Cardinal Blase J. Cupich

Preaching on the Trinity

June 15, 2022

It is always a challenge for priests to come up with a fresh idea for the Sunday homily. Facing the same task week after week can be daunting. Our pastors know that people want to hear something that will nourish them as they continue on their journey as disciples. Yet, there are days when you come up dry. As a couple of priests mentioned to me as they prepared their Trinity Sunday homilies: What does one say about the triune God that has relevance to the lives of everyday people?

I shared with them some insights about the Trinity that I found helpful in Meghan Clark’s book “The Vision of Catholic Social Thought: The Virtue of Solidarity and the Praxis of Human Rights.” This young lay theologian observes that, without the Trinity, something would be missing in our understanding of God. The God revealed from the very beginning in the creation narratives is a God of persons sharing life. In fact, the very statement, “God is love,” indicates a mutual exchange of life of distinct persons.

At the same time, without the Trinity, something would be missing in our understanding of ourselves as human beings. Made in the image of the triune God, we are not autonomous individuals who measure the worth of our lives simply by our private accomplishments. Rather, we grow into the persons God wants us to be when we share life with others. It is by forging bonds of solidarity that we live in the image of God, the self-giving love of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

In a world that values material success, fame and fortune, there is always the temptation to gauge our purpose narrowly defined by what we achieve as individuals. But God is serious in calling us to live up to the dignity that is ours as those created in the divine image and likeness.

These insights also have much to offer as we think about the church. Just as human beings are called to live in the image and likeness of the triune God, so too the church must mirror the life of the Trinity, never reducing our mission to projects and goals that are self-serving. The church too must reach out to the world and share the life that has been given to us. Such is the vision of the church offered by the bishops at the Second Vatican Council when they wrote:

“The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the men of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ. Indeed, nothing genuinely human fails to raise an echo in their hearts. For theirs is a community composed of men. United in Christ, they are led by the Holy Spirit in their journey to the Kingdom of their Father and they have welcomed the news of salvation which is meant for every man. That is why this community realizes that it is truly linked with mankind and its history by the deepest of bonds” (Gaudium et Spes, 1).

It is noteworthy that the church’s liturgical calendar schedules Trinity Sunday to follow immediately after the Feast of Pentecost, traditionally known as the birthday of the church. Could this be a reminder that the church’s being reborn in every age involves maturing in our understanding of how we as a community of faith live in the image and likeness of a God who shares life as a family?

As I suggested to the priests who were struggling to prepare a homily for Trinity Sunday, addressing how God’s children might mature in their understanding of how to live in the image and likeness of the triune God would be a good place to start.