Today is Trinity Sunday. Our faith tells us there is but one God, and in thy one God, there are three persons – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The three persons are really distinct: the Father is not the Son, the Son is not the Father, and the Holy Spirit is neither the Father nor the Son.
Each of these persons is really and truly God, and still, there is but one God. We cannot understand it, we could not believe it if God had not told us, however, Jesus told us a great deal about God. He told us that God is love, life, and goodness.
To be a whole person, we must have a relationship with our God. We humans do not like being out of relationship with those around us or our God. Think of the worst moments of your life, when you were rejected by someone when you were cut off from family and friends. Perhaps you felt betrayed by a friend, or you felt isolated. We do not even like to go to the movies or out to dinner by ourselves, do we? Why is solitary confinement such a horrible form of punishment? We human beings are in desperate need for union.
Rejection is such an intolerable hurt because we need to be connected. The question is why, why this existential driving need for union? Why are the best moments when unions occur, and the worst when it is absent? The answer simply and profoundly is today’s feast.
We are made in the image and likeness of God, and God is communion, is relationship, and therefore so are we. Humans strive for union with God and with each other. We reach out for companionship. Every hug or embrace gives indirect testimony to the Trinity.
The Trinity says that God is relationship, and so we search. The Trinity says that God is community, and so we seek. The Trinity says that God is love, and so we love, we cannot help ourselves. We are made to that image and likeness, we mirror our origins.
God is love and unity undivided, and we strive for the same. Think of the most satisfying moments of your life. I would suspect that they were times when you felt safe and loved and cared for. When you sat on your mother’s lap when you were held or hugged. When you were affirmed, when you were simply in the silent presence of someone you loved. When you had someone in your life.
So it is no wonder that we, who are made in God’s image and likeness, are also essentially about relationship. Relationship is what God is all about: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
A missionary bishop had to celebrate confirmation for a group of handicapped children. He was asked to avoid any difficult language, he was nervous. He noticed the parents stroking their children. He spoke this message to the children: “Dear children, your Mom and Dad, brothers and sisters love you. That is why they gently stroke your head, your hair, and face, and that is what happens when I confirm you today: the good Lord gently strokes you because He loves you so much. So when I make the sign of the cross on your forehead with the oil, our heavenly Father is stroking and caressing you.”
A few minutes later, as he touched a cerebral palsy victim’s forehead, the little boy said with great difficulty the words, “Stroke me, God.” The boy had gotten the message: God was stroking him. The Bishop said, “I do not know what some might think of that theology, but basically this is what God is all about.”
God stroked the people of Israel. The Father stroked the Prodigal Son. Jesus stroked the children, and stroked the lepers, and laid His hands on the eyelids and heads and ears of those who were handicapped or afflicted. In brief, the Bishop did not try to explain the Trinity. He summed up the message of Christianity in one word: that God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, is love. And we all need that love and depend on that love if we are to be whole and complete.