Most Reverend Vincent Long Van Nguyen OFM Conv DD STL, Bishop of Parramatta
Mass for the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity Year C 2022 and the commissioning of the Diocesan and Deanery Pastoral Councils at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta.
Readings: Proverbs 8:22-31; Psalm 8:4-9; Romans 5:1-5; John 16:12-15
Trinitarian model for a church that can be a source of hope for the world
Dear brothers and sisters,
In many ways, we are living at the watershed moment in history. Scientists speak of an Anthropocene Epoch whereby human activity has a significant impact on the planet’s climate and ecosystems. Indeed, there is a broad consensus that we are heading towards a tipping point beyond which there will be irreversible changes and severe effects such as rising sea levels, droughts, floods etc. We cannot continue with the status quo when it is at best unsustainable and at worst it will be a terrible legacy to future generations.
The pandemic has also added to the mix. It has exposed the default economic system that neglects the care of the vulnerable. In a society that glorifies private enterprise and personal achievement, we are often geared towards self-made success as the objective of life. The result is not only the lack of the sense for social responsibility and the common good. Poverty, inequality, environmental exploitation and a throw-away culture also become the collateral damage.
If we are to survive and thrive into the future, we will have to change quite radically. We will have to revisit the organising principle of our society and our lives. We will have to abandon the self-centred, profit-driven, consumption-oriented way of living in favour of a more inclusive, future-oriented and whole of life approach. We will have to restructure how we live and relate in a way that gives honour to the creator and sustainer of all life. It is not only possible. It is the most exciting time in the history of our existence.
Today, we celebrate the core of our Christian faith: the God of love in whose image and likeness we were created; the God who sustains all of creation and enables every living being to flourish in the communion of life and love.
St Irenaeus long ago gave us a wonderful maxim and a succinct definition of the Christian life. “The glory of God is human fully alive”. In other words, we honour God when we follow the example of Jesus who came that “all may have life and have it to the full”.
The Word of God today speaks of the all-pervasive God who is wisdom, love and truth. In the Book of Proverbs, we hear the companionship between creator and wisdom. Wisdom is the model for human behaviour. We are summoned to be good stewards of creation which is the outflow of the God of life and love. The world is not randomly “disconnected” so that we can do destructive things with impunity. The creator God, via wisdom, assures the connection between the choices we make and the outcomes with which we must live. What we sow is what we shall reap. This is a warning for wholesome and ethical living.
What is implicit in the metaphor of wisdom is made more explicit in the Gospel. Jesus speaks of the Father and the Holy Spirit in his farewell discourse. The disciples are called to model on him who has revealed the truth from the Father and sent the Spirit to draw them into the fullness of the truth.
In celebrating the Trinity, we are moved to become a community that reflects the God of love among all peoples and the God of relational harmony with all that exists. Believers are to mirror the relational model of the Trinity that is revealed in Jesus’ style of radical self-emptying love, solidarity, simplicity and unity. In Him, we see a God whose modus operandi is the antithesis of the power structures of this world that is tilted towards the privileged, the rich and the strong.
If the Church is to be a source of hope for the future of humanity and the planet, it will have to reset itself in the trinitarian framework of life, love and harmony that is deeply relational and directed towards the periphery. The Trinity is the template for restructuring the Church as a circular, symbiotic and cooperative relational paradigm rather than a linear pyramidic power structure.
This morning, we commission the Diocesan and Deanery Pastoral Councils as an expression of a Church centred on the dignity and gift of the baptised. These representatives of the faithful will work collaboratively with me, community leaders and other governing bodies in order to bring about the vision of the Church in mission, walking humbly, listening deeply and serving lovingly.
Let us embody the God we believe in, the God Jesus revealed to us, and the Holy Spirit continues to make known to us in his fullness. Let us walk together, sharing the burdens of humanity, responding to the cry of the poor and the cry of creation. Let us go forward in our mission to actualise God’s plan for a shared destiny of hope, communion and life for all, confident of the victory of Christ and his promise to be with us till the end of time. May our lives and relationships reflect the God of communion and love.