Most Reverend Vincent Long Van Nguyen OFM Conv DD STL, Bishop of Parramatta
Homily for the Vigil Mass of the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity in Year A 2017 at Sacred Heart Parish, South Mount Druitt
10 June 2017
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
We heard from Scriptures that God created man in his image. And yet ironically, the reverse has often been said and proven from human experience, that is, we create God or “gods” in our own image. We form an idea of what God is like according to our own experience. Some have an image of God as the stern judge who punishes harshly; others have an idea of God as a kind-of a good fairy. Most of us who have an image of God that we are comfortable with; even if we have not made God out of the gold calf like the Jews of old, perhaps consciously or subconsciously we are in the process of creating an idea, a picture, an image of God that we can feel at ease, we can relate to.
Once there was an old woman who was seen to be extremely pious and religious. The Church was her second home. She would go there every single day and spend hours saying her prayers. The only trouble was she did not get on well with others, including her own family. One day, God saw that religion was getting too comfortable for her and so He decided it was time for a small challenge. That day, the lady came to Church as usual and found the door locked at a time when Mass was supposed to be on. She pushed and pushed but could not open it. Distressed at the thought that she would miss Mass for the first time in years, and not knowing what to do, she looked up. And there, right before her face, she found a note pinned on to the door. It simply read “I’m out here too, signed God”.
My dear friends, I think we can all some how identify ourselves with the lady in the story because we by nature tend to fit God into a place that we can manage. Rather than letting God fit us into his plan, we want to fit him to ours. And we are very good at adjusting, molding, fashioning God in such a way that he can fit comfortably into our plans, that he can present no challenge to our ways. Yet as Scriptures consistently show us, it is God who comes into our lives and brings about our transformation–often not without our resistance.
In celebrating the Trinity today, we acknowledge that our images, our ideas, our pictures, our conceptions of God are at best inadequate, because they do not exhaust the reality of who God is. St John tells us that “No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known”. It is through Jesus that we learn to know and experience the God whose love surrounds us and permeates our lives.
This is the message of Moses in the first reading: God is everywhere. God is “in the heaven above and on earth beneath.” God permeates all of existence. It is the Spirit of God that moves us to understand the profound mystery of God’s presence in our lives. St. Augustine teaches us that it is only when we find love that we experience the mystery of the Holy Trinity. It is in love that we experience the great mystery of God whose love creates us, surrounds us and sustains us in all that we do and in all that we are.
If we are created in the image and likeness of the Triune God, then we are also created to be in loving relationships. It is the core of our Christian faith that says God is love and that we share in his divine nature. This is a simple and yet profound belief. If each of us, no matter who we are, has a common humanity rooted in the very nature of God, then we cannot think and act in an “us versus them” mentality. We cannot define who we are against who we are not, because we are all brothers and sisters. It is against the Trinitarian faith to be preoccupied with ourselves. We cannot worship a God of love, communion and mission without renouncing the worship of personal success and the pursuit of private gain. There is something inherently idolatrous in our culture when the cult of personality, glamour and success is pursued over against concern for the marginalised and the vulnerable.
In celebrating the Trinity, we are therefore motivated to build our lives and relationships in that communion of love. That love has created us and redeemed us and sustains us. And if we are created in the image and likeness of God, then we are to find our true selves not in being aloof and alone and apart and above it all, but rather in giving of ourselves away in love, in our vulnerable and suffering hearts, and in all those ways we are with and for one another.
Friends, We are standing before the reality of a God who loves us so much that he communicates himself wholly to us. The Triune God is one who is always busy relating, communicating, revealing, giving himself to us. In Jesus who became one of us, who suffered and died for us, we see God so close, so self-giving that he held nothing back. He offered us everything in His Son. May we allow the Trinity in his fullness of self-giving nature take possession of us. May he mold us into his image and likeness by the way we love and serve one another. May our lives and relationship reflect the communion of love of God the Father Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.