Father Leslie Hoppe, OFM

June 4: Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Three persons

Ex 34:4b-6, 8-9; Dn 3:52,53,54,55,56; 2 Cor 13:11-13; Jn 3:16-18

A legend about St. Augustine of Hippo, the great philosopher and theologian, tells of his encounter with small boy playing in the sand along the seashore.

Augustine was walking along nearby, trying to probe the mystery of Trinity. The saint noticed the boy busy digging a hole in the sand and then wading into the sea to fill a small bucket with seawater. The boy then poured the water into the hole he dug. He walked back and forth to the sea to get more water to fill the hole.

Augustine asked the boy what he was trying to do. The boy answered that he was emptying the sea into the hole he dug. Augustine laughed at the impossibility and futility at such an attempt. The boy, however, looked up at the saint and said that he would succeed at his seemingly impossible task long before Augustine would succeed at his attempt to unravel the mystery of the Trinity. The boy then vanished from sight.

The most accurate description of Trinity’s inner life appears in 1 Jn 4:8: “God is love.” Our faith tells us that God does not live in splendid isolation but as a Trinity of persons. It is the unfathomably intense love of the three persons for each other that binds them together as a single Godhead.

The love that binds the three persons together is as fruitful as it is intense. The fruit of that love is creation though which the Trinity’s love finds concrete expression outside of the Trinity.

Pope Francis wrote that the signature of the Trinity is literally embedded into every creature on earth. The Holy Father went on to affirm that all creatures, great and small, offer an image and a message of God’s love. Every one of God’s creatures is a manifestation the love of the three persons. That spills over into creation that reflects the grandeur, beauty and power of the love that is the core of the Trinity’s being.

Human beings can reciprocate God’s love and that sets us apart from the rest of creation.

The sun is a marvelous example of the splendor and power of God’s love. The sun makes life on earth possible. St. Francis, in his “Canticle of the Sun,” prays as follows: “Be praised, my Lord, through all your creatures, especially through my lord Brother Sun, who brings the day; and you give light through him. And he is beautiful and radiant in all his splendor! Of you, Most High, he bears the likeness. Despite the sun’s beauty and splendor, it cannot do what any child can. A child rejoices in the sun’s light and basks in its warmth. The child can recognize the sun as God’s gift and join the angels and saints in praising the Creator. The sun knows nothing of its Creator.”

Our exceptional place among God’s creatures carries with it a unique task: we are responsible for the welfare of the earth and the creatures with whom we share this home of ours. Pope Francis reminds us that we have no right to wantonly destroy what belongs to God.

For example, we cannot ignore climate change. It is real and we bear much of the responsibility for it. We ignore that responsibility at our own peril and that of every living creature on earth. Climate change is turning the earth into a place that is becoming less and less hospitable. This requires that every human being take steps to end this threat to life.

We ought to be like that child who praises God for the sun’s light and warmth. We need to recognize and respond to the signs of Trinity’s love in creation. We especially need to reciprocate that love shown us by the second person of the Trinity, who became flesh and dwelt among us.

The Incarnation shows that love of the three persons for each other is not enough for God. God became a human being to induce us to experience and return divine love. God wants our love.



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