITARIAN MEDIATION AND INTERVENTION?
There was story about a man who was suspected of being out of his mind, climbed a tree. Many were worried about this. So they shouted at him to go down from the tree but he did not. They called the police, military officers and a psychiatrist to convince him to go down but he was not convinced. They called the Mayor but it’s hopeless. Finally, they called the old parish priest of that place.
So the old parish priest went to the place and they asked him to make a blessing if in case he will fall down and die. So the priest made the Sign of the Cross. After a while the man went down from the tree and the people were surprised why it happened that way.
They asked the priest why he was able to convince the man to come down by making the Sign of the Cross. The priest told them: “No, I did not convince the person to come down. I just say, ‘If you will not go down (tracing a vertical line), I will cut this tree (tracing a horizontal line in the air). After that he came down
MAY THE POWER OF GOD THE FATHER, THE PERSON OF GOD THE SON AND THE PRESENCE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, ACCOMPANY YOU IN ALL YOUR UNDERTAKINGS, AMEN
HAPPY TRINITY SUNDAY
GOD LOVES YOU
FR GERALD MUOKA